Prefecture of Iraklio

Prefecture of Iraklio

 Heraklion, the largest town on the island, has a variety of nightlife and sightseeing to offer. In the prefecture of Heraklion are three of the most important Minoan centers – Knossos, Phaestos and Malia.
With full of tropical beaches, traditional villages, everyone with a different history, a huge variety of gorgeous landscapes, remains from ancient civilizations, you've got people here writing history for the last five thousand years. N. Kazantzakis was inspired and wrote his famous book " Zorba the Greek" in Crete. The town is linked by air to Athens and Thessaloniki. In the summer months there are frequent flights to Santorini, Paros, Mykonos & Cyprus. There are also charter flights which link it to many European cities.
The town is linked by sea to the port of Piraeus, to several of the Islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, to Cyprus, Italy and Israel. Local and regional buses run between the town and a variety of destionations both within the province and beyond.

 History: The town is built on the site of the small harbour which was the seaport of Knossos. This small harbour much later became an important fortified town under the Arabs, who held it for a period of over one hundred years (824-961 AD). Thy build strong walls to protect it and surrounded it with a deep moat (from which it got its name "Chandax" from the Arabic word 'Khandak' meaning moat.




 The archaeological site of Knossos is at a distance of 5 km southeast of Heraclion, near the small village of the same name, on a hill. A local bus (No2) runs very regularly between Heraclion and Knossos and all the tourist agencies organise visits and guided tours to the site.
The name Knossos is mentioned in the Minoan tablets in Linear B. It is by that name that it is mentioned by Homer, who speaks of Knossos as a big city.
Strabos also considers Knossos and Gortyna the greatest and more powerful cities on Crete. Its perimeter was said to have measured 30 stadia (stadium: a unit of length equal to 606.95 English feet) and its population at the time of its peak was 100,000 inhabitants.



 Second in importance only to Knossos from the archaeological point of view is Phaestos.
It lies 62.5 km southwest of Iraklio. It is build on a hill (at an altitude of 100m above sea level), south of the Lythaeon river, and commands the fertile plain of Kato Messara, which is surrounded by impressive mountains (Psiloritis, Asterousia). Phaestos owing to its importance, is mentioned in the texts of ancient writers (Diodorus, Strabo, Pausanias), but also by Homer. According to mythology, the dynasty which ruled Phaestos, was that of Rhadamantus, son of Zeus and brother of Minos.