Heraklion: commercial and economic center
The port of Knossos quickly became the most important of the Venetian ports in the 16th century. The department of Heraklion comprises three important municipalities: Gouves, Malia and Hersonnissos. It is the most populated department, with 300,000 inhabitants on an area of 2700 m2.
It was here that the famous icon painter,Michael Damaskinos, his student,Domeni Kos Theotokopoulos(El Greco) as well as the famous writerNikos Kazantzakis.(Zorba the Greek, the recrucified Christ...).
In the municipality of Gouves isAmnissus, an important Minoan city, which was the port of Knossos. The infrastructure of Gouves is very important, many hotels and resorts have been established there by foreign investors. Nevertheless, very beautiful sandy beaches have been preserved, facing the islet of Dia. This whole area was heavily populated in Minoan times. We will therefore find a lot of old sites, a little abandoned. Gouves was a very important center of Minoan potters. The whole bay was used as a port until the 3rd century AD During the Byzantine and Venetian period, the inhabitants were moved inland. finds the sanctuary of Zeus Thenata. Many offerings were found, including two eagles, now on display at the Museum.
Here we find the Nirou mansion, which is a large residence of the neopalatial period, with forty rooms. 4 bronze axes were found there, suggesting that the owner was a sovereign high priest. Not far from there, a small artificial port for boats.
In Malia se the third most important palatial center of the island, with an area of 7500 m2. This is where the famous gold "bee pendant" was found.
The Minoan Palace of Malia deserves your visit. We do not recommend Malia to stay there.
Hersonissos is home to the ancient port of Lyttos, which has very rare ceramics.
We do not recommend an extended stay in this area... Lots of luxurious hotels, aimed at a clientele who will not visit authentic Crete and who will remain locked in the hotel. But the Museum of Heraklio, recently renovated, is a marvel.
Heraklio is home tothe Archaeological Museum,the second largest museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world. It traces the history of the island, from the Neolithic period to the Roman period.
If there are several of you, we advise you to provide a guide... This guided tour will open the doors to Cretan history and culture. You will find very professional and competent guides at the entrance of the museum. You can also, before your arrival, plan this intervention. (recommended).