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Heraklion is the major city and capital of the largest Greek island of Crete. Its Archaeological Museum holds the remains of the 3000-year old Minoan civilization, which grew aroud the nearby legendary palace of Knossos (of Minotaur fame), as well as Byzantine churches and a well-preserved Venetian wall and fortress from the 15th century. Located in the middle of the island, all roads lead to Heraklion. Heraklion has a busy harbour and very busy airport and usually is the starting point of travels to Crete and nearby islands. Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines fly in from Athens and other major Greek cities. The recently established Athens Airways also connects Heraklion with Athens. During summer, Sky Express flies to several Aegean islands. Heraklion is connected with the rest of Crete by regular bus lines operated by two KTEL companies. There are ferries for travel from other islands and Piraeus/Athens. High speed catamarans run. According to tradition, Knossos was the seat of the legendary Cretan king Minos. (Pause for advertisement): Book deals on hotels in the best locations at your travel destinations. Make hotel reservations. Reserve hotel rooms and suites. Find lodging and accommodations to suit your tastes. Look up hotel deals at AirGorilla and HotelGorilla.com (end of ad). The Palace is also connected with further legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, as well as the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. Koules is the Venetian castle in the harbour. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the world's great museums, embodying a whole splendid vanished culture. At least two hours should be allowed to see it, and it could easily take longer. For those seriously interested in that culture, it will be worth while to make two visits to the museum, one before, and one after, visiting Knossos and other Minoan sites: seeing the museum first will enhance your understanding of the sites, and after seeing the sites, you'll be better able to understand the artifacts in the museum when you return. Amoudara si the city's beach area, a three kilometer strip of sandy beach, lots of cafes, bars and hotels and the site of "Technopolis", a modern multiplex cinema and open-air theatre. Visitors can climb on a 50 foot rock at the suburb of Karteros, east of Heraklion. Safety equipment is provided, but one can use his own gear too. Raki, also known as Tsikoudia, is the the trademark of Cretan day and night life, a strong clear drink similar to Grappa in Italy or Orujo in Spain. It is made out of the 'must' of grape skins and twigs after the local production of the white wine. It doesn't taste like aniseed, as opposed to the Turkish raki. There are not many hostels available in Heraklion, but if one searches hard he can find a couple of them. Both are situated in the city centre, only a 10' drive from the airport and a 5' drive from the port. One can go there by taxi. Most taxi drivers know where these hostels are. Hotels available include Life Hotel, Mirabello Hotel, and the LATO Boutique Hotel.
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