Five landmarks in Heraklion worth paying a visit
Heraklion is an open air museum, it is a destination relevant to its rich cultural scene, home to a complex history, and a heritage made of a wonderful variety of buildings. Different cultures have dominated the island over the years, leaving behind a plethora if architectonic landmarks that shape the facade of the city. While taking a break in the capital of the island, it is possible to admire some of these buildings during a walk around the city. These are five landmarks in Heraklion worth paying a visit.
The Venetian Fortress or Koules
Standing at the entrance of the city port, the Venetians used to call the Fortress of Heraklion Castello a Mare or Rocca a Mare, however, the impressive structure is best known by everyone as Koules, a memory of the Turkish domination on Crete.
This construction, a symbol in town, hides mysteries and legends within its cells. Here, the Cretan rebels fought for the freedom of their land, were held prisoners and underwent torture and deprivation.
This two-story building has 26 rooms and five casemates for cannons on the ground floor. At a later age, these were moved to open platforms on the upper floor. In the fortress, there was also a chapel as well as a mill and oven for making bread.
The Venetian Loggia
The Loggia is a Venetian building that used to function as a meeting place for rulers and nobles. It’s also the place where they would make the most important political decisions.
The building takes inspiration from Palladio’s Basilica in Vicenza, Italy. It is a refined combination of several architectural styles. There are several balconies which once hosted the heralds of the state when laws were proclaimed. The Venetian duke used the balconies to address the public and watch parades.
In the beating center of town, not far from the Loggia, the beautiful Morosini fountain dates back to 1628. It was built during the Venetian era under the orders of the General Provisioner of Candia, Francesco Morosini.
The fountain is a complex as well as innovative engineering system. A combination of pipelines takes advantage of the natural shape of the terrain to bring water from the village of Archanes, a few kilometers away.
The eight lobes surrounding the fountain could host up to five people filling their jars with water. The fountain has mythological and maritime figures, yet water flows from the mouth of lions, a symbol of the Venetian Republic.
Also known as the defensive walls, the Fortifications of Heraklion surround the city. They have played a key protective role through the centuries. The first city walls date back to the Middle Ages. Upon the arrival of the Venetians, after the fall of Constantinople, the Republic of Venice completely rebuilt the fortification.
The works took over a century to be completed and yet the fortifications were strengthened during the years through various outworks and defensive works of architecture.
These defensive walls withstood 21 years of siege, the longest in history before falling to the Ottomans in 1669. Largely preserved until the present, Heraklion’s fortifications have made it one of the best-fortified cities in the Mediterranean. They are among the most outstanding Venetian fortifications in Europe
25th of August Street
Known in the past as Illusion Street thanks to the unique buildings along the way, the main pedestrian road connects the central crossroads of Heraklion to the Venetian harbor.
25th of August Street is home to the most important buildings in town. It hosts the Loggia, the church of Saint Titus, and Saint Mark’s Basilica. Towards the port, there are several traditional ouzeries (ouzo bars) serve seafood, and the local spirit of Crete, tsikoudia.
This road counts the finest Neoclassical buildings of Heraklion that, still today, give the city a unique flair and elegance. When in town, check our hotel featuring the most characteristic Cretan traits.