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Heraklion, or is it Heraklio, Irakleion, Iraklion or Iraklio? "Confused? Well this variation in spelling is because the translation from the Greek language to the English language is not an exact science. Many letters in the Greek alphabet do not translate exactly to a letter in the English alphabet. So mapmakers, road sign writers, and guidebook authors translate the Greek alphabet place names to what they believe is a phonetic counterpart in the English language."
The spelling of Crete place names can confuse. EG for Heraklion you may see it as Heraklio, Irakleion, Iraklion or Iraklio. Chania can be spelt as Hania or Xania, Agios Nikolaos or Ayios Nikolaos?
All of those spellings can appear on road signs within a few kilometres of each other.
We had approx 1½ hours up our sleeve and thought we could have a little look around the capital city. However parking is just as much of a nightmare here as it is everywhere else. The searching took up most of the time so we had to be satisfied with what we saw from the car.
"Koules" - The Fortress at the Sea
The site was possibly first fortified by the Arabs in the 9th or 10th centuries. By the second Byzantine period, a tower known as Castellum Comunis stood on the site. In 1303, the tower was destroyed in an earthquake but was repaired.
In 1462, the Venetian Senate approved a programme to improve the fortifications of Candia. Eventually, the Byzantine tower was demolished in 1523, and the Castello a Mare began to be built instead. Old ships were filled with stone, and were sunk to form a breakwater and increase the area of the platform on which the fortress was built. The fortress was completed in 1540.
In 1630, the fort was armed with 18 cannons on the ground floor, and 25 cannons on the pathway leading to the roof.
During the 21-year long Siege of Candia, Ottoman batteries easily neutralized the fort's firepower. The Ottomans eventually took the fort in 1669, after the Venetians surrendered the entire city. They did not make any major alterations to the fort, except for the additions of some battlements and embrasures. They built a small fort known as Little Koules on the landward side, but this was demolished in 1936 while the city was being "modernized".
The fortress has been restored, and it is now open to the public. Art exhibitions and cultural activities are occasionally held at the fort.
2 standard 737s with minimal leg room. Both short flights, Crete to Athens 45mins and Athens to Rhodes 35mins. For the poor lady sitting next to me it was fortunate that the second flight was only 35 mins. The turbulence was the worst that either JV or I have ever encountered. My fellow passenger blessed herself 4 times after we landed.
When we retrieved my 2 bags from the carousel I noticed that both of my Q tags were gone. Interesting!!!
We picked up another car from Auto Union - Brand new Fiat Panda and drove straight to the Sheraton. We were upgraded to a larger room, free drink from the bar at the private beach, and a small bottle of honey wine along with some typical Greek sweets plus a bowl of fruit were waiting for us in our room. All rooms come with breakfast so we also received 1,000 pts. Staff are lovely and going out of their way to make our stay comfortable.
Our first day in Rhodes we spent at the old city. According to some, this is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe and is World Heritage listed.
There are a few parking areas marked on the map and we didn't have any trouble finding a spot to park in one of these areas. The Concierge at the hotel said that parking is "pay and display", however it was not obvious where to pay or even if payment is required.
We asked a few people, that seemed to be in the know, and the answer was consistently "FREE". It wasn't until we asked at the Bus Ticket office that we discovered that in fact you do need to pay €1.50 per hour and she directed us to the machine. We paid enough to cover us to 2pm, and the time suddenly jumped to 5pm. We learnt later that all parking is FREE from 2pm to 5pm!
€10 pass purchased from the Archeological Museum will give you entry to:
1. Our Lady of the Castle Church
2. The Archeological Museum
3. The Palace of the Grand Masters
4. The Decorative Arts Collection
The Archeological Museum - absolutely worth a visit. The building was originally the Hospital of the Knights Hospitaller Order of Saint John (1309-1522).
Relief plaque depicting a hunting scene. Found at the excavation of the Roman Tetrapylon in the city of Rhodes. Depicted is a rider attacking with his spear a feline. A second human figure holding a club, ready to join in the attack, is just discernible at the right. The landscape is suggested by the two trees and the bird on a branch.
Marble, Late Hellenistic period
Arms of the Order of St John flanked on either side by those of grand master Juan Fernandez de Heredia (1377-1396)
Attic vase in the shape of a female head. On the handle inscription in white paint with the potter's signature: Midas made me.
There are hundreds of artifacts on display ranging from 950BC to 300BC.
Mosaic floor with representation of a Centaur
The anatomical details of the fabulous creature are emphasized with rough lines of bluish pebbles. The panel is framed by a wave band, the outline of which is delineated with fine lead strips. Similar strips emphasize the outline of the light-and-dark leaves on the wreath on the Centaur's head, as well as his eye and eyebrow. Around the mosaic there is a raised platform accommodating 7 dining couches, which is interrupted by the plain entrance panel.
Andron mosaic floor with representation of a Triton
The floor was found in 1972, underneath the early christian basilica in the western part of the city (Hadjiandreaou pilot. Meimarras and P. Mela St). 1st third of 3rd century BC.
A mansion occupied by a local family for a couple of centuries is incorporated in the museum.
The Clock Tower, views from the top of the Tower and a stop off at the bar on the way down . The cost is €5 per person which gives access to the clock tower and also provides you with a glass of wine or a beer. Good value we thought, I chickened out with climbing the Tower, however +1 was keen.
We had a lovely meal at a taverna within the city, Golden Olympiade, situated under a really beautiful tree.
The ambiance is lovely, staff were efficient and the meal was served quickly. This Rosé was particularly nice, at least for our palette. Sorry forgot to take photos of our meal.
The old city has such a lot of charm. Highly recommend a visit here. Allow a couple of days.