Saturday, May 26, 2007

Heraklion Sights & Attractions

Travel to Greece. Travel to Crete. Travel to Heraklion. The Prefecture of Heraklion, Crete is world-famous for its exquisite archaeological and historical sights. It was the center of the great Minoan civilization, which was very advance for its time, having developed multi-level buildings, intricate sewage and plumbing systems, and ventilation networks.

The finest Minoan site is the Knossos Palace, built between 1700 and 1300 BC. The Palace of Knossos contains approximately 1300 rooms, including a main court, a throne room, royal quarters, the queen's manor, a sanctuary, storerooms, a theater and the famous bathtub of Knossos, where the queen took her baths. Other impressive features of the Knossos Palace are the splendid, colorful frescos.

Apart from the Royal Palace of Knossos, there are the magnificent Minoan Palaces of Malia and Phaistos (Phaestos), where the spectacular clay Phaistos Disk was found. Other wonderful Minoan sites include the settlements of Amnissos, Tylissos, Gortyna, Lyttos and Levina, as well as the ancient town, sanctuary, graveyard and summer palace in Archanes.

There are also a number of impressive religious sights that are worth a visit, such as the Church of Agios Titos, the patron saint of the island, the Church of Agios Markos and the Cathedral of Agios Minas in Heraklion Town. The Sabbatian Monastery in Agia Pelagia is located in a lovely natural setting, while the Agaranthou Monastery in Peza is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete.

The island of Crete has a distinct Venetian aura, and the Prefecture of Heraklion is no exception. Throughout the region there are many Venetian castles and fortresses. The most well-known are the Venetian Town Walls, the Venetia Port and the Morozini Fountain in Heraklion Town. If you are a museum buff, we recommend visiting the Archaeological, Ecclesiastical and Historical Museums in Heraklion Town, the Lychnostatis Museum in Hersonissos, the Archaeological Museum in Archanes and the museum of Dominikos Theotokopoulos - otherwise known as El Greco- in Fodele, the painter's home town.

Lastly, nature aficionados will have a superb time in the Heraklion prefecture, trekking on Mt. Youchtas, hiking through the Viannos-Amira Gorge and walking along the idyllic path from Agia Kyriaki Church to the Kali Limenes Beach.

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