Heraklion is the capital city of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, and the city the ideal location to begin a visit in Crete.
A Venetian fortress called Koules dominates the entrance to the harbour. It is the symbol of Heraklion and one of the most beloved and familiar monuments in the city. From the harbour, take a stroll down 25th of August Street to see some beautiful Neoclassical buildings erected in 1898 to give Heraklion the air of a modern city. Today these buildings house banks, travel bureaus and tourist shops. Another pedestrian street good for shopping is Daidalou Street, which is home to the largest concentration of music shops in the city. From this street, visitors can walk to Eleftheriou Venizelou Square, better known as Lions Square. A Venetian fountain of lions with water pouring from their mouths is at the centre of the square and it was one of the most important monuments given to Heraklion by the Venetians; solving the problem of supplying the city with water.
The ruins of the ancient city of Knossos lie only 5km south of Heraklion. These ruins were discovered in 1878, and the site was purchases by Arthur Evans in 1900. He conducted not only an excavation, but a restoration as well, and rebuilt the palace out of concrete. Although modern archaeologists would condemn such an act, visitors can get a better picture of what the palace would have looked like at the height of the Minoan civilization.