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Region of Crete
Category: Administration
Prefecture: Heraclion
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Region of Crete


The prefecture of Heraklion is the largest in area, lies between the prefectures of Rethymnon and Lassithi, has the greatest population and the highest per capita income of Crete. Its capital is also Heraklion and the biggest town of Crete. It has approximately 150,000 inhabitants. It concentrates the biggest economical activity of the island and attracts many tourists every year. There are so many sites which worth visiting that you can't decide where to go first. Heraklion is inhabited since antiquity. The ancient towns of Knossos, Phaestos, Malia etc. will bring you to the Minoan era. The Venetian monuments spread all over the town give Heraklion a charming image. Should you come to Heraklion, you mustn't miss visiting the archaeological museum. Heraklion is a very active city, where you can enjoy anything which comes into your mind. The best night life, cinemas, restaurants, luxury hotels, bungalows and anything that you will need to have wonderful vacations. There are seven provinces in this prefecture: Malevizi, Temenos, and Pediada on the north coast and Pirgiotisa, Kainourio, Monofatsi, and Viannos in the centre and on the south coast. The main cities are Timbaki, Ano Viannos, Matala, and Mires. The northwestern area of the prefecture of Heraklion is comprised of the three provinces of Malevizi, Temenos, and Pediada. The main city is Heraklion. This area is the largest of grape - producing areas of Crete and its main products are sultana raisins, Malevizi (Malmsey) wine, and table grapes (Rosaki). In these valleys Sir Arthur Evans, the British archaeologist, excavated the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the remains of a great civilization. A low mountain range rises in the middle of the prefecture and descends into the Messara Plain. These fertile plains have been cultivated for thousands of years and have important Minoan, Greek, and Roman archaeological sites -- Festos, Agia Triada, and Gortys are the major ones. The imposing peak of Psiloritis, 2,456 metres above sea level, is visible from almost all points of the prefecture of Heraklion. It is especially impressive during the winter months when it is snow-capped. The prefecture of Heraklion has many cultural and historical features to offer the visitor. The finest collection of Minoan artefacts in the world and the sites of one of history's greatest civilizations may be of interest as well as the numerous Byzantine churches and Venetian castles and fountains. The historical aspects combine with the scenic landscapes of mountains, valleys, and sea to make this a beautiful and fascinating area. The beaches of Agia Pelagia and Limin Hersonisou (also known as just Hersonissos) on the north coast and Matala and Kali Limenes on the south coast will attract the visitor with their warm, clear seas. There are many fine restaurants and tavernas offering Cretan specialities throughout the area. The eastern part of the Heraklion prefecture has some major tourist resorts near the sea (Limin Hersonisou), some major archaeological sites (Malia), and many important Byzantine churches. The southern area of the prefecture of Heraklion includes the four provinces of Pirgiotisa, Kainourio, Monofatsi, and Viannos. The most prominent physical feature here is the Pediada Messaras. It stretches east from Timbaki to Ano Viannos. The plain is between the low mountain ranges of the south and north. The main products of Messara are cereals, olives, and fruits. and cultivation goes on year-round, aided by the use of hothouses to increase productivity. If you love nature and sea, there are so many beaches in the north and south of the prefecture that will surely cast a spell on you. The plains of Messara give you the opportunity to enjoy the view of numerous fruit trees of all varieties and smell the air of unique natural environment.


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Makasi Gate
Makasi Gate 2608 hits

The Gate Makasi (meaning "switchman" in Turkish) is a military gate of the Venetian Walls of Heraklion, the gallery of which had a length of 110 meters. The gallery leads to the eastern low square of Martinengo bastion, that housed the canons that protected the bastion Bethlehem.
The gallery is used as a memorial for the National Resistance in Crete, as here the Germans imprisoned hundreds of locals in the Second World War. On July 15, 1943, when the so-called Big Blockade of Crete took place, dozens of Christians and Jews were captured and imprisoned here.
On November 4, 1943, many prisoners were transferred to Mauthausen concentration camp, while other 600 boarded on June 8, 1944 in Tanais ferry to Piraeus. However in the open sea, the Germans got rid of the 600 souls by sinking the ship and then announced that the British navy sank ship. The Germans never paid for these atrocities, just like all such stories in Crete.

Archeological Museum of Heraclion
Archeological Museum of Heraclion 2592 hits
 
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Herakleion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide. 
 
The museum, located in the town centre, was built between 1937 and 1940 by architect Patroklos Karantinos on a site previously occupied by the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by earthquake in 1856. The museum's antiseismic building is an important example of modernist architecture and was awarded a Bauhaus commendation. Karantinos applied the principles of modern architecture to the specific needs of a museum by providing good lighting from the skylights above and along the top of the walls, and facilitating the easy flow of large groups of people. He also anticipated future extensions to the museum. The colours and construction materials, such as the veined polychrome marbles, recall certain Minoan wall-paintings which imitate marble revetment. The two-storeyed building has large exhibition spaces, laboratories, a drawing room, a library, offices and a special department, the so-called Scientific Collection, where numerous finds are stored and studied. The museum shop, run by the Archaeological Receipts Fund, sells museum copies, books, postcards and slides. There is also a cafe. 
 
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture and its purpose is to acquire, safeguard, conserve, record, study, publish, display and promote Cretan artefacts from the Prehistoric to the Late Roman periods. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions in Greece and abroad, collaborates with scientific and scholarly institutions, and houses a variety of cultural events.
 
History
The first archaeological collection of the town of Herakleion was constituted in 1883 with the initiative of the local Philekpaideutikos Syllogos (Association of Friends of Education), which was headed by the doctor and antiquarian Joseph Chatzidakis. Chatzidakis also obtained permission from the Ottoman authorities to establish the first 'archaeological service'. The collection was housed inside two rooms in the courtyard of the cathedral of Agios Minas, and by 1900 was enriched with private donations, new acquisitions and finds from the first small excavations and surface surveys. After large-scale excavations began on the island in 1900, the archaeological collection came to include the first important finds from these. Around that time the museum was ceded to the newly established Cretan state and was subsequently moved to the barracks building of the modern nome of Herakleion under the first Keepers of Antiquities Joseph Chatzidakis and Stephanos Xanthoudidis. 
 
The first display room was built in 1904-1907 over the remains of the famous Venetian monastery of Saint Francis, next to the Hounkiar Djami. The antiquities' collection was moved there after the addition of a second room in 1908. In 1912, this small building was given a Neoclassical appearance with the construction of a west wing designed by architect Wilhelm D?rpfeld and Panagis Kavvadias, Secretary of the Athens Archaeological Society. The collection continued to be enriched by the finds from the great excavations by Greek and foreign archaeologists. 
 
The construction of the current museum began in 1937 on plans by architect Patroklos Karantinos. During the Second World War the museum's antiquities were at great risk, but they were saved thanks to the exertions of Professor Nikolaos Platon. Platon supervised the re-exhibition of the museum's treasures and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1952. The display illustrated the chronological development of Minoan civilization, the history of archaeological research and of the great discoveries on Crete during the early twentieth century (Knossos, Phaistos and Malia palaces etc), and the prevalent theories on Aegean Prehistory. In 1962 the museum bought the collection of the Cretan doctor Stylianos Giamalakis, which was displayed on the first floor. In 1964 the new wing was added to the building and the museum's director Stylianos Alexiou subsequently completed the exhibition. In 2000 the museum acquired the Nikos Metaxas collection, part of which will soon go on display. 
 
In 1987 the building received new electricity, air conditioning and fire protection installations, and the skylights in the display rooms were replaced with false ceilings and artificial lighting. A new refurbishment based on plans by architect Alexandros Tombazis began in 2002; it will include the re-opening of the original skylights, new electro-mechanical installations (air conditioning, lighting, security, fire protection etc) and a new wing of storerooms to the north of the building. It will also highlight the remains of the Venetian church of Saint Francis on the east side of the atrium.
 
 
Exhibitions
The permanent exhibition of the Herakleion Archaeological Museum
The collections of the Herakleion Archaeological Museum include unique works of Cretan art, found in excavations across the central and eastern part of the island and which cover a chronological span of roughly 7000 years, from the Neolithic (7000 BC) to the Roman period (3rd century AD). Most objects date to prehistoric times and to the so-called Minoan period, named after the island's mythical king, Minos. They include pottery, carved stone objects, seals, small sculpture, metal objects and wall-paintings, which were discovered in palaces, mansions, settlements, funerary monuments, sanctuaries and caves. 
 
After the completion of the new exhibition project in April 2014, the exhibition occupies a total of twenty seven rooms. Several important themes, such as Minoan wall-paintings are presented separately from the overall chronological sequence. The objects give a complete image of Cretan civilization, as it developed in different regions and important centres. Social, ideological and economic aspects form the core of the display, with a strong focus on religious and ceremonial practices, mortuary habits, bureaucratic administration and daily life. Explanatory texts, photographs, drawings and models of monuments supplement the exhibition.
 
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Neoria - Arsenals
Neoria - Arsenals 2541 hits

Shipyards (Arsenali)

The shipyards were large oblong buildings with barrel-vaulted roofs, capable of housing ships in need of protection or repair. They were also used for the construction of new vessels. Three separate shipyard complexes were built at different periods.

 

Crusaders Monastery
Crusaders Monastery 2536 hits
It is the Latin monastery of the Crusaders (Crosecchieri) which during the Turkish occupation was made into a mosque with the name of Angebout Pasha. It is of a basilica type with the middle aisle higher than the others. The aisles were connected to each other with two lines of columns that formed arches. The roof of the middle aisle was a two slope one and the other one of one slope.
http://www.heraklion.gr/
Agios Georgios Gate
Agios Georgios Gate 2513 hits

St. George gate is the gate that once connected the Venetian town of Chandaka to eastern Crete. The gate is located to the east of Eleftherias Square just below the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos.

 

According to an inscription, the gate is built in 1565. Its name comes from a relief decorative representation of St. George, which is today exhibited in the historical museum of the city. The gate was formerly known as Lazareto, because it led to the homonymous sanctuary, and later as Maroulas gate leading to the homonymous district.

A 43 meter-long gallery begins through the gate, which can be visited and usually hosts exhibitions, which ends at the east of Eleftherias Square.

Agios Titos
Agios Titos 2512 hits

The church of Saint Titus (First Bishop of Crete) is one of the most interesting religious monuments in the centre of the city. The Skull of the Apostle Saint Titus is kept at the church.

During the 2nd Byzantine period, the church, which was the most official and larger in Chandax, became the cathedral of the new Cretan Diocese. The Venetians later converted it into the Catholic Diosese. During the Ottoman rule, it was converted into a mosque (Vizier mosque) and the bell tower into a minaret. The church has suffered repeated destructions by earthquakes and fires. Nevertheless, conquerors of each period ensured its immediate restoration, since it was the city's most significant religious monument. In 1925 following the population exchange the church came within the juristiction of the Church of Crete.

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Koules venetian castle
Koules venetian castle 2490 hits

Castello del Molo (Koules)

The fortress dominating the entrance to the Venetian harbour has been variously referred to as the Castello del Molo, the Rocca a Mare and the Koules.

 The Fortress of Koules in Heraklion Crete: The Venetian Castle of Heraklion is called Koules, which means “fortress” in Turkish. It is an impressive fortress that surrounds the harbor of Heraklion, Crete. The Koules Castle is a massive fortress with two storeys that used to guard the entry to the port. The Castle was constructed by the Venetians in the early 13th century, when they conquered the town. The earliest description of the Koules Venetian Castle exists in the work of the Florentine monk Cristoforo Buondelmonti in 1429.The Fortress was primarily built for the storage of the food stuff and the military supplies. It also served as the quarter for the officers and as a prison. A devastating earthquake completely destroyed the Castle in 1303 and it was rebuilt by the Genoese. The fortress was again restored during 1523 – 1540 and got its ultimate form. During the Ottoman rule, the Castle was again transformed to a prison. Several Cretan heroes who revolted against the Ottomans had been imprisoned in the castle and had been killed in the dark dungeons.The architecture of the Castle is the typical Venetian architectural style. The construction was such that the walls of the Castle could protect the breakwater of the harbor. The Castle was made of stones. The ground floor has vaulted roof with broad fanlight. The walls were very thick and were divided into 26 apartments serving as the residence of the “Kastelanos”, the officer responsible for the well-being of the castle, as well as the dwellings of the captains and other officers.A part of the ground floor was also used as the storeroom. There were three carvings of the Lion of St. Mark in the Castle. The one at the sea side of the castle exists to these days. The upper floor and the basis of a minaret were added in the original construction by the Ottomans. Today the Koules Venetian Castle has been cleaned and restored many times. It is visited by thousands of people every year and constists the trademark of Heraklion town.

 

Recent Modifications

In the early 20th century Heraklion was the island's largest centre of commerce, and radical changes to the town plan were called for in response to the demands of a modern city.Public works involving the demolition of monuments in the harbour area were initiated by the government of the Independent Cretan State and completed after World War Two.

In the initial phase, the Shipyard Gate and the half bastion protecting it, the Harbour Gate and a sizeable section of the arsenali were knocked down to make room for the sea-front road and an extension to the harbour.

A cargo dock was then built on the site previously occupied by the small Koules. Finally, a modern port serving passenger ferries and cargo vessels was added to the east of the Venetian harbour.