The prefecture of Heraklion holds great mythological, historical and archaeological significance.
With 305.000 residents, it lies in the central eastern part of Crete and covers 2.641km2. It is divided into eight municipalities: Archanes-Asterousia, Phaistos, Gortyna, Heraklion, Hersonissos, Malevizi, Minoa Pediada and Viannos.
The Minoan civilization developed here taking a privileged place throughout the Mediterranean. The legendary Knossos is one of Europe’s most important archaeological sites along with Phaistos, Malia and Gortyna.
Today Heraklion prefecture is still strategically positioned, thus making it the main economically developed area of Crete. Nikos Kazantzakis/Heraklion International Airport is the second busiest airport in Greece located 5km outside the capital.
The fascinating capital city of Crete, Heraklion, is situated here with a population of 173.450 inhabitants. It is a vibrant working metropolis with a variety of attractive features. The Old Town provides interesting walks within the city and is surrounded by the formidable medieval walls which are known to be one of the longest city walls in Europe. The elegantly arcaded building of the Loggia (Venetian meeting place) has been restored to its former glory and houses the Town Hall. Nearby is the beautiful Agios Titos which had fallen to the hands of many conquerors before being consecrated by the Greek Orthodox Church. At the gate of the old Venetian port stands the impressive emblem of the city - the Castello del Molo. The harbour is filled with brightly coloured fishing boats and thriving taverns.
Other interesting buildings such as the enormous Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the History Museum collect together many artefacts from the past. The Natural History Museum provides study, protection and promotion of the natural environment. Thalassocosmos or the Cretaquarium houses 2.500 marine species and is known for its new research centre and wonderful entertainment.
The northern coast of Heraklion prefecture adjoins the Aegean Sea where long sandy beaches unfold. The south coast is washed by the Libyan Sea and offers a variety of coves, cliffs and beaches.
Most of the landscape is semi-mountainous with peaks lower than 1.000m. On the south side of the prefecture is the most extensive low-land and the most fertile Messara plain which is dedicated to agriculture and cattle breeding.