The 14 best sights of Heraklion – descriptions and photos

14 sights of Heraklion worth seeing


Heraklion is one of the largest cities in Greece. Numerous monuments of ancient architecture, interesting museums, marvelous natural beauty of the surrounding nature, rich nightlife of the city – this is not a complete list of attractions of Heraklion, the capital of Crete.

No wonder that the city attracts so many tourists – both locals and foreigners – at any time of the year. What is worth seeing in Heraklion for tourists coming to Crete?

Koules Fortress

Koules Fortress

Koules Fortress | Photo: wikimedia.

In August 2016, after six years of restoration, the fortress called Rocca al Mare, built by the Venetians in the 16th century and a symbol of the city, reopened. In the exhibition halls a completely new exposition was presented, which tells not only about the history of the fortress, but also about significant milestones in the history of the city.

Among the exhibits are ancient amphorae, Venetian cannons, as well as finds from the shipwrecks around the island of Dia – they were discovered by Jacques Cousteau during an expedition in 1976. A special atmosphere creates a subdued light, passing through the muzzles of antique cannons.

Address: Koules Fortress, Heraklion 712 02, Greece.

Castle walls of the city.

The city walls

Castle walls of the city. | Photo: wikimedia.

Modern Heraklion has long grown from the ancient city walls built by the Venetians in the period from 1462 to 1562. However, this massive defensive structure with seven bastions and four gates still grabs the eye, overshadowing the surrounding concrete structures of the 20th century.

Address: Venetian City Wall, Λεωφ. Πλαστήρα 25, Ηράκλειο 712 01.

Knossos Palace

The Palace of Knossos

The palace of Knossos.| Photo: Neil Howard / Flickr.

The palace of Knossos, which has been perfectly preserved, is the most famous monument of the Minoan civilization and one of the main attractions of Heraklion. It is located five kilometers southeast of the city. The layout of the monumental palace is extremely confusing and resembles a labyrinth – a complex of buildings arranged around a spacious central courtyard.

That is why the Knossos Palace is often associated with the legendary Minotaur’s Labyrinth. The palace included ceremonial rooms, living areas, storage rooms, a complex drainage system and was also characterized by intricate decoration.

Excavations have proved that the site was a palace as early as the 2nd millennium BC, but the structure as we see today dates mainly from 1450 BC. Many of the frescoes of the palace are copies – the originals are in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Address: The Palace of Knossos, Φειδίου 8, Iraklio 714 09, Greece.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

Museum of Archeology of Crete

Museum of Archaeology of Crete.| Photo: Carole Raddato / Flickr.

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is considered one of the largest and most important museums in all of Greece. The two-story reconstructed building in the Bauhaus style – a modernist architectural trend of the 1930s – is an excellent venue for displaying artifacts.

The museum exhibition covers a vast historical period of 5,500 years – from the Neolithic to Roman times. Of particular interest is the rich collection of monuments of the Minoan civilization. The exhibition halls differ in color, and the collections are presented both chronologically and thematically.

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Address: Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Heraklion, Greece.

Aquarium of Crete

Aquarium of Crete

Aquarium of Crete.

This huge aquarium occupies the grounds of a former U.S. military base. It is home to about 2,000 species of marine life of the Mediterranean. The indoor marine park, equipped with the latest technology, is a great place to stay, especially with children.

You will have the opportunity to watch the dance of jellyfish, the lightning-fast movement of sharks, stingrays soaring in the water, swinging corals and glowing clownfish. Interactive multimedia allows you to learn more about the life of the mysterious and diverse underwater world.

Address: Cret Aquarium, Heraklion 710 03, Greece

Historical Museum of Crete

Museum of History of Crete

History Museum of Crete | Photo: wikimedia

This small Greek island has a complicated but surprisingly interesting history. The museum exhibition covers a period of 1700 years, from the time of early Christianity to the modern era. You can see religious artifacts, stone carvings, ceramics, textiles and folk costumes from the Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish periods.

A special hall is dedicated to the Resistance movement of Crete and to the heroes who died during the Second World War.

Address: Historical Museum of Crete, House A. & M. Kalokerinos, Leof. Sofokli Venizelou 27, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

Fountain of Morozini

Morozini Fountain

Morozini Fountain | Photo: wikimedia.

It is one of the most beloved places of the citizens, reminiscent of the distant Venetian period of the island’s history.

Built in 1628 in honor of Francesco Mosorini, the Governor of Crete, this fountain used to be the source of fresh water in Heraklion. Nowadays, the fountain is surrounded by numerous cafeterias and fast food places, where you can eat and relax while watching the noisy crowd of passers-by.

Address: Morosini Fountain, Pl. El. Venizelou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

St. Titus Cathedral

Saint Titus Cathedral

St. Titus Cathedral | Photo: wikimedia

This majestic cathedral is located on the square of the same name, decorated with tall, sprawling palm trees. It was built in 961 during the Byzantine Empire. During the Venetians there was a Catholic cathedral, and during the Ottoman rule the building was converted into a mosque, where the bell tower was used as a minaret.

Since 1925 the structure is a consecrated Orthodox church. The most revered relic of the cathedral are the relics of St. Titus returned here in 1966 from Venice, where they had been secretly taken for safekeeping during the Turkish occupation.

Address: Church of Agios Titos, Pl. Agiou Titou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

Lasting Tours:

Saint Minas Cathedral

Saint Minas Cathedral

Saint Minas Cathedral | Photo: wikimedia.

One of the largest temples in Greece, seating up to 8,000 people. The construction of the cathedral lasted at intervals for 33 years – from 1862 to 1895. The temple was built in honor of the patron saint of Heraklion – St. Mina. The interior design of the cathedral is particularly impressive: the wall frescoes; the composition of the three huge chandeliers hanging above the central aisle and the white marble iconostasis (the partition separating the altar from the main aisle).

Address: Agios Minas Cathedral, Heraklion 712 01, Greece.

Bembo Fountain

Bembo Fountain

Bembo Fountain.| Photo: wikimedia.

The oldest surviving fountain of Heraklion was created in 1550. The fountain of Bembo, made of pieces of ancient marble, is decorated with Venetian coats of arms and a headless statue of a Roman official found near the city of Ierapetra.

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The fountain was once a source of fresh drinking water, which flowed through an aqueduct laid 13 km south of Mt. Juhtas.

An adjacent hexagonal structure was originally built by the Turks and served as a water pumping station. There is now a traditional Greek coffee house (kafeneio).

Address: Bembo Fountain, Pl. Kornarou 2, Iraklio 712 01, Greece.

The Venetian Loggia

Venetian Loggia

Venetian Loggia | Photo: Tony Fernandez / Flickr.

The attractive, elegant structure, restored in the 17th century at the initiative of Francesco Morosini, was something of a noble club. The important people of the city used to like to meet here not only for the solution of state issues, but also as a place for relaxation and entertainment.

Address: Venetian Loggia, August Str. 25, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts.

Heraklion Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the triple-nave basilica of St. Mark, built by the Venetians in the 13th century. The building has been reconstructed many times and during the Turkish domination it was used as a mosque.

In the exhibition hall of the museum there is a collection of Byzantine wall paintings of XIII-XIV centuries. In addition, the museum provides space for all kinds of seasonal exhibitions.

Address: Municipal Art Gallery, Pl. Kallergon 100, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

Church Art Museum

Museum of Ecclesiastical Art

Church Art Museum.

This small but fascinating museum is housed in an ancient 13th-century monastery. The collection of the museum includes works of religious art collected from various monasteries around Crete – icons, paintings, manuscripts, woodwork and stone carvings.

The pride of the museum collection is the work of the famous 15th century iconographer Angelos Akotantos and six icons of Michael Damascene, a renowned representative of the Cretan iconographic school of the post-Byzantine period.

Address: Christian Art Museum, Karterou, Iraklio 712 01, Greece.

Natural History Museum of Crete

Natural History Museum of Crete

Natural History Museum of Crete.

The museum is a 10-minute walk west of August 25th Street. Huge dioramas and a large area of aquariums and terrariums acquaint visitors with the rich flora and fauna not only of Crete but of the whole Mediterranean.

Some of the most interesting exhibits are: the life-size giant Deuterotherium (7 meters long and 5 meters high) – an elephant-like representative of an extinct genus of ancient mammals; and a 3-D earthquake simulator.

Address: Natural History Museum, Leof. Sofokli Venizelou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece.

Attractions in Heraklion

The palace of Knossos St. Mark’s Basilica The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion The History Museum of Crete The Saint Minas Cathedral The market in Heraklion The port of Heraklion

This site contains Heraklion sights – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you will find answers to questions: what to see in Heraklion, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Heraklion.

Knossos Palace

Knossos Palace (photo)

The palace of Knossos can be compared to the age of the pyramids of Egypt or the English Stonehenge. Its construction began in the second century B.C. and lasted for more than a millennium. The area of the palace is about 20 thousand square meters and consists of a complex system of hundreds of rooms, which seemed to the ancient Greeks very confusing.

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There are many legends associated with the palace of Knossos. The most famous one is about Theseus and Minotaur. It was in the labyrinths of the palace ancient king Minos imprisoned half-bull-half-man, who every seven years took a tribute from the Athenians – 7 girls and 7 boys. Thanks to the thread of Ariadne, Minos’ daughter, Theseus managed to kill the Minotaur and escape from the island with his assistant.

Now you can wander through the intricate galleries and halls of the palace and admire the frescoes of Cretan artists of the time, dedicated to religious processions, scenes of games, flowers and birds, fantastic griffins.

Of particular architectural interest are the columns, whose shape is narrower to the bottom and not wider as it used to be in the buildings of ancient peoples.

Coordinates : 35.29873500,25.16364400

St. Mark’s Cathedral

Saint Mark's Cathedral (photo)

St. Mark’s Cathedral is an ancient Catholic temple building, now used as an Art Museum. The former cathedral is located in the historic center of Heraklion, on the island of Crete.

St. Mark’s Cathedral was built in 1239 after the conquest of Heraklion by the Venetians. During the Venetian rule the church was the chief cathedral of Crete and from its staircase the edicts of the dukes were announced and the various decrees were pronounced. However, in 1303 the cathedral was completely destroyed by an earthquake and was not rebuilt until one hundred years later. During the Muslim domination St. Mark’s Cathedral was turned into a mosque and the Turks added a minaret to its architectural ensemble. It was not until 1956 that the church was restored to its original appearance.

Today, St. Mark’s Cathedral does not belong to the Catholic Church, but it retains its former name. Nowadays this majestic building houses the Museum of Art, which exhibits samples of the Byzantine medieval painting.

St. Mark’s Cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks of Heraklion and Crete. Its walls and columns are literally imbued with the spirit of antiquity, which attracts the main mass of tourists.

Coordinates: 35.33919200,25.13370100

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Museum of Man

Museum of Man (photo)

The Museum of Man is probably the most fun museum that tells the story of humanity, from the amusing display of a Stone Age dwelling to the huge “satellite dish” with photographs of Neil Armstrong.

The museum is more of a theme park, walking around you can see a funny sculpture of the caveman dog, you can sit on his throne, you can admire the homemade monuments to Yuri Gagarin and Laika. Some of the exhibits have humorous plaques, which sometimes cause bursts of laughter from museum visitors.

Museum of Man is a great place for active recreation.

Coordinates: 35.08395600,25.71308900

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Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion (photo)

The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is dedicated to Minoan art. It is one of the largest museums in Greece and is recognized worldwide as the best exhibit on the subject. The Heraklion Gallery contains exhibits representing the Minoan civilization of Crete.

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The museum began its existence in 1883, when the first small collection of artifacts was assembled. The exhibition was moved to a separate building which was constructed in 1904-1912 through the efforts of the Greek archaeologists Yozif Hadzidakis and Stephanos Xanthoudis.

After the gallery was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1856, in 1937 the already reconstructed and rebuilt building was redesigned to make it more seismic resistant.

Nowadays, the Archaeological Museum has twenty rooms with exhibits from all over Crete. New and interesting items are brought directly from the excavations.

Coordinates: 35.33944400,25.13722200

Historical Museum of Crete

Historical Museum of Crete (photo)

The Historical Museum of Crete is located in Heraklion, Greece, and is dedicated to the history of the island.

Do you think – is there a time machine? An adult would definitely say no. A child would wonder about the question. However, I assure you that you can instantly find yourself in the past, let’s say in the Middle Ages or the times of the well-known Byzantines Cyril and Methodius.

Moreover, the Historical Museum of Crete in Greece is better than any time machine to send you to the bright and productive past where you can see with your own eyes the city of the XVII century.

It’s hard to explore in detail all the exhibits, paintings, and collections of this museum at once. After all, it took decades to collect them and along with the increase in the rarest objects of the eras, the facade of the museum itself has increased, where it was necessary to add a new wing to the main building.

Thus, on a common area there are archaeological finds: coins, chronicles, icons, weapons, stamps, ethnographic items of everyday life and culture from the early Christian times to the present day. You will start your journey through time with the most popular exhibit, the model of Heraklion from the middle of the 17th century (4×4 meters scale), when Venetianism was prevalent.

You will also see the pride of the museum – two paintings of the famous artist El Greco: View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery of Saint Catherine (1570) and The Baptism of Christ (1567). One can stand for hours and enjoy the works of the great master but it is worth visiting all the halls of the museum and see the collections from later times as well, such as those depicting life in Crete during the revolutionary events of the 19th century and the Second World War.

Do not forget to leave a coin at the exit to come back to the Museum again.

Coordinates: 35.34247000,25.13113600

St. Mina Cathedral

St. Mina Cathedral (photo)

The Cathedral of St. Mina in Heraklion is one of the largest cathedrals in Greece. The original temple was built in 1735 and survives to this day (it is located to the left of the main entrance).

The story of the origins of the majestic cathedral takes us back to 1826 when a mob of Muslim Turks who ruled the island headed for the church to break it up but an officer suddenly appeared to disperse the crowd of conspirators. The Greeks who witnessed this scene regarded it as a miraculous intervention of St. Mina. Soon after these events the saint was declared the patron saint of the city, worshipped by Christians and Muslims alike.

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March 25, 1862 began construction of a large three-nave cathedral, which lasted for 33 years. Before construction began, coins from various countries were placed in the foundation of the temple, under the future altar. The walls and vaults are made in the traditional Greco-Byzantine style and painted with magnificent Byzantine frescoes. The cathedral was dedicated to St. Minas and consecrated in 1895. Surprisingly, despite the Turkish occupation, the celebrations for the consecration of the cathedral did not stop for three days.

One of the last miracles, perceived by the faithful as the patronage of St. Mina is considered the saving of the temple from an air raid and bombing in May 1941. On that day a bomb fell on the dome of the cathedral, but it did not explode.

The coordinates are: 35.33630800,25.12031900

Heraklion Market

Heraklion Market (photo)

The Heraklion Market is a popular tourist attraction visited by locals and tourists alike. The central market is located on the street of 1866.

In the past, this market was an integral part of life of every resident, who could not imagine their life without shopping, which could be purchased at the market at a profit. Even today the market has not lost its former importance, because here you can buy almost anything at an affordable price.

At the market you can buy everything you want: fresh fruits and vegetables, shoes, clothing, local and imported goods, antiques, meat, cheese and other goods cheaper than in the neighboring stores. There are even cafes and taverns at the market.

Coordinates: 35.33779200,25.13335500

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Port of Heraklion

Port of Heraklion (photo)

Heraklion is the capital and the so called gateway of Crete, the main city and the largest port of the island. It is the marina of Heraklion that welcomes tourists from all over the world. It’s the most important transport hub of Europe, connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.

The city has historically sprouted from an ancient harbor that was the center of the Minoan civilization. Today Heraklion is the fifth largest city of Greece, a huge metropolis with its own airport, seaport, major museums and major universities.

The port plays a huge role for the city and for all Greece. It is the most important cargo and tourist transportation hub, which daily receives hundreds of ships and vessels. Here moored hundreds of snow-white yachts and small sailing vessels, many fishing boats and small boats, which every morning unload their catches. And at the background of all this frozen huge tourist liners.

Coordinates: 40.77933900,24.70549800

The most popular attractions in Heraklion with descriptions and photos for every taste. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Heraklion on our website.

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