Heraklio TOWNS


Photo The seaside village of Agia Pelagia is built in the centre of a picturesque bay, 24 km. southwest from heraklion. It takes its name from the homonymouw churvh, in the Monastery of the Sebbathians, ruins of which are found at a distance of 1 km. west of the village. During the last few years, the resort has known great tourist development, as its sandy beaches attract many visitors who find here all kinds of services. From Aghia Pelagia you can visit the postminoan graves and the University (Pritanion) of the 4th century B.C. which were found in 1970 at the site Kladistos or Kladotos and support the view that this was the site of the ancient city of Apollonia. Worth visiting is also the nearby cave, with the name "Evresi", where - according to legend - local people found the icon of Agia Pelagia.


Photo The seaside resort of Amoudara is located about 6 km. west of Heraklion. Its 450 inhabitants live mainly off fishing and tourism. The busy resort of Amoudara has become very popural, mainly due to its extensive, sandy beaches.


Photo The picturesque village of Viannos, with the old traditional houses, the plane- trees and stone fountains, is built amphitheatrically on three hills, by the slopes of Dikta mountain. Viannos is located 66 km south-east of Heraklio and has a population of 1,700. Ancient Viannos participated in the alliance of the Cretan cities, under the rule of Eumenes B', King of Pergamos. It was then conquered by its powerful neighbour city of Ierapytna (Ierapetra). During the German occupation, Viannos was destroyed by the Germans, while all of its 820 inhabitants were executed. Viannos is the home land of author Ioannis Kondilakis. From Viannos, one should travel the church of Agia Pelagia, with lovely frescoes (1360 AD), the gorge of Viannos - Amiras, the shrine of Hermes and Venus at Kato Symi, as well as the cave of Vigla.


Photo The traditional village of Fodele is located 29 km. west of Heraklion and is built in an area of orange groves. According to historians, this was the site of the ancient town of Astali, which was the port of ancient Axos. The village is also known as the birthplace of the painter Dominicos Theotokopoulos, better known as "El Greco." A visit to the Fodele churches of The Holy Mother (Panaghia) built on 1383 and of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, built in the 11th or 12 century, is worthwhile, as well as to the ruins of the house where it is believed that El Greco was born. Near the village, and at the altitude of 450 meters, you will also find the venetian monastery of the Order of the Sabbath.


Photo Heraklio, the capital city of the homonymous County, has about 125.000 residents and is the biggest city of Crete, as far as the number of inhabitants is concerned. This is also the financial and administrative center of Crete, while its port is the biggest one on the island. According to historians, this was the site of the ancient roman town of Iraklia, the port of Knosos, which - after the arab occupation of the island, in 824 - became one of the busiest ports of the Mediterranean Sea. At that time, begun the fortoifications of the town, with the creation of a deep pit around the city (pit in arabic is hantak) and the building of a castle. Taking its name from the arabic word hantak, the city is then renamed to Hantakas. In 1961, the Byzantine emperor, Nikiforos Fokas takes over the city, which remains yunder byzantine rule up to about 1210. It is then taken over by the Venetians and it becomes known by the name of Handax or Candia. During the Venetian rule begins the building of the castle surrounding the city even today, while during the turkish occupation of the City it takes again its old name of Hiraklion, or Megalo Kastro (Great Castle) to the locals. The contemporary city of Chania, is full of shops, public squares and streets, where you will spot structures of the periods of the venetian and the turkish occupations. Among them, you will notice the overwhelming venetian castle or "Megalo Koule", which protects the venetian port, the Morozini Spring (1628) and the Bebo Spring (1588), the venetian Lotzia (1626 - 1628) and the awesome byzantine church of Aghios Titos, the cathedral of Aghios Minas and the church of Aghia Ekaterini (15th century). In Heraklion you will also find the - worth to visti - Archaelogical Museum, Historical and Traditional Museum, as well as the Museum of Natural History.


Photo Limenas Hersonisou is located at a distance of 27 km. south of Heraklion and it has about 2.200 residents. As its name tells us in greek, thw village is built on a small cape, full of exquisite, sandy beaches. According to historians, the area was inhabited during the prehistoric age, and for a long time it was the port of the ancient city of Litou. The minoan goddess Vritomartida Artemis was worshiped here, but there exist no remains of her temple. The area is full of roman remains and the ruins of two protochristian churches of the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. Today Hersonisos is one of the busiest and most developed tourist areas of Crete, where th\e visitor can find all kinds of entertainment. Along the beaches there exist many hotel complexes, shops, restaurants and bars, which are full of Greek and foreign tourists during the summer. The homonymous village is further inland and at a small distance from the busy tourist center. At the end of the town you will visit the Laographic Museum of Liknostatis, which is worth visiting.


Photo The picturesque village of Kali Limenes, with 100 inhabitants, is located west of Levina and the cape of Lenta, 82 km south- west of Heraklio. According to historians, the Apostle Paul disembarked here, on his way to Rome. Visitors can go, by boat, to the monastery of Koudouma and Tsoutsouras. By boat or car, one can also visit Lenta, a small seaside community, and the nearby ancient city of Levin, famous for its Asklepieum. Near the beach stands the islet of Trakos, as well as ancient Lassea, one of ancient Gortys' harbours.


Photo The "head" village of Kastelli is located at distance of 36 km. southeast of Heraklion. Near the village a cemetary has been unearthed dating back to the Roman period, while historians believe that the building housing the village High School, is built on the ruins of a venetian castle (Castello) which gave its name to the village. The village residents, numbering at about 2000, live off agriculture and mainly off the cultivation of grape vines and olive trees of the plateau of Pediada. From Kastelli it is worth to pay a visit at the excavation site of the ancient city of Litou, at a distance of 4 km., which is of great archaelogical interest.


Photo The seaside resort of Malia is built along an exquisite sandy beach, about 36 km. east of Heraklion. A rich plateau, boasting a great number of watermills, surrounds the village, with cultivations of orange groves and groceries. Today, the village is characterized by great tourist development and is one of the most visited areas on the island. From Malia, you may visit the archaelogical site of Malia, where a minoan town has been found as well as an exquisite minoan mansion.


Photo The resort village of Matala is located at a distance of about 70 km. southwest of Heraklion and its has 300 residents. In antiquity, Matala was the second port of Phaestos, and after its destruction in 220 B.C., it became the port of ancient Gortina. During the past few years, the resort has great toursit development. Its beautiful beaches and the spectacular caves atrract many swimmers. According to archaelogists, the prehistoric people of the area lived in some of these caves, while others were used as graves during the 1st and 2nd centuries. During the '70s, the caves became a symbol and a gathering place for hippies from all over thwe world. Starting out from Matala, it is worthwhile to visit the Monastery of Odigitria (She who leads) a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Apostles.


Photo The seaside resort of Stalida is located at a distance of about 33 km. east of Heraklion, in a beautiful area with nice beaches sparse meadows. The village has few residents, who live off tourism, since its development is important during the last years.


Photo The picturesque village of Tylissos is located 14 km west of the city of Heraklio, on the eastern slope of Psiloritis. The area is also known for the ruins of three Minoan mansions of the Early Palace Period, which were ruined -as all Minoan palaces- in 1400- 1500 BC. It is also a good idea to visit the ruins of the Minoan mansion at Sklavokambos, 8-10 km west of Tylissos.