Map of Heraklion region
Virtual tour of Crete
5 kilometres south-east of Heraklion (see map), on the hill where Minos built his Palace of Knossos, excavations here have uncovered the most important example of Minoan civilisation: the five-storey, 1,400-room palace, which is one of the main candidates for 'authorship' of the mythical Labyrinth. The throne room and the queen's palace were here, and today the partially restored remains remind us that advanced civilisations existed as long as four millennia ago. The vineyards, olive groves and cedar forests that surround the hill are not to be outdone. Other noteworthy nearby archaeological sites include Festos, Gortyne and Malia (see map of Heraklion)
The town of Heraklion
* Heraklion Archaeological Museum offers a fascinating experience. It comprises 20 galleries arranged in chronological order, with objects from Europe's oldest civilisations, Neolithic tools, Minoan figurines, weapons, jewellery, furniture and more. Many of the items in the museum were found in the palace of Knossos and are among the most impressive things you will see in Crete (see map of Heraklion).
* The Venetian fortress of Koules
The maritime fortress in the Venetian port ofHeraklion (Koules) was built by the Venetians, who occupied Crete from 1204 to 1669, to protect the city's port from other pretenders. The fortress was originally called Rocca a Mare and is now open to the public.
* The Venetian walls
At Heraklion's highest point, the Martinengo bastion, you will find the Venetian walls, the best-preserved fortification in the Mediterranean. Here you can enjoy a unique view of the entire city. The tomb of the great Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis can also be found here.
* The Morozini fountain or the famous lions of Heraklion
This Venetian fountain, decorated with four lions' heads, adorns Eleftherios Venizelos Square, also known as Lions' Square. Its drinking water still quenches the thirst of locals and passers-by alike.
* The Basilica of San Marco (Municipal gallery)
In the same square is the Basilica of Saint Mark, the island's former patron saint during the Venetian occupation. Built in 1239, it was transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1669 and, since 1956, has been used as a municipal gallery.
* The Loggia, one of the finest examples of Venetian architecture in Crete, and Heraklion's current town hall (see website KTEL buses)