Walking Around Irakleio

Here are some of the things you’ll see when walking around Irakleio, the capital of Crete, including churches, squares, and the beautiful Venetian Loggia.

The Venetian Loggia in Irakleio on CreteThe Venetian Loggia in Irakleio

Platia Eleftherias

Its name translates as ‘Liberty Square’, and this large open space at the top of Dedalou Street, provides freedom from the sometimes claustrophobic feel of the city.

Traditionally this square was the centre of the city, and though the ring of rushing traffic around the edge has somewhat dampened its appeal, locals still frequent it for an evening stroll. There are shady benches beneath the palms and acacias, and a string of cafés and restaurants alongside.

Áyios Títos

Áyios Títos sits back from the main road on a lovely square. With its sky-blue ceiling and dome, three-tiered carved wood chandelier and modern stained-glass windows, it has a light, airy feel in contrast to most of the churches you’ll visit on the island. Built during Byzantine times, it was the seat of the Metropolitan (bishop) of Crete. During the Turkish occupation it was converted into a mosque, and was entirely rebuilt following its destruction in an earthquake in 1856. 

When the Turkish population left Crete in 1923, it was reconsecrated to the Apostle Titus, Crete’s first bishop. His remains had been kept here for 700 years until the Venetians took them to Venice in 1669. They were returned in 1966, and the saint’s skull now lies in a gold reliquary.  

Venetian Loggia

This is Irákleio’s most handsome building after the fortress. Built in 1628 by Francisco Morosini, it was a place of meeting and recreation for the Venetian nobility. Its Palladian style combines Doric order on the lower floor with Ionic on the upper floor.

The ground floor porch, with its elegant arches, is decorated with medallions of famous Cretans. The loggia is part of a larger building with once held the Venetian armoury, and now houses the Town Hall. It stands opposite the Morosini Fountain.

The Church of Ayios Marcos in Irakleio on CreteThe Church of Ayios Marcos in Irakleio

Áyios Márcos

The Church of St Mark was first built in 1239 and was the church of the Duke, ruler of the island. It became a cathedral in Venetian times and, like most other Irákleio churches, it was converted into a mosque by the Turks. Unlike the others it was not reconsecrated after their departure and in 1923 it became the National Bank.

Now restored to its original form, with a striking colonnaded porch and marble doorway, it is used as a concert hall and art gallery. The arched ceiling, fat pillars and stone walls of the interior make a superb display space for changing exhibitions of contemporary art. 

Platia Venizelou 

This small central square is one of the liveliest in the capital and a popular focal point for tourists and locals alike. It is named for the great Cretan statesman, Eleftherios Venizelos, who became prime minister of Greece. Also known as Lion Square or Fountain Square, its centrepiece is the Morosini Fountain.

This regal work was built in 1628 by Francisco Morosini, the Venetian governor of the city. A 16 km (9.9 miles) aqueduct brought water from the mountains to the fountain. The four stone lions supporting the central basin have great character and are even older; dating to the 14th century, they are thought to have come from another fountain. The curvaceous marble base is decorated with marine carvings of mermaids, tritons and other figures. 

The square has plenty of cafés and restaurants where you can have a coffee, an ice cream or the custard-filled Cretan speciality, bougátsa. It’s a perfect vantage point on the passing scene, but if you prefer a quieter retreat try the adjacent El Greco Park, behind the yellow sub-post office. It has pretty gardens and a children’s playground at one end. 

Platia Kornarou

Irákleio’s street market ends at Platia Kornarou. This small, quiet square is a pleasant place to stop for a break. The stone kiosk in the centre, which once housed a Turkish fountain, has been converted into a small café.

Beside it is the Bembo Fountain, named after the Venetian commander Zanne Matteo Bembo, who first supplied the town with running water. It was erected in 1588 and incorporates the torso of a Roman statue from Ierápetra.

Where to Stay in Irakleio

Other Irakleio pages

  • Irakleio’s Icon Museum

    Irakleio’s Icon Museum in the church of Ayia Aikaterini is a small but impressive collection from the world’s best icon painters.

  • Irakleio’s Historical Museum

    Irakleio’s Historical Museum is officially called the Historical Museum of Crete and contains the only work by El Greco that is still on his native island.

  • Irakleio’s Archaeological Museum

    Irakleio’s Archaeological Museum is Crete’s most important museum and contains some of Crete’s oldest artefacts, Minoan frescoes and the Phaistos Disc.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Popular Paliokastritsa on Corfu Gets New Marina

    Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Corfu Mayor Meropi Hydraiou inaugurated this week a new 103-berth marina at Alypa in Paliokastritsa. “The project will bring added value to the cosmopolita…

    Read More

  2. Poll: Cost-conscious Greeks Prefer Beach Holidays This Year

    Financially pressed Greeks are choosing beach holidays this year, according to a study released by Athens-based research firm Focus Bari in collaboration with YouGov. Carried out in July on a represen…

    Read More

  3. Costa Navarino Welcomes the ‘Democracy and Happiness Weekend’ in September

    World acclaimed authors, innovative thinkers and award-winning thought leaders will gather at Costa Navarino in Messinia in September to participate in the “Democracy and Happiness Weekend”, a cultura…

    Read More

  4. Chios State Airport to Get Long-awaited Upgrade

    The Greek Transport Ministry recently announced that the “Omiros” state airport on Chios will receive 9.6 million euros in funding to significantly upgrade infrastructure and expand facilities. The wo…

    Read More

  5. SKY express: New Routes from Athens to Milan, Munich and Sofia

    Greek airline SKY express recently announced the expansion of its network of destinations by adding new routes from Athens to the popular cities of Munich, Milan and Sofia. “We have announced the expa…

    Read More

  6. Vessels from 45 Countries Cross Greece’s Corinth Canal in July

    Vessels from 45 countries crossed Greece’s Corinth Canal in July after it reopened to transit, the country’s public assets authority said Thursday. One of the country’s most-visited sites, the Corinth…

    Read More

  7. Shopping Tips for Crete

    These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.

    Read More

  8. Corfu Shopping Tips

    These Corfu shopping tips include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, wood carvings, and food and drink, with tips on haggling.

    Read More

  9. Tinos: Island of Miracles

    The Virgin, the art of marble crafting, the vernacular architecture, the rich interior, and of course the north wind. Maya Tsoclis writes about her island.

    Read More

  10. Six Days of Sailing in the Dodecanese

    If you're looking for a time machine, the waters between Crete and Rhodes are where you should sail.

    Read More