The Prefecture of Heraklion lies in the central eastern part of Crete. It borders the prefectures of Lasithi 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.
The great civilization that sprung from Cretan earth left some splendid illustrations of its material and intellectual wealth. Long-lasting archaeological and historical research has brought to light rare archaeological discoveries and monuments which comprise the rich history of our region.
The Prefecture Heraklion presents great mythological, archaeological and historical significance. Here, according to a variation of the myth, the Princess Europa was transported from Finiki,, accompanied by Zeus transformed as a bull. Here, according to writer of myths Diodoros, the goddess Athena was born. Here also, Zeus got married with his sister Hera.
Within the prefecture, the Minoan culture developed with its wide ranging influence taking a privileged place throughout the entire Mediterranean zone.
The strategic place of the prefecture, as the central (and highly fertile) department of the island, stirred always the ambitious aspirations of various neighbouring populations. This place has been marked by hard battles of conquests that began after the Late Minoan period and have ended with the Union of Crete with Greece in 1913.
The prefecture Heraklion is found at the crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations and has a rich historical past which shaped its heavy cultural heritage.
Museums, archaeological cites, historical landscapes and churches adorn the prefecture of Heraklion, offering a valuable insight in its long and turbulent history.
Cretan cultural heritage is a source of wealth that enriches the expression of culture in modern society. This section aims to present a combination of traditional and contemporary culture as it is lived today. From technological advances to the continuation of traditional arts and crafts, from traditional costumes and music to today’s forms of leisure and cultural activities, it will become clear that the Prefecture of Heraklion offers a great variety of cultural events, looking forward but without losing its national identity.
In Crete the inhospitable, barren and austere mountainous landscape is wedded harmoniously, under the sunny blue sky, with fertile green plains, blond sandy beaches, and crystal clear sea water.
The landscape of the prefecture is mainly plain and semi-mountainous. Mountainous are the two extremities of the prefecture, the eastern and the western, nearing the borders of the prefectures of Lasithi and Rethymnon. Between them extends a semi-mountainous region with mountain peaks lower than 1.000 metres. The most extensive lowland of Crete is the fertile plain of Messara, located between the central mountains of the prefecture and Kofinas mountain. More important rivers in the south of the prefecture are Geropotamos (old river) and Anapodaris that flow into the Libyan sea. The prefecture is washed on the north by Cretan Sea and on the south by Libyan Sea.
Crete is a popular holiday destination attracting a high number of visitors every year especially in the summer.
The prefecture of Heraklion has the highest number of hotels compared with the rest of Cretan prefectures and attracts an even higher number of visitors every year.
The Prefecture of Heraklion aims at the expansion of tourism, especially that of eco and agro-tourism, including promotion of winter holidays, further development of infrastructure and new forms of activities such as sailing, yachting, hiking, etc.
Due to its geographic position, mild climate, unique natural environment, archeological cites, museums, and vibrant night life, prefecture of Heraklion is well positioned in becoming a high quality all year holiday destination.