The modern Heraklion still enjoys its reputation as one of the most attractive cities in Crete and Mediterranean! In addition to the natural beauty of its rural areas, the “Must Sees” in Heraklion attract thousands of visitors. There are many attractions in Heraklion, among which, you will see the most ancient monuments and samples of the first European culture.You will also see some of the most popular archaeological sites in the world, which still preserve the long history of Crete!
In this article, we have collected and present to you the Top “Must Sees” of the city, the attractions that you should not miss.Of course there are many others, which you will discover during your holidays in Heraklion.
1. The Minoan Palace of Knossos
Knossos palace is the largest and most important monument of the Minoan civilization in Crete and throughout Greece. Knossos was the palace of King Minos, the king of Crete. The archaeologist Arthur Evans discovered the Palace after excavations and he renovated it. The palace occupied an area of 20,000 sqm. and had several floors. You will be impressed from the majesty of the complex, the marvelous architecture, the quality of building materials, the beautiful frescoes that decorate every part of the building, the luxurious rooms and halls. The Minoan myths will unfold before your eyes!The site is open to the public daily 8.00-19.00.
2. Ancient Gortyn
The archaeological site of Ancient Gortyn is located near the village ofAgii Deka in Messara. Ancient Gortyn is an ancient Roman city with many finds dating from 15th BC century. The buildings include an amphitheater, a musical theater, a stadium, public baths and several temples. You can also view and many inscriptions.
3. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
The Archaeological Museum is certainly one of the “Must Sees” in Heraklion, as it is one of the most important museums in Crete and Europe. In the Archaeological Museum, you can admire an extensive collection of findings from the Minoan period, as well as objects from the Neolithic to the Roman era. The most important findingsfrom the Minoan palace of Crete are exposed in this museum: statues, inscriptions, sarcophagi, pottery, paintings, jewelry and everyday utensils. You will also see masterpieces of Minoan art, such as the Goddess of snakes, unique murals, thePhaistos Disc and priceless royal rings.
4. Historical Museum of Heraklion
The Historical Museum of Heraklion is housed in a building that is real historical monument. You will have the opportunity to admire items from the Byzantine and Medieval eras such as frescoes, icons, coins and jewelry. You can also see the collection of objects from the Crete’s revolution, as well as folklore objects (traditional costumes, embroidery, musical instruments). The highlight of the museum is the unique original painting of El Greco in Greece.
The Loggia is the most elegant Venetian monument in the city of Heraklion. It was built between the years 1625-1628 by Francesco Morosini. At first, the buildingoperated as a hall for meetings and decision-making by nobles and feudal lords of the area. On the building of Loggia are represented the two famous Greek rhythms: the columns on the ground floor are Doric, while on the first floor, they are Ionic. In 1987, Loggia was awarded as the best restored monument in Europe.
6. Koules Fortress
Koules Fortress is the landmark of Heraklion, and one of the “Must Sees” that could not miss from our list! The Fortress dominates the harbor of Heraklion. The fortress was used not only to protect the city, but also as a prison. West of Koules, there is the western coastal avenue, named as “Sophocles Venizelos”. Right on the sea wall has formed a promenade overlooking the sea, offering the opportunity for enjoyable walks.
7. The Fountain of Lions
The popular Fountain of Lions, or else, Morosini Fountain, is located in Lions Square. The Morosini fountain with the famous lions was created by the Venetians and got its name from its designer, Francesco Morosini. In addition to lions, the fountain is externally decorated with dolphins and nymphs, mythical creatures associated with the water element.
8. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of Heraklion is one of the most impressive in Greece! In one of its exhibitions, you will find the giant dinosaur, an animal that lived in Crete 9 million years ago. The earthquake room offers the guests the possibility to live actual earthquakes in absolutely safe conditions. Also, there is a research area of 250m2, dedicated exclusively to children up to 15 years.
9. Cretaquarium “Thalassocosmos”
Of course, one of the top “Must Sees” in Heraklion is the Cretaquarium. Visiting the Aquarium is one of the most exciting activities that somebody could participate in, along with children. Hundreds of marine species hosted in the Aquarium, reveal to you the charm of their behavior, the various shapes and colors of their own world, their habits and needs. Learn about them along with your children and make your own thoughts about our future.
Other “Must Sees” in Heraklion:
- The Medieval Walls
- The Basilica of San Marco (which hosts the Municipal Art Gallery)
- The Monastery of St. Catherine (hosts a rich collection of religious icons and religious paintings)
- The Cathedral of St. Minas
- The Old Gate of the city (Chanioporta) connecting Heraklion with the west side of Crete
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