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By the way, we would recommend you to combine your visit to Heraklion with other popular and interesting places of Greece, for example: Marathokampos, Sporades, Lindos, Kriopigi, Athens, Sparta, Thasos, Patmos, Dassia, Laganas, Lemnos, Poros, Monemvasia, Nafplio, Lesbos, Chaniotis, Rethymno, Mytilene, Kardamaina, Ionian Islands, Hersonissos, Chios, Samothrace, Samos, Halkidiki, Chania, Meteora, Agios Gordios, Afytos, Pythagoreio, Cephalonia, Santorini, Paleokastritsa, Sithonia, Parga, Corinth, Dodecanese, Afantou, Crete, Spetses, Kalymnos, Cyclades, Peloponnese, Kavos, Kassandra, Aegina, Heraklion, Patras, Syros, Katerini, Pefkochori, Ialysos, Kos, Zakynthos, Neos Marmaras, Kokkari, Corfu, Pefkos, Naxos, Delphi, Mithymna, Arkadia, Karpathos, Lefkada, Thessaloniki, Faliraki, Acharavi, Tingaki, Kalavryta, Sidari, Andros, Rhodes, Mount Athos, Kefalos, Hydra, Kalamata, Loutraki, Polychrono, Mykonos, etc.
How to Book a Hotel in Heraklion
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Hotels of Heraklion
A hotel in Heraklion is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Heraklion hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Heraklion are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Heraklion hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Heraklion hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Heraklion have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Heraklion
An upscale full service hotel facility in Heraklion that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Heraklion hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Heraklion
Full service Heraklion hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Heraklion
Boutique hotels of Heraklion are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Heraklion boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Heraklion may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Heraklion
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Heraklion travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Heraklion focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Heraklion
Small to medium-sized Heraklion hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Heraklion traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Heraklion hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Heraklion
A bed and breakfast in Heraklion is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Heraklion bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Heraklion B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Heraklion
Heraklion hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Heraklion hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Heraklion
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Heraklion hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Heraklion lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Heraklion
Heraklion timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Heraklion often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Heraklion on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Heraklion
A Heraklion motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Heraklion for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Heraklion motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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The Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare (1523–1540) guards the inner harbor of Heraklion.
Location within the region
Coordinates: / 35.333; 25.133 / 35.333; 25.133
244.6 km (94.4 sq mi)
• Municipal unit
109.0 km (42.1 sq mi)
33 m (108 ft)
0 m (0 ft)
• Municipality density
710/km (1,800/sq mi)
• Municipal unit
• Municipal unit density
1,400/km (3,600/sq mi)
• Summer (DST)
70x xx, 71x xx, 720 xx
Heraklion (/hᵻˈrækliən/, Greek: Ηράκλειο, Irákleio, pronounced [iˈraklio], Turkish: Kandiye, Italian: Candia) is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete. It is the fourth largest city in Greece. According to the results of the 2011 census, the population of the city proper was 140,730 inhabitants, the municipality's was 173,993 while the Heraklion urban area has a population of 225,574 and it extends over an area of 684.3 km (264.2 sq mi).
Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion regional unit.
The Bronze Age palace of Knossos, also known as the Palace of Minos, is located nearby.
The Arab raiders from Andalusia (Iberia) who founded the Emirate of Crete moved the island's capital from Gortyna to a new castle they called ربض الخندق rabḍ al-ḫandaq 'Castle of the Moat' in the 820s. This was hellenized as Χάνδαξ (Khándax) or Χάνδακας (Khándakas) and Latinized as Candia, which was taken into other European languages: in Italian and Latin as Candia, in French as Candie, in English as Candy, all of which could refer to the island of Crete as a whole as well as to the city alone; the Ottoman name was Kandiye.
After the Byzantine reconquest, the city was locally known as Megalo Kastro (Μεγάλο Κάστρο, 'Big Castle' in Greek) or Castro and its inhabitants were called Kastrinoi or Castrini ('castle-dwellers' in Greek).
The ancient name Ηράκλειον was revived in the 19th century and comes from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum ("Heracles's city"), whose exact location is unknown. English usage formerly preferred the classicizing transliterations "Heraklion" or "Heraclion", but the form "Iraklion" is becoming more common.
The snake goddess (c.1600 BCE) in Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Heraklion is close to the ruins of the palace of Knossos, which in Minoan times was the largest centre of population on Crete. Though there is no archaeological evidence of it, Knossos may well have had a port at the site of Heraklion as early as 2000 BC.
Heraklion: Emirate of Crete
The present city of Heraklion was founded in 824 by the Muslims under Abu Hafs Umar who had been expelled from Al-Andalus by Emir Al-Hakam I and had taken over the island from the Eastern Roman Empire. They built a moat around the city for protection, and named the city ربض الخندق, rabḍ al-ḫandaq ("Castle of the Moat"). It became the capital of the Emirate of Crete (ca. 827–961). The Saracens allowed the port to be used as a safe haven for pirates who operated against Imperial (Byzantine) shipping and raided Imperial territory around the Aegean.
Heraklion: Byzantine era
Further information: Byzantine Crete
St. Matthew of the Sinaites Byzantine church
In 961, Byzantine forces under the command of Nikephoros Phokas, later to become Emperor, landed in Crete and attacked the city. After a prolonged siege, the city fell. The Saracen inhabitants were slaughtered, the city looted and burned to the ground. Soon rebuilt, the town was renamed Χάνδαξ, Chandax, and remained under Greek control for the next 243 years.
Heraklion: Venetian era
Further information: Kingdom of Candia
Α part of the Venetian harbour (used as shipyards).
In 1204, the city was bought by the Republic of Venice as part of a complicated political deal which involved, among other things, the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade restoring the deposed Eastern Roman Emperor Isaac II Angelus to his throne. The Venetians improved on the ditch of the city by building enormous fortifications, most of which are still in place, including a giant wall, in places up to 40 m thick, with 7 bastions, and a fortress in the harbour. Chandax was renamed Candia and became the seat of the Duke of Candia, and the Venetian administrative district of Crete became known as "regno di Candia" (kingdom of Candia). The city retained the name of Candia for centuries and the same name was often used to refer to the whole island of Crete as well. To secure their rule, Venetians began in 1212 to settle families from Venice on Crete. The coexistence of two different cultures and the stimulus of Italian Renaissance led to a flourishing of letters and the arts in Candia and Crete in general, that is today known as the Cretan Renaissance.
Heraklion: Ottoman era
Further information: Siege of Candia
Depiction of the Siege of Candia
The Ottoman Vezir Mosque (1856), built on the site of the church of St Titus, and now the basilica of St Titus.
After the Venetians came the Ottoman Empire. During the Cretan War (1645–1669), the Ottomans besieged the city for 21 years, from 1648 to 1669, perhaps the longest siege in history. In its final phase, which lasted for 22 months, 70,000 Turks, 38,000 Cretans and slaves and 29,088 of the city's Christian defenders perished. The Ottoman army under an Albanian grand vizier, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha conquered the city in 1669. Under the Ottomans, the city was known officially as Kandiye (again also applied to the whole island of Crete) but informally in Greek as Megalo Castro (Μεγάλο Κάστρο; "Big Castle"). During the Ottoman period, the harbour silted up, so most shipping shifted to Chania in the west of the island.
Heraklion: Modern era
In 1898, the autonomous Cretan State was created, under Ottoman suzerainty, with Prince George of Greece as its High Commissioner and under international supervision. During the period of direct occupation of the island by the Great Powers (1898–1908), Candia was part of the British zone. At this time, the city was renamed "Heraklion", after the Roman port of Heracleum ("Heracles' city"), whose exact location is unknown.
In 1913, with the rest of Crete, Heraklion was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece. Heraklion became capital of Crete in 1971, replacing Chania.
Heraklion: Architecture and urban sculpture
The fountain in Lions Square.
The Venetian loggia (1626–28).
Agios Minas Cathedral in honour of Saint Menas, patron saint of the city.
At the port of the city dominate the Venetian constructions, such as the Koules Fortress (Rocca al Mare), the ramparts and the arsenal.
Around the city can be found several sculptures, statues and busts commemorating significant events and figures of the city's and island's history, like El Greco, Vitsentzos Kornaros, Nikos Kazantzakis and Eleftherios Venizelos.
Also, many fountains of the Venetian-era are preserved, such as the Bembo fountain, the Priuli fountain, Palmeti fountain, Sagredo fountain and Morosini fountain (in Lions Square).
The municipality Heraklion was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 5 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
The municipality has an area of 244.613 km, the municipal unit 109.026 km.
View of the port
Heraklion is an important shipping port and ferry dock. Travellers can take ferries and boats from Heraklion to destinations including Santorini, Ios Island, Paros, Mykonos, and Rhodes. There are also several daily ferries to Piraeus, the port of Athens in mainland Greece.
Heraklion International Airport, or Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is located about 5 kilometres (3 miles) east of the city. The airport is named after Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a writer and philosopher. It is the second busiest airport of Greece, because of Crete being a major holiday destination.
The airfield is shared with the 126 Combat Group of the Hellenic Air Force.
Heraklion: Highway network
European route E75 runs through the city and connects Heraklion with the three other major cities of Crete: Agios Nikolaos, Chania, and Rethymno.
Heraklion: Public transit
There are a number of buses serving the city (more information visit ) and connecting it to many major destinations in Crete.
From 1922 to 1937, there was a working industrial railway, which connected the Koules in Heraklion to Xiropotamos, for the construction of the harbor.
A study from the year 2000 investigated the feasibility for two tram lines in Heraklion. The first line would link the Stadium to the airport, and the second the center of Heraklion and Knossos. No approval has yet been given for this proposal.
In the summer of 2007, at the Congress of Cretan emigrants, held in Heraklion, two qualified engineers, George Nathenas (from Gonies, Malevizi Province) and Vassilis Economopoulos, recommended the development of a railway line in Crete, linking Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion, with a total journey time of 50 minutes (30 minutes between Heraklion and Rethymnon, 20 minutes from Chania to Rethymnon) and with provision for extensions to Kissamos, Kastelli Pediados (for the planned new airport), and Aghios Nikolaos. No plans exist for implementing this idea.
Panoramic view of the old harbour.
Panoramic view of the harbour.
Heraklion has a hot-summer-Mediterranean climate (Csa in the Koeppen climate classification). Summers are warm to hot and dry with clear skies. Dry hot days are often relieved by seasonal breezes. Winters are very mild with moderate rain. Because Heraklion is further south than Athens, it has a milder climate.
Climate data for Heraklion 1961–1990
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Hong Kong Observatory NOAA (extremes)
A new temperature record for February was set at 27.8 °C, reached on 15 February 2016.
16 °C (61 °F)
15 °C (59 °F)
15 °C (59 °F)
16 °C (61 °F)
19 °C (66 °F)
22 °C (72 °F)
24 °C (75 °F)
25 °C (77 °F)
24 °C (75 °F)
22 °C (72 °F)
20 °C (68 °F)
18 °C (64 °F)
19.7 °C (67.5 °F)
Heraklion: Colleges, universities, libraries, and research centers
The Phaistos disk (2nd millennium BC) in Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Natural History Museum of Crete
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Historical Museum of Crete
Natural History Museum
The Battle of Crete and National Resistance Museum
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
Lychnostatis Open Air Museum
Collection of Agia Aikaterini of Sinai
Museum of Visual Arts
The city hosts three football clubs, Ergotelis FC, OFI Crete and Atsalenios aw well another clubs in various sports. The main club of Heraklion (not included the suburb Nea Alikarnassos) are:
Sport clubs based in Heraklion
Greek football cup, 2nd Place at A Ethniki
Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki
Presence in A Ethniki
Presence in Gamma Ethniki
Heraklion: Famous natives
Nicholas Kalliakis was a significant Renaissance humanist, scholar and philosopher from Heraklion.}}
El Greco (Dominikos Theotokopoulos)
Epitaph on Nikos Kazantzakis' grave. I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I'm free.
Heraklion has been the home town of some of Greece's most significant spirits, including the novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (perhaps best known for his novel Zorba the Greek), the poet and Nobel Prize winner Odysseas Elytis and the world-famous painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco).
Elli Alexiou (1894–1988) author
Aris Diktaios, poet and translator
Minás Dimákis (1913–1980) poet
Odysseas Elytis (1911–1996) Nobel awarded poet
Tess Fragoulis, Greek-Canadian author
Rea Galanaki (1947–present) author
Giritli Ali Aziz Efendi (1749–1798), author and diplomat
Galatea Kazantzaki author
Nikos Kazantzakis (1883–1957) author
Pedro de Candia, (1485–1542) author and travel writer, recorded the Spanish Conquest of the Americas
Ioannis Kondylakis (1862–1920) author
Vitsentzos Kornaros (1553–1613) author
Stephanos Sahlikis (1330-after 1391) poet
Lili Zografou (1922–1998) author
Heraklion: Scientists and scholars
Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707)- Greek Cretan scholar and philosopher
Niccolò Comneno Papadopoli (1655–1740) lawyer, historian and librarian.
Andreas Musalus (ca. 1665–1721) Greek Cretan professor of Mathematics, Philosopher and Architectural theorist
Francesco Barozzi (1537–1604) mathematician and astronomer
Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (1591-1655) rabbi, author, physician, mathematician, and musical theorist
Manolis Hatzidakis, archaeologist
Fotis Kafatos biologist, President of the European Research Council
Spyros Kokotos (1933–present) architect
Maximos Margunios (1549–1602) scholar, theologian, poet and writer, titular bishop of Kythira
Marcus Musurus (Markos Mousouros) (1470–1517) scholar and philosopher
Nikolaos Panagiotakis (1935–1997) byzantinologist
Peter of Candia also known as Antipope Alexander V, philosopher and scholar
Joseph Sifakis (1946–present) computer scientist, co-recipient of the 2007 Turing Award
Michael N. Katehakis (1952–present) applied mathematician and operations research Rutgers University
Gerasimos Vlachos (1607–1685), scholar
Simone Stratigo (ca. 1733–1824), Greek mathematician and an Nautical science expert, whose family was from Heraklion (Candia)
Heraklion: Painting and sculpture
Manolis Betinakis (1946–2015) painter of icons
Theophanes (ca.1500–1559) painter of icons
Michael Damaskinos (1530/35-1592/93) painter of icons
El Greco (1541–1614) mannerist painter, sculpturer and architect
Georgios Klontzas (1540–1607) painter of icons
Ioannis Parmakelis (1932–) sculptor
Theodoros Poulakis (1622–1692) painter of icons
Andreas Ritzos (1422–1492) painter of icons
Emmanuel Tzanes (1610–1690) painter of icons
Aristidis Vlassis (1947–2015) painter
Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907) painter
Heraklion: Film industry
Giorgos Anemogiannis, scenographer
Rika Diallina (1934), actress and model, Miss Hellas
Ilya Livykou (1919–2002), actress
Sapfo Notara (1907–1985), actress
Aleka Paizi, actress
Yannis Smaragdis (1946), film director
Rena Kyriakou (1918–1994) pianist
Francisco Leontaritis (Francesco Londarit) (1518–1572) composer
Christos Leontis (1940) composer
Giannis Markopoulos (1939) composer
Manolis Rasoulis (1945–2011) lyrics writer
Nikos Xilouris (1936–1980) composer and singer
Notis Sfakianakis (1959) singer
Nikos Machlas (1973) footballer
Georgios Samaras (1985) footballer
Greg Massialas (1956), American fencer and fencing coach
Constantine Corniaktos (1517–1603) wine merchant and wealthiest man in the Eastern European city of Lviv
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki (1955) business woman, lawyer and politician
Leonidas Kyrkos (1924–2011), politician
Aristidis Stergiadis (1861–1950) High Commissioner of Smyrna
Lathrop C. Harper (1886). Catalogue / Harper (Lathrop C.) inc., New York, Issue 232. Lathrop C. Harper, Inc. p. 36. OCLC 11558801. Calliachius (1645–1707) was born on Crete and went to Italy at an early age, where he soon became one of the outstanding teachers of Greek and Latin.
Rose, Hugh James; Rose, Henry John; Wright, Thomas (1857). A new general biographical dictionary, Volume 5. T. Fellowes. p. 425. OCLC 309809847. CALLIACHI, (Nicholas,) a native of Candia, where he was born in 1645. He studied at Rome for ten years, at the end of which time he was made doctor of philosophy and theology. In 1666 he was invited to Venice, to take the chair of professor of the Greek and Latin languages, and of the Aristotelic philosophy; and in 1677 he was appointed professor of belles-lettres at Padua, where he died in 1707. His works on antiquities are valuable, and have been published by the marquis Poloni in the third volume of his Supplement to the Thesaurus Antiquitatum.
Convegno internazionale nuove idee e nuova arte nell '700 italiano, Roma, 19–23 maggio 1975. Accademia nazionale dei Lincei. 1977. p. 429. OCLC 4666566. Nicolò Duodo riuniva alcuni pensatori ai quali Andrea Musalo, oriundo greco, professore di matematica e dilettante di architettura chiariva le nuove idée nella storia dell’arte.
Carlo Capra; Franco Della Peruta; Fernando Mazzocca (2002). Napoleone e la repubblica italiana: 1802–1805. Skira. p. 200. ISBN 978-88-8491-415-6. Simone Stratico, nato a Zara nel 1733 da famiglia originaria di Creta (abbandonata a seguito della conquista turca del 1669)
I︠A︡roslav Dmytrovych Isai︠e︡vych (2006). Voluntary brotherhood: confraternities of laymen in early modern Ukraine. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. p. 47. ISBN 1-894865-03-0. …the Greek merchants Constantine Korniakt and Manolis Arphanes Marinetos are added. This second redaction appeared no earlier than 1589, as wealthy Greeks began to join the confraternity at a later date, once it had expanded its activities. Korniakt was actually the wealthiest man in Lviv: he traded in Eastern, Western, and local goods, collected customs duty on behalf of the king, and owned a number of villages.
"Limassol Twinned Cities". Limassol (Lemesos) Municipality. Archived from the original on 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
"Twinnings" (PDF). Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
Heraklion: External links
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Classical and Hellenistic period
Creta et Cyrenaica
First Byzantine period
Emirate of Crete
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Revolt of Saint Titus
Cretan War (1645–69)
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Administrative division of the Crete Region
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Municipal unit of Heraklion
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