Crete : Sightseeing
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Archaeological Museum of Herakleion
The most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and completeness is housed in this museum. The exhibiton of the museum is organized in chronological order, ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman era (4th century A.D.) and geographically, according to the provenance of the finds.
Palace and Archaeological site
The famous Palace of king Minos and the centre of the Minoan civilisation 5km south of Iraklion. The Great Palace covered an area of 20.000 sq. meters and had 1.400 rooms. Every section of the Palace had a specific use. In the west side of the Palace were the chambers of the ceremonies, of the administration and of the public storehouse...
Historical Museum of Crete
The history and culture of Crete, from the first centuries of the Christian era to our present time. An exceptional museum featuring a collection of extremely precious objects, a must see for every visitor to Crete. The museum is housed in a two storey neoclassical building, which was constructed in 1903 on the site of an earlier mansion.
Iraklion Old Town
The "Morosini's fountain" or "Lions' fountain" that dominates the center of Eleftherios Venizelos square in Iraklion old town, is a landmark both for locals and visitors. A masterpiece of the Venetian era that would be the pride of any city in the world.
It was made in 1628 AD, under the supervision of the General Provisioner Francesco Morosini, to satisfy Candia's (Candia was the Venetian name of Crete and its capital - Iraklion - as well) needs for water. For this purpose an aqueduct was constructed to bring the water from the sacred mountain Giouhtas.
Heraklion old town
It is an essential public building in every Venetian city, which was not absent even from the colonies. For Candia, Loggia is considered to be one of the most elegant architectural monuments of the Venetian period, a representative sample of the palladian style. During the Venetian period, Loggia was the official meeting place of sovereigns and nobility where they discussed various topics that had to do with economic matters, commercial, and political ones.
Koules Venetian fortress (Castello del Molo )
Iraklion Venetian port
A seaside fortress situated at the entrance of the old harbour. It was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new Venetian fortification, in order to protect the pier and the port. It took its last shape in the years between 1523 - 1540 replacing another construction destroyed by an earthquake.
The fortified enclosure of the Venetian Chandakas of the 15th century, which is still preserved today, is one of the most significant monuments of its kind in the whole Mediterranean basin.
Triangular in shape, with its base at the sea, the mighty enceinte has a perimeter of about 5.5 kilometres. The hallmark of the defensive layout are the bastions, linked by curtain walls decorated at many points by escutcheons and the lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venetian omnipotence. The gates in the enceinte, which served to link the town to the countryside, still stand as important architectural monuments.
To this day, the walls that withstood the Ottoman siege in the mid-17th century mark out the boundary of the old town.
Natural History Museum of Crete
Iraklion, Dermatas Gate
The Natural History Museum of Crete is housed in the renovated former premises of the Heraklion Public Power Corporation, on Dermatas’ Bay. With an area of 3,500 m2, it is the largest exhibition of its kind in the Mediterranean, showcasing the natural environment of Crete and the wider Mediterranean area in an innovative, original way.
Agios Titos Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
With the recovery of Crete from Nikiforos Fokas, the seat of the bishopric is transferred from Gortyna to Chandakas, which became the capital of the island. The new cathedral, which is the most established and largest in the city, is dedicated to the Apostle Titos. Here, amongst other relics, there are gathered the Holy Skull of the Apostle and the miraculous icon of Messopapaditissas.
When the Venetians took over Crete, they installed in the orthodox bishop the Latin archbishop, converting by that the church of St. Titos into a Latin bishop. In the middle of the 15th century, the Latin archbishop, F. Dandolo is renovating the church. Other distractions, caused by earthquakes and fire, resulted to the rebuilding of the church from the start around 1557. The church was a basilica, almost square in shape, with a dome in the middle and a bell-tower in the southwest corner. The church from the inside was divided in three aisles with two series of columns. During the Turkish period, the church was given to Fazil Ahmet Kioprouli and it was changed into a mosque, while the bell - tower was transformed into a minaret. The big earthquake of 1856 destroyed the temple which is being, once more, rebuilt. After the exchange of populations, the Church of Crete repaired it accordingly, and in 1925 it was dedicated again to Apostle Titos. East of the church there was the building of the archdiocese.
Agios Minas Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
The Cathedral of St. Minas:The small church of St. Minas did not meet the religious needs of the constantly growing Christian community, so the demand arose for the erection of a new cathedral. The plot for the new church used to be a garden that belonged to a Turk from whom it was bought. The architect was Athanasios Moussis and in 1862 the foundation stone of one of the most magnificent and impressive Greek churches was laid. The outbreak of the Cretan revolution of 1866 demanded the stopping of the building work which will continue in 1883 in order to be completed in 1895, when the inauguration of the exquisite temple took place. The church is of the cruciform type with a dome based on a high spandrel, while internally there are also elements of a three aisle basilica. It has two bell towers, one in the northeastern corner and the other in the southeastern one. The right aisle is dedicated to Apostle Titos and the left one to St. Ten Martyrs of Crete. The inside of the church has gone through many changes with new additions. With plans of the architect Anastasios Orlandos the woodcut icon screen was replaced by another one made of marble, the same happened with the bishop's seat. The religious painting of the church was assigned to St. Kartakis who followed faithfully the principles and the models of the Byzantine icon painting. The hundredth anniversary from the inauguration of the Cathedral Church of St. Minas (1995) was celebrated with every solemnity that is suited in an equal occasion and more specifically to one of the most glorious and imposing Greek churches.
Saint Mark Basilica
Heraklion old town
The Basilica of Saint Mark is one of the most important Venetian buildings-monuments in Heraklion. Today it houses the city’s Municipal Art Gallery. The Venetians, wishing to consolidate their dominance over their new colony (Heraklion) and to express their gratitude and love for their mother country, built a church in the city’s centre dedicated to Saint Mark, patron saint of Venice. The Basilica managed to survive various earthquakes which afflicted Heraklion over the centuries with only minor repairs. During the Turkish rule it was converted into a mosque, the Defterdar Mosque, named after Defterdar Ahmet Pasha, the head of the financial department. The Ottomans demolished the bell-tower of the basilica and raised a minaret in its place, which in its turn was taken down by the residents of Heraklion after the liberation of the island in their attempt to erase the unpleasant reminders and symbols of the Turkish occupation.
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition of Byzantine Art and Ecclesiastical objects. A small sinaitic church of St. Catherine with a Basilica design, houses an exhibition with works of art from the Cretan renaissance. Among the exhibits are some of the most important icons of the Cretan School, ecclesiastical books and manuscripts, vestments, ecclesiastical vessels and relics, wall-paintings, wood-carvings and sculpture.
Phourni Archaeological Site
Excavations at Phourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until 1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase. Most of the funerary buildings were used for many decades and contain successive burials. Excavations were begun in 1964 by Efi and John Sakellarakis and have been continued until today (1995) with short interruptions. Most of the buildings are preserved in good condition.
Minoan Megaron at Vathypetro
The Minoan villa at Vathypetro was most likely the residence of a local ruler. Its architecture is comparable to that of a "Little Palace": it has a central and west court, a small tripartite shrine, a three-columned portico, storerooms and workshops. It seems that the construction of the building was never completed. Interesting elements of its architecture are the installations of a wine-press in the south wing and an oil-press in the courtyard.
Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul
Iraklion Old Town
It is situated approximately in the middle of the seaside wall. It was built from the first years of the venetian domination and belonged to the monastic order of Dominicans (Domenicani Predicatori). It was one of the most important and biggest Catholic monasteries of the city. The earthquake of 1508 caused a lot of damages to the temple. It consists of a long aisle which is roofed by a two slope roof and ends at a sanctuary roofed by two vaults. To the north and south wall of the temple there are windows of different types that were opened either during the Turkish period, or even earlier.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum is dedicated to the great Greek writer, poet and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis. It was founded in 1983 and it is located at the village Myrtia in Iraklion, next to his father's house.
The museum contains some of his personal belongings (pipes, glasses, pens, etc.) and a rich collection of his manuscripts and letters, first Greek editions of his books, documents from theatrical productions of his works, copies of TV series and movies based on his novels, portraits of Nikos Kazantzakis, copies of press releases and articles on his life and work.
Martinego Bastion - Kazantzakis tomb
The bastion heart shaped in plan with an acute angle, has two "piazza bassa" and one cavalier. It defines the southeast and the highest part of the fortification. Its name is due to Gabriele Tadini Martinego (1520) who started the construction of a circular tower at the place of the later bastion. It was one of the strongest bastions (the others were that of Pantocratora and that of Vittouri) which also suffered the main attack and most of the bombardment from the Turks.
On the top of the bastion itself there was made a cavalier (which looks like a smaller bastion), whose main purpose was the better defense and control of the area around the bastion.
The grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan writer, is situated on the highest point of the Venetian fortification at the Martinego cavalier. The inscription by the wooden cross reads: " I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free ", a phrase taken from "The Odyssey" which Kazantzakis considered as one of his most significant works.
The playgrounds of the Academy of the local football team "Ergotelis" are located today on the main bastion and in the ditch around the bastion are the botanical gardens of the city.
Agios Georgios Gate
Iraklion Old Town
The Gate of Agios Geórgios (GR: Πύλη Αγίου Γεωργίου - Saint George also called the Gate of Maroula or Lazaretto) was one of the central gates of Chandax during the Venetian period. Today it connects Eleftherias Square with Ikarou Avenue and at the same time is used as an exhibition venue.
The gate used to lead towards the eastern provinces of the city, the Maroula suburb and the Lazaretto. Designed by Giulio Savorgnan and dedicated to St. George, the monumental city side facade featured a relief medallion of the warrior saint on horseback, set directly above the finely carved stones that formed the main portal. This monumental facade was demolished in 1917 for the opening of today’s Democratias Avenue. Of the gate today, its entrance towards Ikarou Avenue is preserved, the internal domed hall and part of its climbing arcade which have been restored by the Municipality of Heraklion.
Archanes Archaeological collection
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes opened in 1993. It occupies an area of 570 square meters and it is located at the Tzami quarter in the center of the settlement. There, for the first time in Crete, the archaeological finds from a single site are exhibited. While the exterior spaces of the building were adapted to a tasteful ensemble, in resemblance with the impressive modesty of the environment and the traditional ochre and rosy colour tonations of Archanes. The interior was thus arranged as to accommodate the most modern mode of exhibition, especially attractive for the visitor.
It was made by "capitano" Gianmatteo Bembo between 1552-1554, it dominates in today's Kornarou square, next to a later Turkish philanthropic fountain. It is decorated with coats of arms and other elements of the renaissance and of gothic type, while in the middle a big headless statue stands out of the roman period. The spring is ornated with floral and embossed elements.
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