Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Heraklion, Greece

It's been over 20 years since I was last in Heraklion, Crete.  Back when I was stationed at Iraklion Air Station not far from Heraklion.  It's been a nice visit being back and seeing how the city has changed. So here's a bit about Heraklion.

Ηράκλειο is the capital of Crete with a population of about 174,000, with more than 225,500 in the greater metro area.  It is the fifth largest city in Greece

The city was founded in 824.  Like the rest of Crete, the city has been ruled by the Byzantines, the Venetians, and the Ottoman Empire.  In 1913 Crete became part of Greece and, in 1971, Heraklion replaced Chania as the island's capital.

The best known landmark in Heraklion is probably the Venetian Fortress.  It was built in 1523 - 1540.  The inside is currently closed due to renovations.

The Basilica of St. Mark was built back in Venetian times.  Today it is home to the Municipal Art Gallery.

At the centre of Eleftherias Square is the Statue of the Unknown Soldier.

The Venetian Loggia was completed in 1628.  It used to be where the nobles of Crete used to meet but today it is city hall.

The Lion Fountain, officially the Morozini Fountain, was built in 1629.

The Agios Minas Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Greece with capacity for 8,000 people.  It was built from 1862 - 1895 and is dedicated to Saint Menas who is the city's patron saint.

The Church of Ayia Aikaterini of Sinaites was probably built in the 16th century.  The church had been converted to a mosque in 1669 when the city was occupied by the Turks until the early 20th century.  The church is open every morning for visitors but a service is only held on the 25th of November for Saint Catherine's name day.

An earthquake destroyed the church of Saint Titus in 1856 and it was rebuilt as the Ottoman Vezir Mosque.  The minaret was taken down in the 1920s and it is now the Basilica of St. Titus.

About 30 minutes from the city is the Minoan Palace of Knossos.  The Bronze Age archaeological site is considered one of Europe's oldest cities.

My old base is now home to the CretAquarium.

It was fun exploring the city again but the main point of going to Crete was for some serious beach time.

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