The Archaeological Museum of Aghios Nikolaos is one of the most important in Crete and has been in operation since 1969. It houses collections of very important archaeological finds from the whole of Eastern Crete, an area extending from Malia as far as Zakros. These are displayed in chronological order from the Neolithic period (5700 - 2800 B.C.) to the end of the Roman times (100 B.C. - 400 A.D.) Its showcases include more than 1350 vases from the 3rd millennium B.C. as well as gold and copper finds (the most ancient found in Crete).
The disc of Phaistos is the most important example of hieroglyphic inscription from Crete and was discovered around 1903-05 in a small room near the depositories of the "archive chamber", in the north - east apartments of the palace, together with a Linear A tablet and pottery dated to the beginning of the Neo-palatial period (1700- 1600 B.C.). The disc of Phaistos can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
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.
It is an historical monastery of the 15th century, which collapsed in the earthquake of 1612 and was rebuilt with the financial aid of the Venetians. During the Ottoman conquest of Crete, the monastery was destroyed and devastated by the Turks. In 1704 the monastery was declared stauropegion. During the Ottoman occupation there was a school in the monastery, while, after 1870, it was founded there a school of mutual teaching. The Monastery is a stauropegion fortress. The main building of 800 m2 has three floors, which are divided into cells, guest - houses, kitchens, the abbot' s residence and warehouses. The katholicon is a two-aisled church; the northern aisle is dedicated to the Virgin, and the southern posterior aisle, to St John the Theologian. The monastery' s characteristic bell tower bears relief crowns and crosses with inscriptions and the date 1558. In the Monastery, there is also an interesting Museum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Fortezza castle, at the top of a low hill named "Palaiokastro" dominates the town. It was built in 1590 to protect the city from the pirates raids and the Turks. The name "Palaiokastro which means 'The old Castle' was in use even by the Venetians which demonstrates the existance of an even older castle at this place. - Probably the acropolis of the ancient town of Rithymna. The interior of Fortezza accommodated the following basic buildings: the storeroom of the artillery, where canons and weapons were kept, the residence of the Councilors, where one of the city's two Venetian councilors lived, the residence of the Rector, which represented a luxurious, magnificent building in the central square of the fortress. Today parts of those buildings, as well as of some others built later, can be seen. The view from up there is magnificent, especially at night. The municipal theatre "Erofili" stands also at Fortezza's premises. It is an outdoor theatre that hosts almost all the performances during the Renaissance Festival.
The houses of Tylissos were built during the LM I period (16th-15th century B.C.). Additions were made on House A in the LM II (15th-14th century B.C.) and on House C during the LM III period (14th century B.C.). The site was destroyed by fire in the 14th century B.C. and re - inhabited in historic times as is attested by ruins of later houses over the Minoan ones. Tylissos was excavated by Joseph Chatzidakis in 1902-1913. In 1954, in the course of restorations, parts of a paved court were revealed to the west, and a small stoa with five columns to the north of the Square of the Altar. The monuments were restored by the Archaeological Service (under the direction of Nicolaos Platon) in the period between 1954 and 1962. All three houses were again restored in 1990-1994. Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture