Heraklion, Crete

Morosini Fountain at Venizelou Square. This popular meeting spot is simply called “Lions” by locals.

Heraklion is named for the divine Greek hero Heracles, son of Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene. It’s the largest port city on the beautiful island of Crete. During our visit, we spent considerable time in the fascinating Minoan Collection of the Archaeological Museum taking in the well-preserved antiquities from the vibrant, artistic, nature-loving people who settled Crete as early as 3500 BC. The museum is famous for the masterpieces of Minoan art that make up its prehistoric collection, and it did not disappoint.

The enigmatic “Phaistos Disc” is inscribed with 45 pictorial signs arranged in different combinations of 61 groups. Made of clay, the disc is believed to contain a hymn or something magic, but experts have been unable to decipher its true meaning. It’s believed to be from the early 17th century BC.
“The Ladies in Blue” have become somewhat symbolic of Crete. Their rich dress and lavish jewels reflect the opulence and prosperity of the royal court. Their fresco was found in the Knossos Palace 1600-1450 BC.
“Prince of the Lilies” was part of a larger mural in high relief. He’s the personification of religious and secular authority. 1600-1450 BC.
The high-relief fresco of a griffin, with body, tail, and hind legs of a lion, head and wings of an eagle, and front feet of eagle’s talons, is believed to be from 1600-1450BC.
“La Parisienne,” with her vivid makeup and intricate hairstyle, was likely a priestess. Her fresco was found in the Knossos Palace 1450-1300 BC.
“The Bull Leaper” is a graceful ivory figurine of a bull-leaper. His elongated limbs indicate the tension and direction of the leaper’s effort. This is believed to be a very early attempt to represent three-dimensional space. 1600-1450 BC
Kamares ware is a distinctive Cretan pottery dating back to 1450 BC
This kamanare is a fine example of hemispherical cups with walls
so thin they were named “eggshellware”
This stone bull’s head is considered a masterpiece of Minoan art. It would have been used as a liquid vessel, with holes in the neck for filling and the snout for pouring. 1600-1450 BC
These beautiful snake goddesses are from the temple repositories. They symbolize fertility, goodness, and nature. 1650-1550.
This small rhyton made of rock crystal is a piece of artistic and technical perfection. The oval body is made from a single piece of the extremely hard stone. The neck is attached by a ring of crystal beads and gilded ivory discs. The raised handle is also crystal beads threaded into a bronze wire. 1500-1450 BC
These over-sized bronze double-axes, found stored in a room of a very large building, were used for cult purposes. They’re thought to have been used as display objects with religious symbolism.
1500-1450 BC.
A Minoan crypt containing some remains
“The Draughtboard” served as a very early game board with inlaid ivory (likely from Syria), blue glass paste, and rock crystal plated with good and silver. The large conical gaming pieces sit alongside the board. This complex, luxurious artifact bears witness to the high standard of living in the palace where this was found. 1700-1450 BC

These are just a few of the Minoan treasures that captured our attention during this delightful museum visit, after which we spent some time exploring Heraklion’s Old Town.

Market Street
Venetian loggia turned Town Hall
Local restaurant
This sweet image of a pappous using the fountain rim to teach his grandson balance made us miss our grandkids.

And it wouldn’t be a Greek town without a few Orthodox churches. This one is named for the first Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Crete. St. Titus was a disciple of St. Paul who is said to have preached in Crete in 62-63 AD.

The skull of St. Titus is enshrined in a special room. Orthodox Christians venerate relics as part of their worship.

Heraklion, with its ancient Minoan roots, is a beautiful, vibrant city. We topped off our visit with traditional Greek coffee and baklava while watching the world go by.

Enjoying some music and our Greek coffee and baklava near the Lion

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