Heraklion is the capital city of Crete and the economical center of the island. It is also the 5th largest city in Greece and the birthplace of many important Greeks, such as the world famous painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), the novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba The Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ, etc), Nobel prize winner and poet Odysseas Elytis and many others.
The Venetian fortress of Koules is the city’s most recognizable landmark. It is open to the public, so you can visit and learn about the history of the fortress, the city and the Cretan battles. Don’t forget to climb upstairs and enjoy the panoramic view of the gulf and the city.
The city’s center is suitable for all tastes. You can walk in the center, a cosmopolitan and historical mix, with the Morozini fountain and the Venetian Loggia building, or visit a plethora of churches like Agios Minas and Agios Titos. Also, there are lots of retail stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Morozini Square is also called “The Lions” because of the lions seen on the fountain and is one of the busiest parts of Heraklion, as well as the rendezvous point for the locals.
It is also worth visiting the tomb of Kazantzakis. The tomb is located on the highest point of the city, at the Martinengo bastion, after the novelist’s wish. On the tomb there is a plaque with an inscription, his famous phrase “I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free.” A few meters away, lays the tomb of his wife who wanted to be buried next to her husband. The majestic view of the entire city is in front of you to see! Don’t miss to walk along the path on the Venetian walls, see the several other bastions and take a pleasant break from the city’s bustling streets.
Furthermore, Heraklion has many museums of significance, including The Archaeological Museum, the Natural History Museum, the History Museum, the Theological Museum (Church of Agia Ekaterini Sinaites), and the battle of Crete Museum.
You cannot leave the city without going to the Cretaquarium – Thalassokosmos, one of Europe’s largest aquariums. It offers visitors the opportunity to watch and learn about the residents of the Mediterranean Sea.
Last but not least, Knossos is as a must see place. Knossos was one of the most brilliant cities in Greece’s antiquity. It was the center of the Minoan civilization (Minoans made a major contribution to the development of Western European civilization as it is known today) and the Minoan Palace is the main site of interest in Knossos. The place is also connected with quite a few legends from the Greek mythology, such as the story of Daedalus and Icarus, Minotaur trapped in Labyrinth and many others.