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Heraklion Museum Guide

Being the capital city, and also sitting in close proximity to the excavated Knossos Palace the city of Heraklion has some amazing museums and points of interest that you can view throughout the year.

This is a brief guide to the main museums of Heraklion and what they specialise in covers only the basics, more information regarding each museum can be found at the official website's or within the Crete community forums.

Please note there are many more smaller museums and points of interest within the prefecture and city of Heraklion, some of these will be covered in the coming months including the museum of Nikos Kazantzakis.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion houses the most important and representative finds of the Minoan civilization mainly from Knossos Palace.  The the museum today has in all, twenty rooms containing artefacts from the palaces, houses, tombs and caves of Crete. The exhibition of the Museum is organized in chronological order, ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman era (4th century AD) and geographically, according to the provenance of the finds.

There are several groups of finds exhibited in separate rooms:
1. All the LM III sarcophagi are displayed in Room XIII, the Minoan frescoes in Rooms XIV-XVI and the sculptures, relief's, statues and architectural parts, in Rooms XIX-XX.
2. The S Giamalakis collection, which was bought by the Greek State in 1962, is now on display in Room XVII.
3. A collection of inscriptions is exhibited in a fenced, sheltered open space opposite the Museum.
4. The archaeological collection of Archanes.
5. The "Glyptotheke" of Gortyn, is exhibited at the archaeological site of Gortyn

Municipal Museum of The Battle of Crete

This museum houses an exhibition of documents of the period 1941-1945, on the occasion of the celebration on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Crete 1941. It is housed in a large room in a building in the centre of the town.

Among the Museum's exhibits are thousands of authentic photographs, paintings and drawings of the Battle of Crete and the national resistance, about two hundred books, monographs, essays on the historic events from 1941 to 1945, hundreds of documents and a great many newspaper cuttings. The Museum also includes a variety of objects related to the War (arms, accessories, uniforms, items of everyday use, etc.)

In addition, the museum also operates as a research centre thanks to a team of researchers and scientists who have undertaken to collect archive material from ten countries, to translate War documents of the 1940-1945 period, as well as to write about the Battle of Crete.

Historical Museum of Crete

The Museum is housed in a neoclassical building belonging to the Philanthropic Institutions of A & M Kalokairinou. It was designed by L Kantantzoglou and built in 1870, in the site of an older mansion. It was fired upon by the Turkish during the events of August 25, 1898 and was reconstructed in 1903.

It has been declared a Historical Building and a Work of Art and protected with a preservation order. Its entrance is a marble porch and columns made of porous stone. The windows on the facade of the ground floor and the south part of the east and west walls are crowned by arched lintels and framed by caryatids (Hermae) supporting a pediment. The rest of the windows have plain, rectangular frames.

The north side of the building is modelled as a "scarpa" following the Venetian model.
A Neoclassical fence encloses the courtyard on the south side of the building. The interior is decorated with friezes depicting scenes from the Iliad and the Odyssey.
In it’s current form (19 rooms, 2 court yards, library etc.) is a combination of neoclassical and modern architecture. The works of expansion began in 1989 and were completed in 1997.
There is a brief rundown of the contents of the museum is below:

1. Byzantine-Mediaeval collection, Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish sculptures and inscriptions, wall paintings (13th-16th c), sacred vessels and vestments, coins, jewellery and miniature work of the Byzantine and Venetian period. Also the only existing painting in Crete by Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) entitled "View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery".
2. Historical Collection: Relics of the Cretan revolutions of the 19th century and of the Cretan State (1898-1913). Flags, arms, portraits of heroes of the patriotic struggles, jewellery, engravings, furniture, costumes, maps, mementoes. Also historic documents and a collection of photographs.
3. Folk Art Collection: Hundreds of representative samples of Cretan folk art (woven and embroidered articles, Lace, costumes, jewellery, miniature work, musical instruments etc). Reproduction of the interior of an old Cretan rural house.
4. Nikos Kazantzakis Room: the desk, library, personal mementoes and manuscripts of many of the works of the great writer.
5. Tsouderos Room: the desk, library and personal mementoes of the Prime Minister of the Battle of Crete, engravings, maps, rare editions and a collection of Cretan postage stamps.

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