The history of Iraklion, the capital of Crete, stretches back over 5000 years to the time of the Minoans – Europe's first civilisation – and is a port city of remarkably well preserved fortifications, a fine, animated street market and atmospheric old alleys and museums.
Also known as Heraklion, the city’s most sought-after highlight is the Minoan Palace of Knossos, an archaeological site that has amazing frescoes and baths to discover. Guarding the city’s Venetian port is the 16th century Koules fortress, and the vast Heraklion Archaeological Museum exhibits classic Hellenic and Roman sculptures, frescoes, jewellery, wall-paintings, pottery and Minoan art.
Iraklion's notoriously congested streets have been dramatically improved in recent years with investment in infrastructure, which has included the redevelopment of the beautiful waterfront district. The city’s stunning architecture gives way to high-end stores of Daedalou Street, and many fine restaurants. Away from the city’s bright lights, there are plenty of outstanding ancient sights to uncover including the Martinengo Bastion and the Chanioporta Gate.