The old town of Heraklion is particularly lively. This is where modernity meets history: in the times of the Minoans, the harbour that belonged to the famous palace complex of Knossos was located here. Heraklion has retained this great importance to this day. The city is the start and destination of many cruises and the economic centre of Crete. The old fortress walls, which were once intended to protect the Cretan capital from attack, still house impressive buildings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Surrounded on three sides by walls and one by the sea, the historic centre offers you everything you need for a successful holiday - and free from car noise. Because the streets of the old town are part of an extensive pedestrian zone that allows you to experience the unique magic of this place. Greek coffee specialities tempt you in the cafés along the old harbour basin. During the day, interesting exhibitions and markets await you along the alleys and squares lined with ancient buildings, where craftsmen and artists still maintain the island's old traditions. In the evening, you can end the day with a delicious meal in one of the restaurants typical of the region.
Heraklion was the port of the Minoan palace settlement of Knossos in Minoan times, around 3500 years ago. The Greeks then gave the city its present name a few centuries later. It is derived from the mythical hero Heracles (Hercules). In Venetian times, the city was called Candia and was the administrative seat of the Serenissima. Between 1851 and 1971 it had to cede its function as capital to Chania, but today it is once again clearly the administrative and economic centre of the island. Its port and airport are the most important on the island; many international cruise ships also moor here.
The old town of Heraklion is particularly worth seeing. As a day visitor, you don't have to leave the historic centre, which is surrounded on three sides by the medieval wall and on the fourth side by the sea, so you can easily explore everything worth seeing and experiencing on foot. For some years now, this has been very pleasant, as many previously busy streets have been turned into pedestrian zones. This means you can explore Heraklion without having to cross traffic frequently. You will find cafés and tavernas in large numbers, you will want for nothing. And you will certainly buy one or two souvenirs.
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