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Brimming with history and a lively urban energy, Heraklion offers endless attractions for the visitor. Legend has it that Heraklion is where the Greek God Zeus met and fell in love with Europa, whose offspring of Minoans and sages were the founders of the earliest civilised nation in Europe. Heraklion’s ancient monuments celebrate this legend, but the city also offers plenty of modern treats. The markets and shops are filled with all kinds of things from souvenirs to delicious local delicacies. The city has some excellent old fortified walls including the Martinengo Battlements and the old gate Hanioporta. The medieval fortified wall surrounds the city and gave Heraklion the reputation as the best-defended city in the Mediterranean. The huge fortress of Koules still stands overlooking the port and is a fascinating place to explore. Heraklion also has a reputation as a fun loving city. There are plenty of festivals throughout the year, particularly the summer arts festivals with music, dance, theatre and sideshows all over the area.
There is plenty to discover around Heraklion and further into the magnificent island of Crete. West of Heraklion is the superb Cretan History Museum. Here you can see wonderful exhibits of Byzantine, Medieval and ancient artefacts as well as artwork from El Greco, who was born in Heraklion.