HERAKLIONA mythical land of Gods and men, the cradle of the first remarkable European civilization, a renowned workshop of avant-garde artistic creations during Renaissance, the guardian of a wine culture of four thousand years and a modern centre for research and technology in the Mediterranean. The home of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis is a vibrating and strong city of magnificent contrasts artfully balancing between the past and the present, tradition and modernism, the wisdom of ancient knowledge and experimentation. On this remarkable land, people engage in a never-ending creative quest; they only stop to generously offer their visitors their world-famous Cretan “philoxenia”, a true art of hospitality. Built almost in the middle of Crete’s northern coastline, the city of Heraklion is the administrative and financial capital of the island of Crete as well as one of the largest rural centres in Greece with several university and technological institutions. Through the centuries, its strategic location, on the crossroad of three continents and key maritime routes of the Mediterranean, has put its mark on the unique cultural identity of the city. The ancient port of the Minoan city of Knossos; The Castle (Kastro) and the Grand Castle (Megalo Kastro) of the Byzantine Era; the Arab fortress of Chandakas; The aristocratic Candia of the Republic of Venice, a strong castle town with great artistic and commercial glory; Kandiye of the Ottoman Rule. Today, behind the urban landscape of this vibrant, modern metropolis of the Mediterranean, the city’s rich historic past is still alive. The most important sights are linked to the gold era of the Venetian rule and promise unforgettable strolls around the alleys and squares of the old city centre. The old Venetian port with the emblematic medieval castle of Koules and the arched shipyards along the peer. The impressive fortifications surrounding the old city, the strongest and most beautiful in Eastern Mediterranean. The historic 25th of August Street with its magnificent neoclassic buildings, the impressive Loggia from the 16th century and the stunning church of Agios Titos. The majestic cathedral of Agios Minas built in the 19th century and the renown Venetian Morosini fountain with the elaborate decorations in the centre of the Lions square. And of course, the magnificent Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the arc of the Minoan civilization and the most important collection of prehistoric antiquities in the world.
At the city's eastern suburbs, the landscape changes radically. An endless waterfront with organized beaches and pretentious luxurious resorts unfolds all the way to the famous destinations of Hersonissos and Malia, the international paradise for delirious summer nights.