The Main Cities of Crete island
Heraklion is the biggest city on Crete (and fifth in Greece) with a population in excess of 150.000. It concentrates most of the economical activity of the island, and is the main port of entry to Crete for the majority of visitors. History is very much alive in Heraklion just like in most Greek cities. The central square while surrounded by cafes, stores and restaurants, is dominated by the fountain of the Lions, built by Morozini the venetian governor in 1628. All around the old part of the city, a visitor can walk following the old Venetian walls that meet at a bastion, called "Koules", that dominates the old harbour of the city .Heraklion should definitely visit the archaeological site at Knossos and the Archaeological Museum that houses most of the Minoan findings on Crete. Special attention should also be paid to the Historical Museum that houses findings from the early Christian era to this day and the Museum of Natural History.
The most poetic city of Crete when you walk through it leaves you with a pleasant taste of beauty. Built on the ruins of ancient Kidonia it has seen and survived many invaders, but has also tasted civilizations that left their marks on building faces, castles, walls, antiquities, monasteries and churches.The city has two entrances: the airport of Akrotiri, and the port of Souda (the largest in the Mediterranean). The public market holds a master place in the center of the city, a brilliant cross-shaped building that was completed in 1913, and in proportion with the one in Marseilles. Near the city center the Public Garden awaits you next to the "Peace and Friendship of the people" park. The gardens are the prettiest in Crete, and also the public garden offers a small zoo with animals from Cretan fauna. The Venetian port picturesque any time and season is attractive to visitors and locals, for it's beauty and for it's choices of entertainment for all tastes and demands. The old city "intramural" districts preserve their Venetian nobility. Narrow paved alleys are surrounded with tasteful renewed houses, from various ages, are offered for a pleasant walk. Many neoclassic houses are also saved in districts which "neighbor" with the city of Chania, like Halepa.
Although the third largest town in Crete. RETHIMNON never feels like a city. as Hania or Iraklion do. Instead, it has an air of the provincial: a place that moves slowly and. for all the myriad bars springing up along the seafronf preserves much of its Venetian appearance. Arriving, especially if you approach from the east in the evening, it looks exactly as it does in old engravings or in Edward Lear's watercolours - dominated by the bulk of a Venetian fortress, the skyline picked out with the delicate spires of minarets.All of this is increasingly under commercial threat, but for the time being it's an enjoyable place to spend some time, with a wide, sandy beach and palm- fringed promenade right in front of the tangled streets of the old town. There are hundreds of tavernas, bars, cafes and discos, but the big hotels are all out of town, stretching for miles along the shore to the east Staying in town, away from the front you'll find things relatively quiet at night though noisily animated during the day.
Aghios Nikolaos, with over forty years of experience in the tourism industry, is an international and cosmopolitan resort that welcomes thousands of visitors annually.
The lake is its most charming feature. Legend suggests that Athena and Armetis bathed in its waters. This lake is connected to the sea by a straight channel, while its natural surroundings of red rock and trees attract the visitor magnetically.
At a small open-air theatre by the lake, locals and visitors alike can enjoy interesting artistic and cultural presentations. A walk around the shops of Aghios Nikolaos is an enjoyable experience. In the many stores the visitor can find a wide selection of traditional Cretan artwork, copies of pieces from different archaeological museums, jewelry, and embroidery. There are also many examples of woven goods and Byzantine icons. There are bustling cafeterias, charming coffeehouses and taverns serving traditional Cretan “mesedes” or tidbits of local food.You can find innumerable opportunities for night-time entertainment at a variety of bars and discos. Visit the outdoor summer cinema ”Christina” where the surrounding walls are covered by honeysuckle, or find other places of entertainment where genuine Cretan feasts are always accompanied by local wine or strong raki.
A high quality and range of athletic facilities provides professional athletes and sports fans, and local and visiting amateur athletes with the opportunity to get involved in any sports. There is a football pitch, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, beach volley facilities, mini-golf and swimming pools, all providing the opportunity for exercise and fun.
The town of Sitia is widely believed to have taken its name from the ancient Hellenistic settlement of Itia, Itida or Sitea, hometown of Misona (one of the seven renowned ancient philosophers) and of Vitzenzos Kornaros, the poet who wrote Erotokritos. Others reject this theory and are still searching for the ancient town of Sitia wherever there are the ruins of Minoan settlements. It is certain however that the ruins of a Byzantine settlement can be found beneath present day Sitia. The town had a turbulent history up to 1651 in which year the Venetians razed the buildings left standing after the great earthquake of 1508 and the subsequent raid in 1538 by the infamous Barbarossa. It was rebuilt on the site of the ruins in1870 and called Avnie, a name which was rejected by the townspeople who preferred the name Sitia, thus maintaining their links with the past. Upon the arrival of the Byzantines it became an important commercial port and remained so up to and throughout the early Venetian era. The Venetians described Sitia as "the radiant focal point of the island" (maximum statum et lumen insulae) and refer to it in Regno di Candia as a major commercial hub for the East and Africa. The Venetians stamped their authority by building many fortresses in areas of strategic importance, most of which can still be seen by today's visitors.
Main Cultural Attractions
The Minoan Palace of Knossos
The most important archaeological and historical site of the island. The residence of King Minos, Knossos is not simply foundations, but a three story Palace complex of rooms, halls and passages dating from 2.500 BC and the centre of the Minoan civilisation. This is the labyrinth where Theseus slew the Minotaur, and where history and legend go hand in hand. Duration of the guided visit approximately 1-1½ hours.
The Minoan Festos & the Hippies’ village of Matala
Through vine yards is our trip to the plain of Messara. Our first stop will be the archaeological site of Festos the second in size Minoan palace of Crete, lying opposite Ida mountain. At the beach of Matala that hippies first discovered, we stop for swimming. On the way back we visit the ruins of the Greco Roman city of Gortys.
The Cosmopolitan city of Ag. Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos, with over forty years of experience in the tourism industry, is an international and cosmopolitan resort that welcomes thousands of visitors annually. The lake is its most charming feature. Legend suggests that Athena and Armetis bathed in its waters. This lake is connected to the sea by a straight channel, while its natural surroundings of red rock and trees attract the visitor magnetically. At a small open-air theatre by the lake, locals and visitors alike can enjoy interesting artistic and cultural presentations. A walk around the shops of Agios Nikolaos is an enjoyable experience.
The traditional village of Kritsa
Kritsa is one of the most picturesque towns in Crete, built amphitheatrically on a rock hill. It is located 11 km from Agios Nikolaos and has 2000 inhabitants. In Kritsa, people keep the old Cretan customs and traditions. The town is considered one of the most important centres of the Cretan folk and weaving art. The area near the village of Kritsa has many attractions to offer. It combines a traditional village setting with several Byzantine churches which rank among the best in the island.
The most famous island on Crete, this rock stronghold and fortress is located on the north-west entrance of the Bay of Elounda. Embarkation at Elounda - A 20 minute’s boat trip will bring you to Spinalonga, a small island with an exceptional interesting history. The Venetian Fortress, which still stands, was built in 1579 and it protected the entire gulf. After the Turks left, the island became synonymous with human pain. In 1903, Spinalonga developed into a gathering place for lepers from all over Crete. After Spinalonga.