Heraklion or Iraklion (Ηράκλειο, Irákleio, iˈɾaklio̞; ), is the largest city and capital of Crete. It is also the fourth largest city in Greece. Its name is also spelled Herakleion, a transliteration of the ancient Greek and Katharevousa name, Ἡράκλειον, or Iraklio, among other variants. For centuries it was known as Candia, a Venetian adaptation of the earlier Greek name Χάνδαξ or Χάνδακας, which in turn came from the Arabic rabḍ al-ḫandaq. Under the Ottoman Empire, it was called Kandiye). In the local vernacular, it is often called Κάστρο (Kástro, "castle") and its inhabitants Καστρινοί (Kastrinoí, "castle dwellers").
Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion Prefecture, with an international airport named after the writer Nikos Kazantzakis. The ruins of Knossos, which were excavated and restored by Arthur Evans, are nearby.
In 1204, the city was bought by the Republic of Venice as part of a complicated political deal which involved among other things, the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade restoring the deposed Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelus to his throne. The Venetians improved on the ditch by building enormous fortifications, most of which are still in place, including a giant wall, in places up to 40 m thick, with 7 bastions, and a fortress in the harbour. Chandax was renamed to Candia in Italian and became the seat of the Duke of Candia. As a result, the Venetian administrative district of Crete became known as "Regno di Candia" (Kingdom of Candia). The city retained the name of Candia for centuries and the same name was often used to refer to the whole island of Crete as well. To secure their rule, Venetians began in 1212 to resettle families from Venice on Crete. The coexistence of two different cultures and the influence of Italian Renaissance lead to a flourishing of letters and the arts in Candia and Crete in general, that is today known as the Cretan Renaissance.
With the rest of Crete, Heraklion was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece in 1913. The biggest monument of the city is the Venetian medieval fortress Rocca al Mare (also known as Koules, Turkish for "tower") located at the port.
Heraklion International Airport, or Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is located about 5km east of the city. The airport is named after Herkalion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer and philosopher. It is the second busiest airport of Greece, mostly due to the fact that Crete is a major destination for tourists during summer. There are regular domestic flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki and Rhodes with Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airlines. Cyprus Airways and Aegean Airlines fly to Larnaca. Furthermore, Sky Express operates direct flights to Aegean islands such as Rhodes, Santorini, Samos, Kos, Mytilini and Ikaria. During the summer period, traffic is intense and the flight destinations are from all over Europe (mostly Germany, UK, Italy and Russia). The airfield is shared with the 126 Combat Group of the Hellenic Air Force. The take off in western direction leads directly over the town of Heraklion, which makes it a very noisy city.
EIB promotes "green cities" in Greece through a pioneering loan of EUR 50 million to the municipality of Heraklion in Crete.
Jan 25, 2010; ATHENS (Greece), Jan 25, 2010 -- (InPR) -- The European Investment Bank is promoting "green cities" in Greece through a...
Researchers from Heraklion University report details of new studies and findings in the area of hepatocellular cancer.
Jul 24, 2010; A new study, 'A concentration-dependent effect of ursodeoxycholate on apoptosis and caspases activities of HepG2 hepatocellular...
New findings reported from Heraklion University, Department of Thoracic Medicine describe advances in angiogenesis.
Dec 14, 2010; A report, 'Investigation of angiogenetic axis Angiopoietin-1 and -2/Tie-2 in fibrotic lung diseases: a bronchoalveolar lavage...