Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Sights in the old town, Square of the Lions, Titus church, harbour with fortress Koules, the huge city wall, churches, museums and hotels.

Heraklion seen from Koules Fortress.

Following the end of Second World War, Heraklion expanded at a fast tempo, primarily around 1950-1960, because of the touristic expansion of the area and whole Crete. So, many hotels in Heraklion have been established alongside tourist facilities and museums. It is a modern-day city, industrial and commercial along with the agri­cultural heart of the central and eastern island.

Heraklion, capital of Crete

In front of the city is the island of Dia located, to which sailing trips are available.

The guest to the Heraklion might begin from Eleftherias Square, the location where the Archeological Museum is at the start of Xanthou­didou Street. Opposing are the office buildings of EOT (‘Greek National Tourist Organization’) followed by the Dai­dalou Street, which is stone-paved and having a huge variety of shops, bars and restaurants and which ends up within Veni­zelou Square, called the ‘Square of the Lions’, due to the prominent Venetian water fountain which was created by Morosini in 1628. It has four lions with water streaming from their mouths into 8 basins and is furnished along with relief depictions from Greek mythology.

Square of the Lions
Square of the Lions – the Morosini fountain, deserted in winter.

The square had been the middle of Heraklion throughout the Venetian period comprising social complexes and the Ducal Palace, which has not overcome the times. East of the square is the basilica of Saint Mark, patron saint of the Vene­tians, built in 1239. The Turks transformed it into a mosque. These days, it has been remodeled and is utilized as an exhibition area for social happenings.
North of the square is El Greco Park and the tiny Kallergon Square.

At the beginniung of 25th Avgou­stou Street, on its right-hand place, is the Loggia, the most amazing monument from the Venetian period, designed by Francisco Morosini in 1625-1628. The Loggia is a rectangle, two-storey build­ing created from permeable rocks along with friezes around the higher section of the first floor and triglyphs and metopes. It had been the center of community life, a location where the nobles recovered and relaxed. Nowadays it is the residence of the Mayor’s office.

Venetian Loggia
The Venetian Loggia in Heraklion, Crete’s most beautiful secular building of the Renaissance period.

Straight east of the Loggia, on a stone made square, is the church of the patron saint of the Heraklion, the Apostle Titus. It isn’t recognized when the church had been constructed. The single fact confident is that it remained throughout the 2nd Byzan­tine period in the event the seat of the bishop of Crete was moved there coming from Gortys, which had been demolished. Additionally, it is unknown exactly what the authentic style of the church was since it had been seve­rely destroyed by an earthquake in 1508 and by a fire in 1544 and it was re-built from the fundamentals up, having a variety of modifications, in 1557.
Throughout the Venetian period it had been the chair of the Roman Catholic archbishop and throughout the Turkish control it was transformed into a mosque. It sustained considerable destruction within the earthquake of 1856 and was reconstructed in 1872. The church contains by far the most holy gifts of the Crete and also the head of Saint Titus.

Every year on August 25, a large procession is held from the church to celebrate Saint Titus Day.

Church Apostle Titus
Church Apostle Titus

25th Avgoustou Street connects to the middle of Heraklion towards the old Venetian harbor as well as the coastline roads of Kountourioti and Sophokli Venizelou which lead to the eastern and western areas of the city.

Venetian harbor
Boats in the Venetian harbor, behind them the fort Koules.

Venetian Harbor

In the front is the charming Venetian harbor filled with fishing boats, caiques and private crafts where the citadel of La Roca al Mare or Koules is behind, probably the most magnificent monuments on Crete. The original fort was small and it was demolished by an earth­quake in 1303; the actual had been created starting in 1523 and is the one which exists nowadays. The citadel has solid walls, and twenty-six all-purpose storage compartments. A ramp ends up in the top section which has been changed into an outdoor theater.


Opposed to Koules within the western section of the harbor, are the dock yards where the Venetian vessels had been assembled or serviced. East of the little harbor is the large, industrial and commercial harbor.

Venetian dock yards.
Opposite Koules the Venetian dock yards.

Dikaiosynis Avenue begins from Eleftherias sq. It is the most important road inside the classic city. On the left side are the former Venetian barracks, constructed in the 16th century, that have been renovated by the Turks in 1883. The Nomarchy (Prefecture Offices), the Courts, the Police and the Tourist Police also have their offices there.

mighty city walls with the 'Jesus gate'
The mighty city walls with the ‘Jesus gate’and the Martinengo Bastion in the background.

Old city walls

Following these complexes the road proceeds right to Eleftheriou Venizelou Square and right to 1866 Street, the location where the marketplace of Heraklion is actually. Kalokairinou Street, an extension of Dikaiosynis Street, is probably the best business oriented road in Heraklion. Throughout the Venetian times it had been known as Strata Sq. and ends up within the Panto­crator, or Chanion, Gate.

One additional fascinating excursion starts at Elefhteria Square, by way of Averof Street. It is a business road with lots of stores and ends up in Korna­rou Square. At the outset of the square is Evans Street, which is pointed to south toward the walls of the Heraklion along with the Kainouryia Porta (‘New Gate’) or Pyli tou lesou (‘Jesus Gate’) as the Venetians named it. Right hand, before the Kainouryia gate, is Plastira Street and further west the Martinengo Bastion in which the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis is.


In a tiny park on the left section of Kornarou Sq. is a today’s made bronze horse riding sculpture of ‘Ero­tokritos and Aretousa’ and to the right hand the Bembo water fountain, the earliest Venetian fountain in Chandax (as the Venetians called Heraklion) with ‘coast-of-arms’ in relief and a headless Roman sculpture.

To the west of the Square, Ayios Minas street connects to Kalokairinou Street. There is the grand cathedral of Ayios Minas on this road and next to it the tiny, old church of Ayios Minas while on the side of the square is the Church of Ayia Aikaterini of Sinai.

Mor pictures from Heraklion


Hotels in and around Heraklion

Overview of currently available hotels in and around Heraklion (Iraklio) at the best price!



The airport of Heraklion is called ‘Nikos Kazantzakis’. The current arrival times for flights can be found here and the departure times here.

Video about Heraklion

Video about the views of Heraklion from the city walls, from the Venetian harbor with the citadel and from the long mole out over the modern port.

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