Capital of Crete

This page may contain affiliate links, see our disclaimer here.

Iraklio, Iraklion or Heraklion Crete

Capital of Crete - Heraklion

Heraklion Ηράκλειο

The Capital of Crete has many names Heraklion, Heraklio, Iraklio, Iraklion, and in the past Handax and Candia.

The township has a colourful history and is located in the central north of the island. As the main administrative capital, it has many government buildings, a hospital, a university, as well as an international Crete airport and huge ferry port.

With a population of over 200,000, it is the capital of the region also called Heraklion, as well as the capital of the island.

Heraklion has the largest archaeological museum in Crete, which is one of the most fascinating on the island, and the site of the Palace of Knossos lies just 5 km outside the city.

Iraklio is a modern town, with a lot of history interwoven amongst its bustling streets. From the central Morosini Fountain to the beautiful Kornaros Square and Eleftherias Square, the architecture, monuments and museums are surprising amongst the concrete.

At the old harbour side lies the ruined Venetian fortress, and large Venetian arsenals form wide arcs. Traditional fishing boats ring the harbour side, and fishing nets trip up the tourists as they wander by. Good fish tavernas can be found here.

Agios Titos Church Heraklion Crete (image by bongo vongo)Agios Titos Church, Heraklion Crete

Capital of Crete

Walking along 25th of August Street from the port to the city centre reveals much of the city’s character, with charming restored Venetian buildings on either side, a large and beautiful tree-lined plateia in front of the exquisite Agios Titos church (above), and as one approaches the square of the Liondaria, the beautiful Venetian Loggia (below) is on your left.

Heraklion - Venetian LoggiaThe Venetian Loggia on 25 August Street

Near the Liondaria is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy a bougatsa Greek pastry and Greek coffee, then continue on to explore the local markets on 1866 Street.

In the evenings, the cafe bars of the Koraii district are full to overflowing, a loose and friendly atmosphere prevails, one thousand conversations are all happening at the same time, these narrow pedestrian streets are wonderful to explore in the evenings.

See a walking guide of Heraklion here...

See more about the museums of Heraklion here...

Venetian Loggia in HeraklionThe Venetian Loggia in Heraklion in the centre of town near the Liondaria Fountain

Strolling up from the port along 25 August Street, the visitor will see many of the prettiest parts of the town and then come upon the intersection where the markets or laiki agora begins.

After walking through the markets, relax in the large plateia or square of Kornaros, circled by cafes near the Bembo Venetian Fountain and Turkish Fountain (pictured below).

The Bembo Fountain in HeraklionThe Bembo Fountain in Heraklion dating from 1554 bearing the Gritti coat of arms
The old Turkish fountain is now a kafenion in Kournarou Square, HeraklionThe old Turkish fountain is now a kafenion in Kournarou Square

Heraklion is very central to the whole of Crete, from here you can explore not only the ancient history of the Palace of Knossos but local beaches such as Ammoudara and Agia Pelagia.

See more about travelling in the Heraklion region with Q&As here...

Accommodation & Map of Heraklion

Here is a map of Heraklion with our suggestions for
accommodation marked.

See more about beach accommodation in Heraklion here...

A video homage to the Capital of Crete - Heraklion - where modern life is woven with the threads of time...

"Where the Thread of History Begins"

Crete Travel Guide
Travel to the Greek Islands
Travel to Athens
Crete to Santorini