Greece – Fly to Heraklion


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare (1523–1540) guards the inner harbor of Heraklion.
The Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare (1523–1540) guards the inner harbor of Heraklion.
Seal of Heraklion
Coordinates 35°20′N 25°8′ECoordinates: 35°20′N 25°8′E
Country: Greece
Region: Crete
Regional unit: Heraklion
Districts: Nea alikarnasos,Gazi
Mayor: Ioannis Kourakis
Population Statistics (as of 2011)
 - Population: 176,000
 - Area: 24 km2 (9 sq mi)
 - Density: 7,333 /km2 (18,993 /sq mi)
 - Population: 173,450
 - Area: 20 km2 (8 sq mi)
 - Density: 8,673 /km2 (22,462 /sq mi)
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (min-max): 0 - 33 m ­(0 - 108 ft)
Postal: 70x xx, 71x xx, 720 xx
Telephone: 2810
Auto: HK, HP

Heraklion, or Heraclion (Greek: ?????e?? Greek pronunciation: [i'raklio]) is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete,Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece.

Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion peripheral unit. The ruins of Knossos, which were excavated and restored by Arthur Evans, are nearby. TheHeraklion International Airport is named after Nikos Kazantzakis.


The Andalusian raiders who founded the Emirate of Crete moved the island’s capital from Gortyna to what a new castle they called rab? al-?andaq ’Castle of the Moat’ in the 820s.[1] This was hellenized as ???da? (Handax) or ???da?a? and Latinized as Candia, which was taken into other European languages: French Candie, English Candy, all of which could refer to all of Crete as well as to the city itself; the Ottoman form was Kandiye.

After the Byzantine reconquest, the city was locally known as Megalo Kastro or Castro (the Big Castle in Greek) and its inhabitants were called Kastrinoi or Castrini (Castle-dwellers in Greek).

The pagan name ?????e??? was revived in the 19th century[2] and comes from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum (“Heracles’ 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 long ago as 2000 BC.


The present city of Heraklion was founded in 824 AD by the Saracens 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 ??? ??????, rab? al-?andaq (“Castle of the Moat”). The Saracens allowed the port to be used as a safe haven for pirates who operated against Imperial shipping and raided Imperial territory around the Aegean.

Restored Greek Era

Further information: Byzantine Greece

In 961 Imperial 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 of Chandax remained under Greek control for the next 243 years.

Venetian control

The Venetian loggia (1626–28).

? part of the Venetian walls.

Further information: Republic of Venice

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 EmperorIsaac 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 fromVenice 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.

Ottoman Era

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.[3] The Ottoman army under an Albanian grand vizier, Köprülü Fazil 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 (?e???? ??st??; “Big Castle”). During the Ottoman period, the harbour silted up, so most shipping shifted to Chania in the west of the island.

Modern Era

The Cathedral.

An outdoor market in Heraklion.

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.


The municipality Heraklion was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 5 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[4]

  • Gorgolainis
  • Heraklion
  • Nea Alikarnassos
  • Paliani
  • Temenos


A street of Heraklion.


Heraklion is an important shipping port and ferry dock. Travellers can take ferries and boats from Heraklion to a multitude of destinations including Santorini, Ios Island, Paros, Mykonos, and Rhodes. There are also several daily ferries to Piraeus, the port of Athens on mainland Greece.


Heraklion International Airport, or Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is located about 5 km 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, due to Crete being a major holiday destination.

There are regular domestic flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki and Rhodes with Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. Athens Airways also offers flights to and from Athens. Cyprus Airways and Aegean Airlines fly to and from Larnaca, in Cyprus. Furthermore, Sky Express operates direct flights to Aegean islands such as Rhodes, Santorini, Samos, Kos, Mytilini, and Ikaria.

Aegean Airlines has an international schedule to and from London and Paris and EasyJet flys direct from London Gatwick. During the summer, the number of scheduled and chartered flights increase as do the number of airlines that fly direct from all over Europe (mostly Germany, UK, Italy, and Russia).

The airfield is shared with the 126 Combat Group of the Hellenic Air Force.

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.

Public transit

There are a number of buses serving the city and connecting it to many major destinations in Crete.

Panoramic view of the Old Harbour.

Panoramic view of the harbour.


Crete has a warm Mediterranean climate. Summers in the lowlands are hot and dry with clear skies. Dry hot days are often relieved by seasonal breezes. The mountain areas are much cooler, with considerable rain in the winter. Winters are mild in the lowlands with rare frost and snow. Because Heraklion is further south than Athens, it has a milder climate.

[hide]Climate data for Heraklion
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.1
Average low °C (°F) 9.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 91.5
Avg. precipitation days 10.1 9.1 6.9 3.4 1.9 0.5 0.1 0.1 1.3 4.9 6.0 8.9 53.2
Sunshine hours 117.8 124.7 176.7 228.0 300.7 351.0 372.0 347.2 282.0 198.4 150.0 120.9 2,769.4
Source: Hong Kong Observatory[5]

Colleges, Universities, and Research Centers

  • University of Crete
  • TEI of Crete
  • Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas


The Phaistos disk (2nd millennium BC) inHeraklion Archaeological Museum.


  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum
  • Cretaquarium
  • 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 – in Heraklion, plays in the first division.
  • OFI Crete in Heraklion, plays in the first division.
  • Atsalenios – Football Club of Heraklion which plays in the third division.

Famous natives

Heraklion has been the home town of some of Greece’s most significant spirits, including the novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, the poet and Nobel Prize winner Odysseas Elytis and the world-famous painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco).


Epitaph on Nikos Kazantzakis’ grave. I don’t hope for anything, I don’t fear anything, I’m free.

  • 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
  • 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

Scientists and Scholars

Marcus Musurus (left) and Nicholas Kalliakis (right) were two significantRenaissance humanists, scholars and philosophers from Heraklion.[6]
  • Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707)- Greek Cretan scholar and philosopher[7]
  • Andreas Musalus (ca. 1665 – 1721) Greek Cretan professor of Mathematics, Philosopher and Architectural theorist[8]
  • Francesco Barozzi (1537–1604) mathematician and astronomer
  • Manolis Hatzidakis, archaeologist
  • Fotis Kafatos biologist, President of the European Research Council
  • 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
  • Gerasimos Vlachos (1607–1685), scholar
  • Simone Stratigo (ca. 1733 – 1824), Greek mathematician and an Nautical science expert, whose family was from Heraklion (Candia), Crete.[9]


El Greco (Dominikos Theotokopoulos).

  • 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
  • Theodoros Poulakis (1622–1692) painter of icons
  • Andreas Ritzos (1422–1492) painter of icons
  • Emmanuel Tzanes (1610–1690) painter of icons
  • Aristidis Vlassis (*1955) painter
  • Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907) painter

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


  • List of radio stations in Greece Greek music from Crete – heraklion live on the net
  • Rena Kyriakou (1918–1994) pianist
  • Fragiskos Leontaritis (Francesco Londarit) (1518–1572) composer
  • Christos Leontis (1940) composer
  • Giannis Markopoulos (1939) composer
  • Manolis Rasoulis (1945) lyrics writer
  • Notis Sfakianakis (1959) singer


  • Nikos Machlas (1973) footballer
  • Georgios Samaras (1985) footballer


  • Constantine Corniaktos (1517–1603) wine merchant and wealthiest man in the Eastern European city of Lviv.[10]
  • Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki (1955) business woman and politician


  • Leonidas Kyrkos, politician
  • Aristidis Stergiadis (1861–1950) High Commissioner of Smyrna
  • Georgios Voulgarakis (1959) conservative politician


  • Romilos Kedikoglou (1940) President of the Court of Cassation of Greece


  • Maximos Margunios (1549–1602), bishop of Cyrigo (Kythira)
  • Kyrillos Loukaris (1572–1637) theologian, Patriarch of Alexandria as Cyril III and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople as Cyril I
  • Meletius Pegas, Patriarch of Alexandria
  • Theodore II (1954) Patriarch of Alexandria
  • Peter Phillarges (ca. 1339–1410) (also Pietro Di Candia, later Pope Alexander V)


  • Maria Spiridaki (1984) fashion model and television presenter

Local TV stations

  • Channel 4
  • Creta Channel
  • Kriti TV
  • MyTV

Twin towns — sister cities

Heraklion is twinned with:

  • Romania Constanta, Romania
  • Bulgaria Pernik, Bulgaria