Heraklion (Greek Ηρακλειον, also transliterated as Heraklio, Iraklion or Irakleio) is the major city and capital of the largest Greek island of Crete. Its Archaeological Museum holds the remains of the 3000-year old Minoan civilization, which grew aroud the nearby legendary palace of Knossos (of Minotaur fame), as well as Byzantine churches and a well-preserved Venetian wall and fortress from the 15th century.
Heraklion is an industrialised city of around 155,000 residents. The modern city has been disfigured by a lack of any comprehensive planning or any serious commitment to preservation, which has resulted in a traffic-choked urban horror overlaying historical remains of potentially immense interest, but the knowledgeable visitor will still be able to trace the past under the ugly urban sprawl of the present. However, in recent years, things have began to change and efforts are being made to bring out the beauty of the city’s rich cultural history. The core of the city is still enclosed and defined by the Venetian wall, which includes seven outjutting bastions. In the southernmost of these, the Martinengo Bastion, is the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, standing on a windswept hilltop with its moving inscription, “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”