Heraklion Prefecture - Crete (Greece)
Prefecture of Heraklion is one of the four prefectures on the island of Crete. Its capital is the city of Heraklion. The area covers the eastern central part of Crete and it borders to the west with the prefecture of Rethymno and to the east with the prefecture of Lassithi. On the north coast are several major tourist coastal towns, such as Hersonissos, Malia and Stalis.
A cosy resort on the north side is Agia Pelagia. On the south coast there are several smaller resorts, the best known are Matala, Kalamaki and Kokkinos Pyrgos. In the Messara valley, which is the largest valley on Crete, you will see thousands of olive groves and many greenhouses that grow mainly tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons. Idi Mountains runs partly through the prefecture of Heraklion, this is the highest mountain of Crete. According to Greek mythology the God Zeus was born here. In the South of Heraklion is the archaeological site of the famous palace of King Minos of Knossos. The second most important archaeological site is the one of Phaistos, in the south. In the mountains, south of Ida, the place Zaros is located famous for its drinking water and also worth a visit. Visit also the small village of Vori with its beautiful ethnological museum.
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Beautiful Beaches of prefecture Heraklion
There are several impressive beaches in prefecture Heraklion. The most famous beaches are on the north coast but on the south coast you will see excellent beaches too.
The most popular beaches in the north of Prefecture Heraklion are: Fodele beach, the beaches of Agia Pelagia, Amoudara, Karteros, Kokkini Chani, Gournes and Gouves, Analipsis, Anissaras, Hersonissos, Stalis, Malia and many more.
The most popular beaches in the south of the Prefecture Heraklion are: Kokkinos Pyrgos, Matala, Komos, Kalamaki, Lendas, Kali Limenes and many more.
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Sights prefecture Heraklion
- Knossos: A few kilometres from the centre of Heraklion city are the ruins of Knossos. Knossos was the heart of the Minoan Civilizations and the Palace of Knossos was inhabited from 7000 B.C. to the Roman period.
- The Palace of Phaistos: This is the second largest in size and importance of the Minoan Palaces after that of Knossos. The Palace of Phaistos was built on the top of a low hill in the Messara Valley. The most important finding here the Disc of Phaistos.
- Ancient Gortyna: Ancient Gortyna is located next to Agioi Deka, a small village in the Messara Valley. During the Roman period it was the capital of Crete.
- The Palace of Malia: The third most important Minoan site is located in Malia.
- The fortification buildings: The Venetian fortifications of Heraklion with in the front.
- The museums in Heraklion city: The Archaeological museum of Heraklion, the Battle of Crete museum, The historical museum
- The Ethnological museum in the village of Vori in the Messara Valley.
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Monasteries prefecture Heraklion
- The Monastery of Odigitria: in its yard there is a fortification tower that protected the monks from invaders.
- The Monastery of Kaliviani near the town of Mires in the Messara Valley. It is unique because it combines Christian faith with social offering.
- Other monasteries are located in Kroussonas, Koudoumas, Apezana, Vrontisi, Houdetsi, Fodele, Savathiana, Zaros, Arvi and in many other places
Gorges of prefecture Heraklion
Prefecture Heraklion constitutes plenty of beautiful gorges.
- The Gorge of Agios Nikolaos in Zaros
- The Agiofarango gorge (South coast)
- The Astritsiou Gorge (8 kilometres - 4.2 miles)
- The Astrakiano Gorge ( 12,5 kilolmetres - 7 miles)
- The Arvi Gorge (South coast)
- The Agios Antonios Gorge (South coast)
- The Kounaviano gorge in Giouhtas
- The Knosano Gorge near the village Ano Asites (6 km - 3.2 miles)
Text: Yorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Text edited by Maxine van Hoften Gee
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