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July 21, 2008

The Crete Historical Museum in Iraklio

For our latest trip to the UK we flew for the first time with EasyJet from Heraklion. We blew whatever money we had saved by spending the night before staying in the Lato Boutique hotel near the harbour of Crete's capital. Apart from a comedy trip up-and-down the wheelchair access ramp, the stay was very nice indeed. They do an excellent buffet breakfast, and there is hi-speed wired internet access in the rooms. The view from our balcony covered most of Iraklio's harbour front.


We got the bus from Chania on the Saturday morning, and arrived at around lunchtime. Our room wasn't quite ready yet, so we dumped our luggage and went off for a first bit of sight-seeing, after a cooling frappe at Four Lion Square.

We'd been to Iraklio for a couple of days in 2006, so had different sights to see this time. The first of these was Crete's Historical Museum. This stands near the waterfront, and is on three levels, covering Crete from Byzantine times to the present day.


The ground floor houses the Byzantine and Venetian eras, and there are also small paintings by El Greco, and a large exhibition of Cretan folk craft.

When we were there, two temporary exhibitions featured. One was based on the life of Nikos Kazantzakis, with a multimedia installation in one room, and a timeline of his life and travels in the other. The second exhibition was called 'Fragments' and covered Crete during the difficult war years.


There was some sensational footage of German troops in action on the island, and some harrowing excerpts from the last letters and speeches of the Cretan martyrs murdered for opposing the excesses of the Nazi army in Greece.

In a particularly moving room, a slide projector looped through portraits of more than 60 Greeks killed by the Nazis in Heraklion as retaliation for acts of sabotage. Underneath the images, a glass case that appeared permanently lit with candles held some of the disparate anonymous personal effects of Greek nationals retrieved from the mass graves left in the wake of the German occupation.

The museum cost &euor;5, and was well worth it. There was also a nice little cafe on the second level, with a great view out over the sea, which would be worth remembering for days when you wanted the view, but didn't want to be out in the wind.

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