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Iraklion Old Town Map and Virtual Tour
An interactive map of the old town, with tourist information, sights, streets, hotels, monuments, historical facts and lots of pictures. A valuable guide for the visitors to the city of Iraklion. (Requires Flash)
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition of Byzantine Art and Ecclesiastical objects. A small sinaitic church of St. Catherine with a Basilica design, houses an exhibition with works of art from the Cretan renaissance. Among the exhibits are some of the most important icons of the Cretan School, ecclesiastical books and manuscripts, vestments, ecclesiastical vessels and relics, wall-paintings, wood-carvings and sculpture.
The fortified enclosure of the Venetian Chandakas of the 15th century, which is still preserved today, is one of the most significant monuments of its kind in the whole Mediterranean basin.
Triangular in shape, with its base at the sea, the mighty enceinte has a perimeter of about 5.5 kilometres. The hallmark of the defensive layout are the bastions, linked by curtain walls decorated at many points by escutcheons and the lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venetian omnipotence. The gates in the enceinte, which served to link the town to the countryside, still stand as important architectural monuments.
To this day, the walls that withstood the Ottoman siege in the mid-17th century mark out the boundary of the old town.
Natural History Museum of Crete
Iraklion, Dermatas Gate
The Natural History Museum of Crete is housed in the renovated former premises of the Heraklion Public Power Corporation, on Dermatas’ Bay. With an area of 3,500 m2, it is the largest exhibition of its kind in the Mediterranean, showcasing the natural environment of Crete and the wider Mediterranean area in an innovative, original way.
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Iraklion Old Town
The "Morosini's fountain" or "Lions' fountain" that dominates the center of Eleftherios Venizelos square in Iraklion old town, is a landmark both for locals and visitors. A masterpiece of the Venetian era that would be the pride of any city in the world.
It was made in 1628 AD, under the supervision of the General Provisioner Francesco Morosini, to satisfy Candia's (Candia was the Venetian name of Crete and its capital - Iraklion - as well) needs for water. For this purpose an aqueduct was constructed to bring the water from the sacred mountain Giouhtas.
Manos Hatzidakis Open Theatre
Behind the "N.Kazantzakis open theatre", in the low square of the Gate of Jesus, was made after the proposal of Manos Hatzidakis and the design of Dionysis Fotopoulos, the Small Open Theatre, that recently named after the famous composer. It is constructed in a way so that is not caused damage in the Venetian Walls, that have been characterized as preservable monuments. In the "Manos Hatzidakis open theatre" (400 - 450 seats), as in "N.Kazantzakis open theatre" a lot of important events took place during the Heraklion Summer Festival.
Martinego Bastion - Kazantzakis tomb
The bastion heart shaped in plan with an acute angle, has two "piazza bassa" and one cavalier. It defines the southeast and the highest part of the fortification. Its name is due to Gabriele Tadini Martinego (1520) who started the construction of a circular tower at the place of the later bastion. It was one of the strongest bastions (the others were that of Pantocratora and that of Vittouri) which also suffered the main attack and most of the bombardment from the Turks.
On the top of the bastion itself there was made a cavalier (which looks like a smaller bastion), whose main purpose was the better defense and control of the area around the bastion.
The grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan writer, is situated on the highest point of the Venetian fortification at the Martinego cavalier. The inscription by the wooden cross reads: " I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free ", a phrase taken from "The Odyssey" which Kazantzakis considered as one of his most significant works.
The playgrounds of the Academy of the local football team "Ergotelis" are located today on the main bastion and in the ditch around the bastion are the botanical gardens of the city.
Agios Titos Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
With the recovery of Crete from Nikiforos Fokas (961AD), the seat of the bishopric is transferred from Gortyna to Chandakas, which became the capital of the island. The new cathedral, which is the most established and largest in the city, is dedicated to the Apostle Titos. Here, amongst other relics, there are gathered the Holy Skull of the Apostle and the miracle working icon of Messopapaditissas.
Agios Minas Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
The Cathedral of St. Minas:The small church of St. Minas did not meet the religious needs of the constantly growing Christian community, so the demand arose for the erection of a new cathedral. The plot for the new church used to be a garden that belonged to a Turk from whom it was bought. The architect was Athanasios Moussis and in 1862 the foundation stone of one of the most magnificent and impressive Greek churches was laid. The outbreak of the Cretan revolution of 1866 demanded the stopping of the building work which will continue in 1883 in order to be completed in 1895, when the inauguration of the exquisite temple took place. The church is of the cruciform type with a dome based on a high spandrel, while internally there are also elements of a three aisle basilica. It has two bell towers, one in the northeastern corner and the other in the southeastern one. The right aisle is dedicated to Apostle Titos and the left one to St. Ten Martyrs of Crete. The inside of the church has gone through many changes with new additions. With plans of the architect Anastasios Orlandos the woodcut icon screen was replaced by another one made of marble, the same happened with the bishop's seat. The religious painting of the church was assigned to St. Kartakis who followed faithfully the principles and the models of the Byzantine icon painting. The hundredth anniversary from the inauguration of the Cathedral Church of St. Minas (1995) was celebrated with every solemnity that is suited in an equal occasion and more specifically to one of the most glorious and imposing Greek churches.
Kyra Eleoussa Monastery
Kyra Eleoússa (GR: Κυρά Ελεούσα) Monastery is located close to the village Voroú or Voritsi. Due to its historical value the monastery and the outside area which covers 1000m has acquired protected status. Kyra Eleoussa is built according to feudal architectural style, and despite some interventions over the years it maintains many original architectural features. It is first referred in a document dating from 1606. At first it belonged to the monastery of Agia Ekaterini of Sinai but later it became part of Agarathos monastery.
The monastery of Agaráthou (GR: Μονή Αγκαράθου), dedicated to the Virgin, stands at an altitude of 538m, on "Soros Panteli", a rocky hill between the villages of Sgourokefali and Sabas, 23 km from Heraklion.
During the period of Venetian rule it was a centre of learning, producing many famous churchmen including the Patriarchs Cyril Lucaris, Meletius Pegas and Sylvester the Cretan.
The church was rebuilt in 1894 and flourished once more after the end of the Turkish occupation. Young, educated monks with university degrees have recently settled in the monastery, restoring it to its former glory.
It was made by "capitano" Gianmatteo Bembo between 1552-1554, it dominates in today's Kornarou square, next to a later Turkish philanthropic fountain. It is decorated with coats of arms and other elements of the renaissance and of gothic type, while in the middle a big headless statue stands out of the roman period. The spring is ornated with floral and embossed elements.
Iraklion Old Town
It was made by Giovanni Sagredo between 1602-1604, part of it has been built in the Northwest corner of today's Loggia (Town Hall) and it is decorated with a carved female statue which according to Gerola's description probably with the left hand she was holding a shield, while with the right one a kind of a big hammer for display, representing the personification of Crete.
Philanthropic fountain (Koubes)
Kornarou square, Iraklion City
It was built in 1776 by Hadji Ibrahim aga. In order to keep it working, he dedicated almost all his property. It is unique in its kind that is still preserved today. It is of a circular type building with a "tholos" and around the walls there are semi-circular windows with rails, in front of each one of them there exist a tap with a stone basin for the water to be collected. Today it is used as a coffeehouse.
Iraklion Old Town
It is next to the external Gate of St. George, underneath the statue of Eleutherios Venizelos. Within an arched construction, which its top is decorated with floral elements, there is a plaque and the spout is within a relief decorated frame. The water was collected in a marble basin of a similar decoration.
Genitsar aga's fountain
It is in the Ikarou Avenue, next to the Epigraphic Collection of Heraklion Museum. Within an arched construction which, is surrounded by two big square columns, decorated with rosettes, there is a relief spout of fine workmanship. The water is gathered in a marble basin adorned by a richly decorated relief.
Saint Mark Basilica
Heraklion old town
The Basilica of Saint Mark is one of the most important Venetian buildings-monuments in Heraklion. Today it houses the city’s Municipal Art Gallery. The Venetians, wishing to consolidate their dominance over their new colony (Heraklion) and to express their gratitude and love for their mother country, built a church in the city’s centre dedicated to Saint Mark, patron saint of Venice. The Basilica managed to survive various earthquakes which afflicted Heraklion over the centuries with only minor repairs. During the Turkish rule it was converted into a mosque, the Defterdar Mosque, named after Defterdar Ahmet Pasha, the head of the financial department. The Ottomans demolished the bell-tower of the basilica and raised a minaret in its place, which in its turn was taken down by the residents of Heraklion after the liberation of the island in their attempt to erase the unpleasant reminders and symbols of the Turkish occupation.
Agia Paraskevi village
Village of the area of Kastelli with 115 residents, Agia Paraskevi is situated 5 km northeast of Kastelli at an altitude of 400m. It is first mentioned in the Turkish census of 1671 as Agia Paraskevi tou Xourdou with 17 haratsia (head tax).
It is very possible that Santa Venerata, a village mentioned in 1463 by Cardinal Bissarion, is the name by which Agia Paraskevi was known at that period.
Amariano, a charming small village of 321 inhabitants, (census 2001), lies in the western foothills of Afendi mountain, at an altitude of 530m. It is located at 7, 2 km east of Kastelli and can be found on the road axis; Kasteli -Xidas- Kastamonitsa-Amariano.
With the traditional, century old plane tree in the middle of the village square, with the fountain, surrounded by kafeneions (traditional cafes) serving refreshments; raki (or tsikoudia, the traditional Cretan spirit) and mezedes (tit-bits), Amariano is a typical Cretan village, well worth a look. Until recently, the leather tannery was a main activity among the villagers. The main produce today are olive oil, raisins and grapes, although there is also livestock.
Close by is the church of Agios Giorgos Kefaliotis with good quality wall paintings.
The cultural centre of Amariano organises a great feast on August 15th, the Dormition of Theotokos and on September 20th, day of the patron saint, Aghios Eustathios. This can be a great occasion for any visitor to live an authentic cultural experience, to meet the people and taste the traditional Cretan cuisine.
The first mention of the village -Amariano and Mariano- is to be found in inscriptions dating back to 1394-1399. Fr. Barozzi also mentions it in the region of Pediada in 1577.
The name is significant: Amari is an area close to the town of Rethymnon, therefore the first inhabitants were originally from the Amari region. During the second Byzantine period, this region was known as Apano Syvritos and the name Amari is first mention in Venetian times. This would imply that the village was first founded during the Venetian conquest of the island. The first spelling, Amarianos, is the correct one and the family names Amarianos, Amargianitakis and Amariotis first appear in the 16th century, in the 1583 cencus.
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