Written by GB from Devizes on 04 Dec, 2006
No trip to Crete is complete without a visit to its bustling capital, Heraklion. This year was no different, and we were fortunate to find several sights that were new to us.Every year since 2000, there has been a huge boarding covering up the row…Read More
No trip to Crete is complete without a visit to its bustling capital, Heraklion. This year was no different, and we were fortunate to find several sights that were new to us.Every year since 2000, there has been a huge boarding covering up the row of vaulted Arsenali down by the harbour. It has now been removed, and, for the first time, we were able to see the restoration work taking place on these huge hangars where the Venetians built and repaired their galley fleet.Much of Crete's lower mountain slopes were once cloaked in thick pine forests. When the Venetians took control of the island, they saw this natural resource as an ideal way to repair and maintain their fleet of ocean-going ships and within a few years, had removed much of the forestation which was dragged overland to the new harbour they'd constructed at Heraklion.Another great surprise was to find the Morozini Fountain in full working mode; again, not seen by us on any previous trip. This beautifully sculpted piece dates from 1628 and was constructed by Francesco Morozini, the Venetian governor of Candia as Heraklion was then named. The four lions that protect the fountain were however carved three centuries earlier and incorporated into the newer design. The water for the fountain was brought into the city by way of a 10-mile long aqueduct from Mount Giouchtas.This stunning fountain also features a superb maritime frieze of cherubs, nymphs and mermaids and was once topped by a statue of Neptune that has unfortunately been long since lost.We chanced across a wonderful display of modern mosaic pictures depicting famous scenes and characters from Greek mythology, these being shown at the front entrance to the beautiful Venetian Loggia.Being late September, there were not the hordes of tourists around that we'd encountered in previous years, which made movement through the streets somewhat easier, although the weather was unseasonably hot at 32˚C.With the wind that day coming from the east, it was an awesome sight to see a Boeing 747 on approach to Kazantzakis airport skimming the rooftops of this ancient city before touching down just 3km away.Heraklion may be dusty, noisy, and clogged with traffic, but it is so essentially Greek, and the people are so friendly. Browsing in Odos 1866 at a fruit stall, we declined the goods on offer, so, instead of making a sale, the owner gave us a huge chunk of water melon. Where else would you get that?After lunch at a superb restaurant at the harbour end of Odos 25 Augoustou, we walked to the nearby bus station to catch the #2 bus to Knossos Palace, just outside the city on the road to Archanes. That is detailed in the next entry. Close
Written by GB from Devizes on 10 Sep, 2004
Driving through the roads to this bustling city, two thoughts immediately enter your mind: first, on an island with a total population of 500,000 how can all of them be here at once; and second, how can people drive like this and actually survive the…Read More
Driving through the roads to this bustling city, two thoughts immediately enter your mind: first, on an island with a total population of 500,000 how can all of them be here at once; and second, how can people drive like this and actually survive the day? We parked at the low-level, open-air car park just to the side of the famous Archaeological Museum and stepped out into the boiling day.
With only 500 words to spare, I think its best just to highlight the major must-see sights of this ancient city, which has been, at various times in history, ruled by the Romans, Saracens, Byzantines, Venetians and Turks - very evident in it's stunning architecture.
-The Morozini Fountain, commissioned in 1628 by the Venetian governor of old Heraklion or Candia, as it was then.
-Opposite there, the Basilica of Agios Marcos.
-The Church of Agios Titos and opposite here, the magnificent Venetian Loggia.
-The tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, situated at the most southern point in the town walls.
-The Venetian Fort that protects the harbour.
-The Arsenali, right by the harbour where the Venetians built and maintained their fleet of ships.
-Odos 1866 commonly known as Market St, which is full of the smells from hundreds of stalls selling everything from bread, vegetables, meat, and fruit to herbs, leather, linen, and woven rugs, is an absolute must.
-The City Walls to marvel at the massive scale of the ancient construction.
-The Archaeological Museum, cool inside and a must either prior to or after visiting Knossos.
-The Historical Museum, which chronicles Crete's turbulent past.
-Plateia Venizelou, full of pavement cafes where you can sit and watch the bustle of Heraklion go by.
-The stunning ceiling frescoes in the Church of Ayia Maria, close to the Historical Museum.
-El Greco Park, dominated by a bust of the man himself.
Obviously, every visitor will have his or her must-sees, but I'm sure that the above list will serve to give a good, all-round view and feeling for this wonderful, charismatic old city.