Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.

Heraklion

Heraklion (Iraklion, Ηράκλειο) is the largest city of Crete . With almost 140,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth largest Greek city. Together with the neighboring towns, it forms an agglomeration of around 200,000 people. The important role played by Heraklion in Crete is underlined by the fact that the city is also the administrative capital of the island .

Heraklion - the capital of Crete

Genesis of the city name

Currently, the city is known by many names that have existed over hundreds of years of its history. It's worth mentioning and knowing the few most important ones that are still used in Crete:

  • Heraklion, Herakleion, Iraklion, Iraklio is the transliteration of the ancient name Ἡράκλειον that Idaean Herakles wore. Please, however, do not combine this Heracles with the mythical twelve works, because the namesake of Heraklion is an ancient Greek resident known for having initiated the tradition of crowning the heads of the Olympic winners with garlands of olive branches.
  • Heraklion's second still-known term is Candia. This is the Venetian name of this city derived from the word Chandax (Χάνδαξ or Χάνδακας). Under this complex phrase is the Greek name of the moat. A curiosity and at the same time the proof of the multicultural character of Heraklion is that the term Χάνδακας derives from the Arabic word al-ḫandaq rabḍ. In this way, the name Candia combines the influence of the three most important cultures shaping the history of Crete.
  • The last name under which Heraklion operates is Κάστρο (Kastro), meaning the castle in Greek. The inhabitants of this castle are called Καστρινοί.

Port w Heraklionie
Panorama of the Venetian harbor

History of Heraklion

Some scientists suppose that although there is no direct evidence, the origins of this city can reach as far as 2000 BC. It is believed that in the Minoan era, in the area of ​​present Heraklion, there was a town that served as the sea port of Knossos. The official confirmed date for the founding of modern Heraklion is 824, when the Saracens came to Crete. During this period, Heraklion served as a nest of pirates splitting Byzantine warships flowing in the area. It was only the expedition that the Byzantines carried out in 961 that put an end to this activity of the city of Rabḍ al-ḫandaq ("The Castle of the Moat"), as it was then called Heraklion. It was this year that the army under the leadership of the future Byzantine emperor - Nicefor Phokas, landed in Crete. After a long siege, Heraklion collapsed, the city was plundered and burned, and most of the inhabitants were murdered. Despite the tragic end of the reign of Saracens in this city, Heraklion is quickly rebuilt and under its name Chandax begins its nearly 250-year history under the leadership of Byzantines.

Year 1204 is another landmark date in the city's history. As a result of the 4th Crusade and the political games that were fought after it ended, Heraklion passed under the control of the Venetians. However, this is done in a rather unusual way, because the city changed its owner on the terms of purchase / sale (allegedly for a thousand pieces of silver).




The Venetians are re-naming the city from the Byzantine Chandax to the Italian Candia. Under this name Heraklion operates several centuries, and with time the term Candia is also used in relation to the whole of Crete. During this period, the city is experiencing rapid development, the effects of which are still visible today. It is the huge walls surrounding the old part of the city (with a thickness of up to 40 meters), 7 bastions and the fortress in the port is the work of new owners. After 1212, the Venetians begin to settle in Candia. The mixing of two coexisting cultures leads to the flourishing of literature and art, whose influences radiate throughout the whole of Crete. The period of this dynamic development is now called the Cretan Renaissance.

The year 1669 put an end to the reign of the Venetians in Heraklion. After the (longest) siege lasting 24 years, the Ottoman army captured the city. However, this success was occupied by the Turks highI'm losing. Only in the last 22 months in the bloody battles killed more than 70 thousand. soldiers. The new rulers, like their predecessors, have renamed the city, which from 1669 was to be called Kandiye. Among the Greek inhabitants, however, the name "Megalo Kastro" (Μεγάλο Κάστρο), ie the Grand Castle, was more popular. Unfortunately, the Ottoman era is the time when Heraklion is in decline. As a consequence of neglect, the Venetian seaport is silted, and most of the ships sailing to Crete were calling to Chania , which at that time took over the role of the most important city of Crete (and the capital of this island).

It was not until 1898 that as part of the autonomy of Crete, he regained some of his former independence. Until 1908, Crete was under the occupation of the great powers, and Candia was a part controlled by the British. During this period, the city changes its name again and is renamed today's current, or Heraklion. It was not until 1913 that Heraklion and the rest of Crete were incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece.

Another date that has a strong impact on the current appearance of the city is 1941. As a result of German bombings conducted as part of the invasion of Crete, a large part of Heraklion is destroyed. Despite the reconstruction, the city never regains its original appearance. In 1971, the administrative center was moved to Heraklion, and thus the city takes over the title of the capital of Crete from Chania .

Heraklion airport
International meeting of Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion

How to get there?

Heraklion is located in the central part of the northern coast of Crete. The easiest and most convenient way to reach this city is by renting a car. Of course, there is nothing to prevent you from using the quite good bus communication that is served by KTEL.

Due to its size and its administrative function, Heraklion is very well connected with the rest of Crete. Along the southern outskirts of Heraklion runs the Nowa Droga Narodowa, which is the best transport route connecting it with the other largest cities of the island, that is looking from the western end of the island with: Kissamos, Chania , Rethymnon , Malia , Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. Mostly this route does not require more skills from the driver, as it is a road that does not differ from the Polish national and express roads. Difficulties can be encountered while driving from the city of Sitia, where a large section of the E75 route runs along the former National Road. Also when driving through Malia, you have to take into account traffic jams that are created by cars passing through this place.

The center of Heraklion, like in the case of other major cities of Crete, is a maze of narrow streets, where in most cases one-way traffic is in force. I strongly advise you not to drive your car into this thicket of streets. Even the best maps and GPS navigation will not be enough help in finding yourself in this maze, and problems with parking and dense traffic will only deepen your irritation. Hiking is definitely the best way to explore Heraklion. The car can be parked in the vicinity of the port (eg along Leoforos Nearchou street, where it is relatively easy to find a vacancy), or on one of the several paid car parks that are located on the outskirts of the old town.





What is worth seeing?

Below you will find a list of the most important places that we think are worth seeing in Heraklion:

  • Eleftherias Square in the city center (near the prefecture building, Archaeological Museum and other interesting facilities)
  • Archeological museum
  • Rocca al Mare - Koules
  • Daidalou Street - this is a street whose name derives from Dedal, it is a typical commercial road in which only pedestrian traffic takes place
  • Basilica of St. A brand where the Municipal Art Gallery is currently located
  • Old Venetian port with arsenals
  • KoSt. Titus (Agios Titos)
  • Loggia Wenecka - the most beautiful Venetian building in Heraklion
west
central
east

Interesting places on Crete

↤ click the appropriate part of the island to change the bottom map

Knossos
Knossos

Knossos

Knossos is one of the flagship monuments visited by tourists, it is also the most popular place where organized trips go.

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Heraklion
Heraklion

Heraklion

Heraklion (Iraklion) is the largest city of Crete. With almost 140,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth largest Greek city.

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Margarites
Margarites

Margarites

Dozens of craft workshops located in this small mountain village make Margarites one of the four main centers where traditional Cretan ceramics are made.

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Heraklion - airport
Heraklion - airport

Heraklion - airport

International airport. Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion is currently the largest airport in Crete.

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Moni Arkadiou
Moni Arkadiou

Moni Arkadiou

The date of the foundation of Moni Arkadiou (Arkadi) is not exactly known. According to tradition, the name of this church refers to the name of the Emperor Arkadiusz, who supposedly was to be its founder.

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Moni Arkadiou
Moni Arkadiou

Moni Arkadiou

The date of the foundation of Moni Arkadiou (Arkadi) is not exactly known. According to tradition, the name of this church refers to the name of the Emperor Arkadiusz, who supposedly was to be its founder.

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Rethymnon
Rethymnon

Rethymnon

Rethymnon with around 40,000 inhabitants are the third largest city of Crete. This place was populated already in the Minoan period. Historically, the city was an important commercial center.

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Thrapsano
Thrapsano

Thrapsano

Thrapsano is a small town inhabited by slightly over 2,500 people, the vast majority of which until recently maintained their activity as a potter.

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Skinaria
Skinaria

Skinaria

Skinaria is a small beach located along a small bay, whose outlet on both sides ends with a rocky coast. It is still a little-known place overlooked by mass tourism

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Skinaria
Skinaria

Skinaria

Skinaria is a small beach located along a small bay, whose outlet on both sides ends with a rocky coast. It is still a little-known place overlooked by mass tourism

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Jaskinia Idi
Jaskinia Idi

Jaskinia Idi

According to Greek mythology, Zeus hid (and perhaps even gave birth) in the Ida cave. This myth is the greatest asset of this cave, which is not as interesting and beautiful as the Dikte cave.

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Tripiti
Tripiti

Tripiti

Tripiti is a small beach covered with a mixture of gray sand, gravel and stones. Despite the fact that the beach is unorganized and has a semi-natural appearance, one small tavern works here.

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Tripiti
Tripiti

Tripiti

Tripiti is a small beach covered with a mixture of gray sand, gravel and stones. Despite the fact that the beach is unorganized and has a semi-natural appearance, one small tavern works here.

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Tripiti
Tripiti

Tripiti

Tripiti is a small beach covered with a mixture of gray sand, gravel and stones. Despite the fact that the beach is unorganized and has a semi-natural appearance, one small tavern works here.

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Plakias
Plakias

Plakias

Plakias is a perfect place for people who like to spend time hiking. In the area of the town and the surrounding area, there are several hiking trails that lead to interesting beaches.

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

Preveli monastery

Currently, the lower monastery is still not open to the public and is not used by the monks. The buildings of the upper monastery have undergone partial renovation and are the main seat of the Preveli monastery.

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

Preveli monastery

Currently, the lower monastery is still not open to the public and is not used by the monks. The buildings of the upper monastery have undergone partial renovation and are the main seat of the Preveli monastery.

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

Preveli monastery

Currently, the lower monastery is still not open to the public and is not used by the monks. The buildings of the upper monastery have undergone partial renovation and are the main seat of the Preveli monastery.

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Gorge Kourtaliotiko
Gorge Kourtaliotiko

Gorge Kourtaliotiko

The Kourtaliotiko Gorge, also known as the Asomatos Gorge, is perhaps one of the most spectacular natural attractions available in the central part of Crete.

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Minoan Agia Triada
Minoan Agia Triada

Minoan Agia Triada

Agia Triada is a small Minoan archaeological site in the south of Crete, located near Timpaki, located on the western slope of the hill about 40 meters above sea level.

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Fajstos
Fajstos

Fajstos

Około 60 kilometrów na południowy zachód od stolicy Krety - Heraklionu znajdują się ruiny drugiego co do wielkości starożytnego pałacu - Fajstos.

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Melidoni Cave
Melidoni Cave

Melidoni Cave

Currently, Melidoni Cave (originally called Gerontospilios) is associated mainly with the tragic events that took place here in 1824.

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Koules Fortress
Koules Fortress

Koules Fortress

This fortress is a perfect example of Crete's multiculturalism. Located today in Greek hands, it was built by the Venetians, but is called a name taken from the Turkish language.

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Archeological museum
Archeological museum

Archeological museum

It is one of the most important and largest museums in Greece and one of the most important in Europe.

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Tylissos
Tylissos

Tylissos

Tylissos is one of the few places in Crete that has kept its name since ancient times.

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Damnoni
Damnoni

Damnoni

Plaża w Damnoni jest położona po sąsiedzku z Plakias - popularną turystyczną miejscowością

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Agios Pavlos
Agios Pavlos

Agios Pavlos

Agios Pavlos is a small town located on the southern coast of Crete near Saktouria.

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Triopetra
Triopetra

Triopetra

Triopetra is located at the foot of the Siderotas mountain about 52 km south of Rethymno.

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Agia Galini
Agia Galini

Agia Galini

gia Galini (Αγία Γαλήνη) jest jednym z najpopularniejszych nadmorskich kurortów na południowym wybrzeżu Krety.

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Skinakas Observatory
Skinakas Observatory

Skinakas Observatory

The observatory is located at the top of the Skinakas mountain at an altitude of 1750 m. The idea for its construction was born in 1984.

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Armeni
Armeni

Armeni

The Late-Romanesque cemetery in Armeni is located on the outskirts of this town, located less than 10 km south of the center of Rethymno.

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Military Museum
Military Museum

Military Museum

The museum presents the dramatic history of Crete written over the last several hundred years.

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Argyroupolis
Argyroupolis

Argyroupolis

The modern settlement known as Argyroupolis was built on the site of the ancient city of Lappa (also called Lambi)

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Lentas
Lentas

Lentas

Lentas is a good idea for those who want to get away from villages steeped in industrial tourism.

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Labyrinthaki and Labyrinthos
Labyrinthaki and Labyrinthos

Labyrinthaki and Labyrinthos

This ancient quarry, consisting of two parts by modern times, is called Λαβυρινθάκι and Λαβύρινθος.

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Archeological Museum in Eleftherna
Estiatorio Chrisopigi
Estiatorio Chrisopigi

Estiatorio Chrisopigi

If anyone of you is looking for a good restaurant near Matala and Kalamaki, then we would like to recommend estiório Chrisopigi.

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Gortyna
Gortyna

Gortyna

Gortyna is considered one of the most extensive excavations in Greece.

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Psiloritis - Timios Stavros
Psiloritis - Timios Stavros

Psiloritis - Timios Stavros

Psiloritis (Timios Stavros - Holy Cross) is the top of the highest mountain of Crete, rising to 2456 m above sea level.

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Rouvas Gorge
Rouvas Gorge

Rouvas Gorge

Rouvas Gorge is one of the most interesting places in this part of Crete. The interesting trail leads in a perfect way to the changing appearance of this gorge.

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Matala
Matala

Matala

Matala is one of the most popular towns not only of the southern coast but also of the whole of Crete. In the 1960s and 1970s, this small fishing village was a mecca for hippies.

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Monastery of Odigitrias
Monastery of Odigitrias

Monastery of Odigitrias

The Odigitrias Monastery is one of the most famous monasteries of southern Crete. Unfortunately, in terms of popularity, he is far from other Cretan monasteries.

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Kali Limenes
Kali Limenes

Kali Limenes

Kali Limenes (meaning Dobre Porty or Piękny Przystanie) is a coastal town located in the Asterousia Mountains on the southern coast of Crete.

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Komentarze

Anna Gajowniczek
Anna Gajowniczek
2012-09-12 15:13:00

Fajne miejsce na sesję zdjęciową :)

Moja kuzynka miała tutaj część sesji ślubnej podczas slubu oczywiście z Grekiem !. Zdjęcia wyszły zachwycające na tle twierdzy weneckiej.

 gość}
gość Karol
2017-04-06 19:06:39

Ciekawe miejsca na Krecie

Hej! To co Wy robicie tutaj jest absolutnie fenomenalne. Bardzo chciałem podziękować bo tyle ile skorzystałem przed wyjazdem to a głowa mała. Kreta bez dwóch zdań jest niesamowita. Chyba jedna z moich ulubionych wysp Morza Śródziemnego. Góry, plaże, jedzenie, urocze wioseczki, zabytki no i w sumie nie jest zbyt drogo :) Nie chciałem być dłużny i także coś postanowiłem dać internetowi od siebie. Może te kilka słów ode mnie o ciekawych miejscach Krety komuś się przydadzą... :P Dzięki jeszcze raz - pozdrawiam! :) http://kolemsietoczy.pl/kreta-ciekawe-miejsca-atrakcje-zabytki-porady-plaze-transport-noclegi/

Piotrek Gęca
Piotrek Gęca
2017-04-06 22:04:32

:)

Dzięki za uznanie i bardzo cieszymy się, że nasza strona była przydatna w czasie Twojej wycieczki po Krecie. Mamy nadzieję, że będziesz polecał www.CRETE.pl również na swoim serwisie oraz, że będziesz ją rekomendował wszystkim tym którzy szukają bardziej szczegółowych oraz bieżących informacji o tej greckiej wyspie.
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Najnowsze komentarze:

Wojciech Chwalny : Może ktoś wie czy wolno robić zdjęcia samolotów podchodzących do lądowania, bądź startujących koło lotniska w Heraklionie. Jestem spotterem lotniczym i wyczytałem w bardzo starych postach, że nie bardzo, bo lotnisko ma jakieś podobno instalacje wojskowe. Ale nie wiem jak jest na dzień dzisiejszy. Jak ktoś coś wie, to proszę o info. Lece tam pierwszy raz z stąd moje pytanie. Pozdrawiam
Wojciech Chwalny : Lecę do Heraklionu na początku września. Jestem spotterem lotniczym i chciał bym zrobić jak najlepsze zdjęcia startujących i lądujących samolotów z okolic lotniska (jak najbliżej). Będę tam pierwszy raz i nie wiem jakie miejsce było by najlepsze do fotografii samolotów. Jak ktoś podpowie był bym wdzięczny. Pozdrawiam
Wojciech Chwalny : Cyba maja najlepszych pilotów z Polskich czarterów, nie uniżając innym. Ląduja na 3 lotnisku co do bezpieczeństwa na świecie, to w Madera, leciałem.
Kasia Lelów: Wioska jest piękna, krajobrazy piękne, droga piękna!. Nic tylko się rozkoszować.
Małgorzata Allerhand-Nowicka: Wspomnijcie jeszcze jaką drogą się tam dociera, to wielu się odechce...
gość PiotrWie: My byliśmy w tym roku już dwa razy - i za każdym razem widzieliśmy dwie - trzy kontrole na tej drodze. A poruszamy sie nia mało - tyle co z lotniska do skrętu na południe - za pierwszym razem z Chanii do Heraklionu, za drugim z Chanii do skrętu na Chora Sfakion. Więc tez myślę że warto uważać.
Mirela Sz: Kiedyś mieliśmy wypożyczony samochód i światła nie działały. Wróciliśmy do wypożyczalni i zgłaszamy problem, na co pani: A będziecie jeździć w nocy? My: No nie... Ona: No, to co to za problem, nie są wam potrzebne.
Łukasz Polański: Rok temu widzieliśmy jedną kontrolę na szczęście dla nas byli zajęci :P
Iwona Jażdzewska: Dopiero co wróciliśmy z Krety.Policję widzieliśmy tylko raz.. pędziła na sygnale. Radarów też jak na lekarstwo
Anna Idzikowska: Suzuki Jimny z wypożyczalni są zazwyczaj w takim stanie, że prędkościomierz to atrapa
Rafał Kaczmarek: Co to się wyprawia na mojej ulubionej wyspie...
Bogusława Ja: "Niestety pod względem popularności daleko mu do innych kreteńskich monastyrów tak tłumnie odwiedzanych przez turystów". Dlaczego niestety? Według mnie to jego wielka zaleta :) Jedną z fajniejszych rzeczy kiedy go zwiedzaliśmy był właśnie brak przelewającej się turystycznej stonki(wiem, wiem też jestem elementem tej stonki) ;) :)

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