Heraklio Greece-Paradise for the hikers

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Heraklio

Heraklio
The largest and most densely populated region on the island of Crete is Heraklion (Iraklion). Nestling picturesquely among two imposing mountain ranges – Idi (Mt Psiloritis) to the west and Dikti (Lasithiotika mountains) to the east– Heraklion boasts exceptional archaeological treasures, significant coastal settlements, a series of picturesque villages, vast valleys with olive groves and vineyards as well as the best organised tourist infrastructure in Crete. A unique combination of urban scenery and natural wealth makes the region of Heraklion an appealing all-year-round destination.
Heraklio
Crete’s capital, the city of Heraklion presents a unique mixture of civilizations where Byzantine remnants stand side by side with Venetian constructions and Ottoman buildings. The city is also renowned for the medieval fortress of Koules overlooking the Venetian harbour and the Venetian walls that still surround a part of the city. At the southernmost bastion of the fortress, Martinengo Bastion, lies the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan author, whose epitaph reads: “I believe in nothing, I hope for nothing, I am free”.
Heraklio
Morosini Fountain, adorned with four lions, is one of the best known sights in the city. Built by the Venetian governor Francesco Morosini in the 17th century used to supply the fortified city with water. The reconstructed Loggia across the fountain housed the Venetian headquarters. Today it houses the Town Hall. Admire a plethora of old churches decorating the streets of the city, like Ayios Titos, San Marco Basilica and Ayia Ekaterini.
Heraklio
Stroll down the pedestrian streets of the old town with its hive cafes and restaurants and amble around its squares (Lion, Eleftheriou Venizelou and Kornarou squares) to soak up the city’s buzzing atmosphere!
Heraklio
Discover the natural wealth of Heraklion in its stunning gorges (Karteros, Almyros, Rouvas, Vorisiano, etc.), in the Ecologic-Archaeological Park of Mount Youchtas and in a number of caves (most of which are accessible to the public). Explore among others the cave of Ayia Paraskevi, which is said to be part of the Minoan Labyrinth or the cave of Faneromeni. Follow centuries-old footpaths that formed the road network of past times, and explore wonders of nature and the history of the region at the same time.
Heraklio
The most important hiking network of trails is E4, which crosses the region from Mount Psiloritis in the west to Mount Dikti in the east intersecting the most important mountain paths and habitats of the prefecture. Trail E4 from Akolyta to Zaros is quite easy and it takes about 6.5 hours walking. Another splendid trail to Zaros is the one starting from Analipsi springs on Nida plateau, and allows hikers to cross the unique Forest of Rouvas and discover the artificial Lake Votomos. It is a relatively easy path, about 20km long. An easy 18km trail starts from Ano Arhanes heading to Angarathou Monastery. In the traditional village of Myrtia you can find oil and wine presses, while at Astraki you can see the watermills and the springs that supply water to Heraklion.
Heraklio
One of the most beautiful hikes in the south starts from Sternes, crosses the Arch Passage and ends at Koudouma Monastery, in a small cove on the coast of the Libyan Sea. Hikers crossing the rough mass of Asteroussia Mountains could even encounter the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) of Crete.
Heraklio

Archaeological sites

A dense network of archaeological sites shows the region’s importance in the past, which was continuously inhabited since the Neolithic Era. Trace centuries of Cretan history and tradition at:
 Knossos

The archaeological site of Knossos, where one of the most glorious civilizations of humanity, the Minoan civilization, flourished. Situated among olive trees, vineyards and cypresses on the hill of Kefalas, the Palace of Knossos was not only the royal family’s residence but also the administrative and religious centre of the whole region. The Throne Room is situated in the west wing. The eastern wing incorporates the royal chambers, the double axes room, the Queen’s Suite with the celebrated dolphin fresco, the workshop areas – where the stone carver’s workshop holds an eminent position – and the storage rooms.

Heraklio Arhanes

In close proximity to Knossos, in the area of Arhanes, you can visit the palace complex at the district where the Turks lived, the cemetery at Fourni, the largest prehistoric cemetery in the Aegean Sea, the Minoan mansion with the famous wine press at Vathýpetros and the Sanctuary of Anemospilia.

 Lyttos

At Kastelli Pediados visit the ruins of Lýttos (or Lýctos), one of the most powerful cities of ancient Crete, which was a Spartan colony.

Heraklio Phaestos

The archaeological site of Phaestos (Festos), which was the second most important administrative, economic and religious centre in Minoan Crete after Knossos. The Minoan Palace was built around 1900 B.C. and extends over an area of 18,000m2 (the second largest after Knossos Palace).

Heraklio Ancient Gortyna

In the area of Messara pay a visit at the ancient Gortyna whose regime gained Plato’s admiration. It is not only the archaeological site but also the old churches that attract visitors’ interest.

Heraklio The Palace of Malia

Wander among the remains of the Palace of Malia, which resembles the palaces of Knossos and Phaestos. One of the most significant finds is the well-known gold pendant of two bees (which can be seen in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum). The palace was built during the same period as the Knossos and Phaestos palaces and follows the pattern of Minoan palaces, with a west and a central court, storage rooms, workshop areas, ceremonial halls, chambers, holy crypts, etc.

Heraklio

Museums

Numerous thematic museums show Crete’s glorious past and modern cultural life:
 Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum exhibits significant findings of the Minoan Civilisation and is considered to be one of the most important museums of its kind in the world. Thousands excavation finds, from the Disc of Phaestos to the gold pendant of Malia and the clay dancers from Kamilari reveal an ancient-old illustrious past.

Heraklio Historical Museum

Heraklion Historical Museum presents the evolution of the city during the centuries; among the exhibits stand out three paintings by El Greco and manuscripts of the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis.

Heraklio Ethnology Museum

Cretan Ethnology Museum at Vori reveals the island’s folk life.

Heraklio Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum at Dermatas Bay promotes the unique habitats in Crete and the Mediterranean.

Heraklio
Traditional settlements and historic villages built on mountain slopes and valleys are often surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Discover the local architecture and spirit of Crete at Arhanes, where neoclassic nobility coexists with rural simplicity, or visit Episkopi with its Byzantine churches. Ano Hersonissos is a picturesque hamlet with Byzantine churches, old wells and stone ovens.
Heraklio

Sun-kissed beaches await the fanatic beachgoers! Enjoy a swim at:

Amnissos (a beautiful long sandy beach, 7km east of Heraklion)HeraklioAyia Pelayia, Kali Limenes (a long sandy beach), the beach of Malia (a crowded resort with thin, white sand, 36km east of Heraklion).The beach of Chani Kokkini (a wonderful beach with thin, white sand, 13km east of Heraklion known for its north-west winds, which make the place ideal for wind-surfing).HeraklioThe beach of Limenas Hersonissou (a beautiful sandy beach along a small peninsula 27km east of Heraklion, one of the most crowded in Crete).The beach of Matala (a beautiful beach with crystal waters 70km south-west of Heraklion, famous for the caves carved into the rocks, “discovered” by the hippies in the 70’s)HeraklioThe beach of Ammoudara (an organised large sandy beach with crystalline waters, 6km west of Heraklion).Heraklio

Festivities

Religious celebrations and festivals, traditional popular events, culinary feasts and cultural activities organised throughout the year shape a unique cultural profile. One of the most colourful festivals in Greece, “Heraklion Summer Festival” is held by the Municipality of Heraklion and comprises a rich variety of cultural events. Every summer sea lovers gather in the harbour of Heraklion, where the yacht club of the city organizes yacht races, sailing or rowing lessons and sail rides for the public.
Heraklio
The Wine Festival at Daphnes, organised throughout the first fortnight of July, is dedicated to the local wine of Daphnes and Cretan gastronomy. Sample snails cooked with groats, rabbit with aromatic herbs, pork with celeriac, kapriko pork grilled with herbs, kalitsounia (a pastry filled with cheese) and kserotiyana (honey dipped spiral pastries). Savoury local specialties are complemented with local wine. The region of Heraklion has three VQPRD zones (Vin de Qualite Produit Dans Une Region Determinee: Wines of Quality Produced in Determined Regions): Peza, Daphnes and Arhanes, with plenty of wineries and wine museums.
Heraklio

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