Heraklion is the largest city of the island of Crete and the Municipality of Heraklion is the fifth largest in Greece with a population of 173,993 - 211,370 the urban area (2011 census).
The main financial resources of the city come from tourism, agriculture and trade. Heraklion’s airport Nikos Kazantzakis is the second busiest in Greece behind Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos while the city’s port is connected with Piraeus and other islands. Heraklion was Europe’s fastest growing tourism destination in 2017.
The city’s long history is divided into eight time periods and its name was changed accordingly several times by its conquers:
Heraklion (Roman period, Ottoman Empire, Cretan State, Greece), Heraklia, Kastro (Eastern Roman Empire - Byzantine), Rabḍ al-ḫandaq (Arabs), Khandax (Byzantine period, during Arab occupation), Megalo Kastro (Cretans), Candida (Latins), Candia (Venetians, Europeans– at that time Crete was also known as Regno di Candia), Chora (Cretans), Piazza, Kandiye (Ottoman Empire). The city’s ancient name Heraklion was finally restored in the 19th century.
Heraklion is located in the same place where in antiquity the westernmost of the three ports of Knossos was. During the Minoan civilization Heraklion had the largest population in Crete bearing its name in honour of the ancient sanctuary of Heracles.
Science & Education
The School of Exact Sciences and Health Sciences of the University of Crete which was founded in 1976, is home to the Institute of Technology and Research (ITE-FORTH), one of the largest research centers in Greece. Heraklion is the home of the Hellenic Mediterranean University (EL.ME. PA.) as well.
Heraklion has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and cool summers, but with high minimum daily temperatures. The average maximum temperature during the summer reaches 28-30 °C. Daily deviation of maximum - minimum temperature during the year is on average less than 10 °C.
Heraklion was one of the host cities of the 2004 Olympic Games (football tournament). Heraklion also played host to the FIBA Men's U19 World Basketball Championship twice, in 2015 and in 2019. The main sports facilities of the city are: