History is alive in Crete, exists in lyre’s and violin’s melody, in the sound of lute and askomantoura..
Heraklion in ancient times was one of the islands’ ports, part of Knossos. It was called this way until 824 A.D., when conquerors from Saracen’s empire entrenched the city digging a fosse and named it Chandakas.
In Venetian times the name Candia will be hold. During the Turkish period, the city was renamed to Big Castle. Heraklion took again its ancient name after the island’s release from Turks in 1898.
Emblem of the city was the medieval koules (i.e. castle of the 16th century) which is located in the Venetian port. The first fortresses were built by Arabians and then reinforced by Venetians. Only one of seven parapets has been saved, the parapet called Martinego, where the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous writer, is located. His grave is known for the simple and characteristic inscription: “I do not hope for anything, I am not afraid of anything, I am free”. From his grave anyone can have panoramic view of the city. Two of the four entrance gates are saved: Chanioporta (1570) with the characteristic repousse winged lion of Saint Markos and Kenourgia Porta (1587) on the south.
It is a modern cosmopolitan city, built at Mirabellos bay. It took its name from a church named this way (8th century AD), which is located in the south side of the current port. In ancient times Agios Nikolaos was called “Lato to Kamara”, a region of “Lato of Etera”.The latter is an area near Kritsa.
Near to the small haven there is a lake which is estimated 64 meters deep, known as “Bulismeni “. This lake was presumably created from the volcano’s sedimentation.The lake combined with the sea with a small canal which was created in 1870.
Agios Nikolaos lately has turned into an attractive destination for the summer due to the variety of hotels, restaurants, shops and an well-organized marine.The city is famous for its museums as it has Archaeological, Folklore and National History Museum.
Between “Lefka Ori” (White Mountains) and “Psiloritis” (Idi) there is Rethimno’s department full of rocky landscapes, wonderful coasts, Cretan lyre’s melodies, caves ,historical monasteries, traditional mountainous villages and luxurious hotels. It is the most mountainous and outlandish area of Crete.
Rethimno’s city is one of the most well-preserved medieval cities which combines mountainous beauty with a boundless crystal sea. It is located on the ruins of the ancient city Rithimna or Rethimna. With no doubt, Rethimno’s symbol next to the graphic venetian port, is Fortetza, the venetian castle at Palaiokastro hill that Venetians built in order to embattle in a better way the city in 1574. Discover the city’s past beginning from Arkadiou street and continue with the historical center admiring unique monuments, special samples of venetian architecture.
Rethimno’s city is a surprise for visitors providing activities like hiking along the city, where you see old side streets with wooden balconies, high minarets, remnants from the Turkish period but also old venetian manor houses from Venetian period. On the east side of the commercial port there is the beginning of a boundless and organized sandy beach,20 km long, where everyone can swim. Interesting Venetian monuments that everyone can admire is “Arimonti’s fountain” and “Venetian Lotzia”.
The second in population city of Crete, capital city of Chania that covers the western department of Crete. At the location that Chania is today, there was ancient Kidonia, which was built by Kidon. Kidon, according to tradition, was Minoan’s grandson. This ancient city was competitor of Knosos and Gortika city. The wandering in the streets of Ancient City (Palia Poli) with the impressive venetian buildings, the fountains and the temples is just a trip into time.
Trademark of the region is the graphic venetian lighthouse that you see when you get into the venetian haven, historic sample of another age. Opposite the lighthouse there is the venetian castle of Firkas, which was built in 1450 and the Museum of the Greek Navy. On the other side of the haven we can observe Gennitsaros mosque, remnant of the Turkish period. Important sightseeings of the region are also the venetian district Topana and Splantzia with the famous churches of Saint Rokkos (17th century), Agios Nikolaos, Saint Anargiroi and the historical suburb of Chalepa where were the houses of Eleftherios Venizelos and Prince George. Known meeting point is the historical Municipal Market. If you are interested of history and tradition, famous museums such as the Archaeological, the Historical and the Museum of the Greek Navy let you know about the island’s history.
At Chania’s beaches crystal water and thin white sand attracts the tourists: Chrissi Akti, Saint Marina, Saint Apostoloi, Maleme, Kalathas, Stavros, Platanias, Kolibari, Falasarna, Saint Roumeli, Sougia, Ammoudi, Finikas, Votsala, Elafonisi, Loutro, Sailt Paul, Pachia Ammos, Fragkokastelo and Gavdos.