The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth, with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros.
The first excavation of the site was conducted in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos of Herakleion. This was followed by the long-term excavations 1900-1913 and 1922-1930) of the Englishman Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered virtually the entire palace. (more)
The Church of Ss. Peter and Paul was built in the first years of Venetian rule as the katholikon in the Dominican order monastery (Domenicani Predicatori). It is one of the oldest examples of 12th century Dominican architecture, both in Greece and the rest of Europe.
In Venetian times the church was used as a burial site for Candia dignitaries, but in the very first years of Ottoman rule was converted into a mosque dedicated to the memory of Sultan Ibrahim.
It is situated next to the sea wall, between the Venetian port and the Dermatas Gate, on what is now Sofoklis Venizelou Avenue, and is currently being restored for use as a feast day church. (more)
The Cretaquarium project was conceived by employees of the former Institute of Marine Biology of Crete (IMBC) to create the first large aquarium in Greece, as part of a marine park for research, education, culture and recreation. Its construction was co-financed by the European Investment Bank and the Greek state. Cretaquarium first opened its doors in December 2005 and went through a major expansion during the winter of 2008-9, when 25 new tanks were installed. The aquarium is currently operated by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, a public research institution. Its exhibits focus on the marine fauna of the Mediterranean region and include sea organisms from over 250 species in more than 60 tanks. (more)
The Venetian fortress of Koules dominates the entrance to the Venetian harbour of Heraklion. The Venetians called it the “Sea Fortress” (Castello a Mare or Rocca a Mare), but today it is known by its Turkish name, Koules, a corruption of Su Kulesi (Water Tower). It is one of the most familiar and beloved monuments of the city, and the symbol of Heraklion.
Today the fortress of Koules gazes proudly out across the Sea of Crete, reminding us of the glory of Venetian Chandax. It is haunted by legends that Cretan rebels were horribly tortured in its damp, dark rooms.
25th of August Street runs from the Meidani, the central crossroads of Heraklion, down to the Venetian harbour and the fortress of Koules. Along it are the Basilica of St Mark, the Loggia and the church of Saint Titus. As you approch the harbour, you will feel the cool sea breeze. At the end of the street and in the parallel alleyway of Agios Dimitrios are ouzeri (ouzo bars) serving delicious seafood.
25th of August Street is now a paved pedestrian street, and boasts the most beautiful Neoclassical buildings in Heraklion. Today they house banks, travel bureaux and tourist shops. These buildings were erected after the catastrophe of 1898, to give Heraklion the air of a modern city. The street was ironically known as "Odos Planis" ("Illusion Street"), because visitors who come up from the harbour and see these beautiful edifices form a favourable first impression of the city which is cruelly disappointed further on. (more)
The grave of the important Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) is located at the highest point of the Walls of Heraklion, the Martinengo Bastion, with panoramic views to the historical Heraklion.
His books "The Last Temptation", "Christ re-crucified" and "Captain Michalis" were designated as "anti-Christian" and "sacrilegious" and had brought the church very close to the author's excommunication in 1955. The Greek Church had asked the Greek State to forbid the distribution of the books.
Nikos Kazantzakis died of leukemia on October 26, 1957 in Germany. The archbishop Theoklitos did not give permission to expose his body for public veneration in Athens on November 4th. on November 5th, the body arrived in Crete and was exposed in the cathedal of Saint Minas for one day. On November 6th, the Archbishop of Crete Eugen, under the presence of the Greek Minister of Education Gerokostopoulos, conducted the funeral, while fanatics burnt books outside the church. The body was then accompanied by thousands of Cretans to the grave, atop the bastion of Martinengo.
His grave is austere with a wooden cross and a plaque engraved with his famous phrase: "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I'm free".