Crete lies at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 8,335 square kilometers.
The island of Crete is a periphery of Greece, consisting of four prefectures:
Prefecture of Heraklion
The Prefecture of Heraklion lies in the central eastern part of Crete. It borders the prefectures of Lassithi to the east and Rethymnon to the west, abutting the Cretan Sea in the north and the Libyan Sea in the south. Heraklion Prefecture covers 2.641 square kilometers and has as its capital the City of Heraklion. In the census of 2001 the prefecture contained 26 municipalities, 194 municipal districts and 460 villages. The prefecture terrain is mostly plain and semi- mountainous. So far it is the most economically developed prefecture of Crete and one of the most productive of Greece.
Heraklion is the capital of Crete and one of the Mediterranean region's most fascinating and vibrant cities. It is full of places to discover. With the current efforts to open up the wonderful mediaeval city centre, it speaks to us of a past full of history and great events that reflect its location at the crossroads of three continents.
The city is also the commercial and technological centre of the island. It has a strategic geopolitical position in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea connecting three continents and many different cultures.
It offers a wealth of museums, a summer-long arts festival, historical sightseeing, amazing nightlife and events throughout the year. Whatever the purpose of your visit, your stay in Heraklion will be one to remember.
History is very much alive in Iraklion just like in most Greek cities. The central square while surrounded by cafes, stores and restaurants, is dominated by the fountain of the Lions, built by Morozini the venetian governor in 1628.The Town Hall, is today housed in the Venetian Loggia, a building from the same era. At the end of the central market is a coffee house, housed at the "Koubes" a fountain built by the Turks . All around the old part of the city ,a visitor can walk following the old Venetian walls that meet at a bastion, called "Koules", that dominates the old harbour of the city .
The visitor to Iraklion should definitely visit the archaeological site at Knossos and the Archaelogical Museum of Iraklion that houses most of the Minoan findings in Crete. Special attention should also be paid to the Historical museum of Iraklion that houses findings from the early Christian era to today and the Museum of Natural History.
On the north coast of Crete and to the east of Heraklion, this municipality spreads from the lovely beaches a few kilometers inland to the fertile fields and picturesque villages that cling to the different hills. In recent years, the tourist development has been very marked in this area, due on the one hand to its wonderful beaches, on the other hand, to its vicinity to Heraklion to the west and Hersonissos a few kilometers to the east.
Nowadays, the summer resorts of Kato Gouves, Gournes, Kokkini Hani, Amnissos and Karteros have a complete tourist infrastructure to meet all demands. Organized beaches, large modern hotels, family apartments, restaurants, small taverns, recreation centers, sports centre, shops, car and motorbikes for rent, small ports (marinas) for small boats, in a word they provide everything our visitors require to spend an agreeable and carefree holiday, enjoying the sunshine by day and the thrilling night-life in the numerous bars in the area. At a short distance inland you can escape the lively racket of tourist life and find peace and quiet in a traditional setting. Picturesque villages, important monuments, lovely monasteries.
Located on the road from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos. Gournes is a coastal village of 1500 permanent residents. The name (gourna= basin) probably derives from the watering places that used to be there years ago. Gournes is mentioned with this name since 1280 but later it was abandoned because it was on the road of the numerous invaders to the eastern Crete. Excavations carried out in 1945 unearthed tombs of the Minoan period with many significant findings. Nowadays Gournes is practically a popular tourist resort together with Kokkini Hani providing all the modern facilities to the visitors.