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Iraklion (Heraklion)


The capital of the island and the largest city. In the middle of the north coast, is also the transport hub with the international airport and the seaport.

The city has a population of 120 000 the fifth largest in Greece.

Iraklion in ancient times serves as a port of Knossos but it is only in the 9th century AD that it appears as a town founded by the Saracens, at that time occupiers of Crete.

It became the slave trade centre in the Mediterranean, to be soon after taken over by the Venetians who built immense fortification walls, that stand intact even today, called it Kandax which was later paraphrased to become Candia.

During the four centuries of the Venetian occupation of Crete, many buildings were erected that are excellent examples of Venetian Architecture of that time, and many of them exist today.

The Basilica di San Marco and the Loggia are two such specimens, while the Morozini fountain with its four lions has even given its name in the central spot of the town.

A busy town, a communications hub that receive and distribute most tourism traffic arriving on the island, but light industry and Agriculture in the periphery, also affect the life.

Iraklion is very privileged today, to have in its suburb list, famous names like Knossos, and the most prominent city of the Minoan era.

Linked directly with Knossos, is the Iraklion Archaeological Museum housing most findings not only from Knossos but other Minoan Palaces like Phaestos in the south, Malia on the east and Zakros at the extreme east of Crete.

Of course, one will find many more items exposed in this very interesting museum from numerous other excavations around the island, which is definitely not short of history.

There are more museums in Iraklion but those of Byzantine art and the private of Nikos Kazantzakis have to be mentioned for their importance.


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