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  • A walk on the venetian wallsA walk on the venetian walls© Cretazine
Crete as we Live it

A walk on the Venetian walls of Heraklion

The Venetian walls of Heraklion surround the old city, Chandax. What most people don’t know (including locals) is that these walls constitute the largest fortification work of the Mediterranean. It will not be hard to find them, however you may wonder where to begin your walk on them! 

Cretazine Tips

- The Venetian Gates are open to the public only on weekdays and from 08:00 to 14:00

- Across the little park of Makasi Arcade you see the new ‘monstrous’ Cultural and Conference Center of Heraklion, contrasting the low houses of the old district. 

- Across the Gate of Bethlehem there is an impressive old building. It is the old hospital of Pananeio, yet another neglected monument of Heraklion. 

- For more historical information on the Venetian walls, gates and arcades visit the section ‘what to see’

 
Published in  City Routes

Visit historical Gates and Arcades and enjoy a view from above! 

There are several alternative routes on the walls of Heraklion, depending on the time you have, your mood, or interest. The one we propose combines a relaxing walk with a view and a visit to some of the most important historical spots.

Start from  ‘Eleftherias’ Square (Freedom Square), where, once upon a time, the Gate of Agios Georgios existed, one of the three main entrance gates. Today you cannot see its exterior façade (it was demolished in 1917), nor the three arches of the Morosini aqueduct.  What is left are the two entrances to the arcade (one from the square and another on the downhill road opposite the archaeological museum) that lead to a domed chamber with natural light where cultural events and exhibitions take place. After visiting the arcade, move towards Vitouri Gate, hidden behind the narrow lanes across ‘Eleftherias’ Square under a modern building. Take the uphill street between the parking lot and Georgiadis Park until you reach the playground at the end. The entrance of the gate is under the (pink) building right of the dirt road that leads to another parking lot. Go down the stairs and cross the first arcade into the open square and then continue to the second arcade that leads to the trench, where yet another parking lot is now located. Now you can see the wall in all its glory, including the viewpoint where the wall’s orecchione (‘ear’) is created. You should know that the trench was not constructed to be filled with water - so don’t imagine crocodiles and other scary sea creatures were crawling here once upon a time. In periods of peace, the trench was actually used for cultivation. 

From the parking lot and exit of Vitouri Gate, take the uphill road that leads you to ‘Kenourgia Porta’ (‘New Gate’). Under its arch you will find little shops, selling bananas to army gear (!), including one of the cheapest coffee-to-go shops in town. Near the gate you will find one of the spots where the council provides bicycles for free, so if you want to take a ride later you can come back here (with an ID).  To continue your walk on the Venetian walls, you must track down the narrow cement staircase right next to the right arch of the Gate, going down from the parking lot exit. 

You will now be on the walls and over ‘Kenourgia Porta’, which is not Venetian and was actually built in the ‘70s, so that’s why it is called kenourgia (‘new’). From there you have a view of Evans Street and the traffic! There you will also see two weird ‘chimneys’ used as the air ducts of the Jesus Gate, which used to be located underneath but today only its exterior side is preserved. 

The trench was not constructed to be filled with water - so don’t imagine crocodiles and other scary sea creatures were crawling here once upon a time

Now continue walking on the pebble path and enjoy a view of the city and snowy (if its winter) Psiloritis mountain to your left. You will soon arrive in a grassy area and if you look down on the left side you will see the open theatres of N.Kazantzakis and M. Hatzidakis a bit further down the path. As you can image, this spot on the walls is quite popular when there is a concert or theatre to people who don’t want to or can’t pay for a ticket! 

When you arrive at the stadium of Ergotelis, continue straight up and take the stairs that lead to the Martinengo Bastion and the Kazantzakis tomb. Take a break on one of the benches around the tomb and enjoy the view of the Yuchtas mountain from one side and the city from the other.  Don’t stay there too long though, because you still have some gates to visit and they close at 14.00. 

Going down to the bastion, continue your route to the left and then take the stairs that lead to the main road and a small park with two Turkish buildings. Turn right and a few steps away you will meet the recently renovated Makasi Arcade.  It now houses a monument to the victims of WWII and features historical photos from the Battle of Crete. After your visit in the Arcade continue walking towards the sea, either on the walls or down the street. After crossing the Gate of ‘Kommeno Benteni’ you will meet another ‘exit’ to and from the Venetian walls that leads to the open cinema of the Gate of Bethlehem. The Cinema Club of Heraklion organizes movie nights here with classic films of world cinema. A bit further down you will arrive at the last stop of the route, the Gate of Bethlehem, which now houses an exhibition dedicated to the great Cretan painter El Greco (aka Domenikos Theotokopoulos) with replications of his work and costumes used in the shootings of a recent film depicting his life and work. 

The ‘historical’ route ends just about here. However, we suggest you continue your route on the walls until you reach the edge of the walls and enjoy a view of the sea or you can explore the old districts of Lakkos (the narrow lanes across the Gate of Bethlehem and the open cinema) and Agia Triada (across the last exit of the walls before you reach the sea).