There are four different regions in Crete, each of them with its unique characteristics, fantastic landscape, and a collection of great things to do. Heraklion is the most dynamic region all over Crete. It’s home to the capital of the island, also known as Heraklion.
The regional unit of Heraklion borders the regional units of Rethymno to the west and Lasithi to the east. Household plots are located in the central and northern parts, on the coast and in the valleys. Mountains dominate the rest of the region, especially in the south. The main mountains are parts of Ida or the Idi Mountains in the west and Asterousia in the south. The regional unit includes the island of Dia to the north
The regional unit of Heraklion is divided into 8 municipalities:
Archanes-Asterousia, Chersonisos, Festos, Gartyna, Heraklion, Malevizi, Minoa Pediada und Viannos.
Population (2019): 313,766
The ancient history of Heraklion is strongly associated with the Minoan Palace of Knossos. The Minoans had developed an important navigation system, had built ships and had made beautiful pots to restore their trading goods, usually olive oil, cereals, and wine. This was a peaceful society as archaeologists believe since no fortifications protected the towns. The space-planning of the era is impressive and so are the frescoes that have been discovered in the palace of Knossos. This civilization was destroyed in about 1,500 BC when the volcanic eruption of Santorini raised tsunami waves in the Aegean and covered these towns in volcanic ashes.
During the 9th century, the Arabs occupied Crete and founded at the site of Heraklion a new town called Radth al Khandak (Castle of Handakas). The following century, the Byzantines took over the island and remained there until the 13th century. In the 14th century, the city of Heraklion was surrendered to the Venetians, who ruled Crete for four centuries. This was the most prosperous period for Heraklion with a great development in arts, trade, architecture, and literature.
After the siege of the Turks for 25 years, the Venetians were forced to abandon the town. The Cretans fought against the Turks for many times the centuries that followed and in 1898 the island gained its autonomy. It was finally united with the rest of Greece in 1913.
In 1941 Heraklion was attacked by the German forces. The war caused many destructions and the city was largely damaged. Today, a plethora of Venetian monuments still survive in the town like the old defensive walls which are built around Heraklion, the emblematic fortress, the fountains and other artworks of European character.