Heraklion (also known as Iráklion) is the bustling, lively capital city of the Greek island of Crete. This vivacious city, set against a striking mountain backdrop, is home to fascinating historical attractions, outstanding museums and a chic cafe culture.
Whilst Heraklion has long outgrown its city walls, these ancient Venetian constructions, featuring seven bastions and four gates, still dominate the more contemporary architecture of the city.
The Koules Venetian Fortress is a must for visit to Heraklion. Built by the Venetians in the 16th to defend against Turkish invaders, this proud fortress is an impressive and imposing work of architecture. These days, the fort is used to host art exhibitions, and music and theatrical events.
The beautiful Bembo Fountain, also built by the Venetians in the 16th century, is an ornate water fountain that acts as a centrepiece for the surrounding chic cafes and restaurants.
Heraklion is home to numerous fantastic museums, the most notable of which is the Archaeological Museum. Second only to its counterpart in Athens, the museum has recently undergone a €21 million restoration and offers a vast Minoan collection. The museum covers Cretan society from the Neolithic times to the days of the Roman Empire.
Situated five kilometres southwest of Heraklion, the unmissable ancient Palace of Knossos which dates back to at least 2000 BC is the source of the legend of the labyrinth. A guided tour of the former dwelling of King Mino is highly recommended.
Numerous day trip opportunities are available from Heraklion including a trip to Samaria Gorge, the largest gorge in Europe at over 18 kilometres long. You can also hop on a catamaran and sail to the tranquil island of Santorini.
If its beaches you’re after, the nearby resort of Amoundara has over three miles of gorgeous golden sands.
Heraklion has vibrant, cosmopolitan nightlife scene including the classy and popular waterfront clubs, Big Fish and Desire, the huge and varied Privilege nightclub, and the arty Pagopiion bar.
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