The seaside resort of Hersonissos is officially the Port of Hersonissos (Greek: Λιμένας Χερσόνησου, Liménas Chersónisou) in distinction to the village of Upper Hersonissos (Greek: Άνω Χερσόνησος, Ano Chersónisos) further inland. Through tourism, the port town developed from the small harbour which served the original village, now known as Old Hersonissos.
The ancient town of Chersonesus was important enough in the Roman province of Creta et Cyrenaica early to become a Christian bishopric, a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Gortyna.
The names of some of its bishops appear in extant documents: Anderius took part in the Council of Ephesus in 431; Longinus in the Robber Council of 449; Euphratas was a signatory of the letter sent by the bishops of the province to the emperor Leo I the Thracian in 458 after the killing of Proterius of Alexandria; Sisinnius was at the Trullan Council in 692; and another Sisinnius at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
After the Venetian conquest of Crete in 1212, the existing dioceses, such as Chersonesus, were administered by Latin Church bishops.
The line of residential Latin bishops of Chersonesus ended with the conquest of Crete by the Ottomans in 1669.
No longer a residential bishopric, Chersonnesus in Creta is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular bishopric, as such nominally restored in 1787 under the name Chersonesus, changed in 1933 to Chersonesus in Creta, avoiding confusing with other Latin sees called Chersonesus.
It is vacant, having had the following incumbents, all of the lowest (episcopal)rank : to processKarel Otčenášek (1950.03.30 – 1989.12.21) (later Archbishop)*
•Titular Bishop: Bishop Antonio Cardona Riera (later Archbishop) (1928.03.10 – 1950.02.02) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Rafael Balanzá y Navarro (1923.08.13 – 1928.03.02) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Marc Chatagnon (沙), M.E.P. (1887.01.25 – 1920.11.26) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Johann Theodor Laurent (1839.09.17 – 1884.02.20) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Viktor Franz Anton von Glutz-Ruchti (1820.05.29 – 1824.10.09) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Ambrosi de Magistris (1818.10.02 – ?) •Titular Bishop: Bishop Johann Casimir von Häffelin (later Cardinal)* (1787.09.28 – 1818.04.06)
The municipality of Hersonissos was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 4 former municipalities, that became municipal units:Episkopi
The municipality has an area of 272.167 km2 (105.084 sq mi), the municipal unit 70.984 km2 (27.407 sq mi).
At the modern settlement of Hersonissos is the site of the ancient town of Chersonesos, an important seaport from Classical Greece through Byzantine times that served the city of Lyttos. The contemporaneous pleasure port is built over the remains of the Roman port. Some traces of those remains, most of them submerged, are still visible in some places. On the seaside street there is a pyramidal Roman fountain with mosaics of fishing scenes. On the top of the rocky hill behind the port stand the ruins of an early Christian basilica with floor mosaics.
The vicinity of Hersonissos is noted for its prehistoric archaeological finds. On the coast approximately one kilometer to the east of Hersonissos was an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Britomartis.
William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography states:
'CHERSONE'SUS (Χερσόνησος) ... the haven of Lyctus, with a temple of Britomartis. 16 M P. from Cnossus. Robert Pashley found ruins close to a little port on the shore, and the actual names of the villages Khersónesos and Episcopianó, indicate that here is to be found what was once the ancient port of Lyctus, and afterwards became an Episcopal city.
The episcopal see associated with this town is now a titular see ("Chersonesus in Creta") of the Catholic Church.
Agriana village is located 1 km south of Analipsi village and just 2 km from the sea, at the beginning of Hersonissos Municipality inland and at an altitude of 92 m. It is built in a huge area of olive trees and next to the Potamos Aposelemis Gorge. Its unique location offers a combination of wild beauty and a deep relaxing atmosphere. Entering the village you will meet the square of the village, its traditional taverns offer traditional and local delights and drinks and its picturesque café offers refreshing drinks under the shade of olive trees and white berry trees. During the summer time a number of events take place in the village with the one of Panagia celebration standing out, there villagers and visitors listen to the church ministry and afterwards gather in the square, where to the sounds of traditional music, together feast on local delights and drinks by dancing till the early morning hours. The village is an ideal family destination as well as a place to be for the lovers of photography, with exceptional places to visit and photograph.
Analipsi village is located 20 km east of Heraklion city, on the coastline of Hersonissos Municipality, and took its name from the homonymous church of Analipsi of Christ, that is located in the centre of the village. With magnificent frescoes decorating its inside and a beautiful courtyard, the church during the summer time, hosts a number of events and celebrations. Locals are known for their Cretan hospitality, where with small or big hotel facilities and rooms to let, welcome visitors in a family friendly atmosphere with a relaxing environment and perfect tourist services. Across the village visitors will find hotels, rooms to let, rent a car and bike shops, as well as jewellery shops, super and mini markets, pharmacy and bakery traditional product shops that will provide everything. Continuing you will come to the square of the village, paved with cobblestones, and in its centre stands a big palm tree next to the Hrwo monument, built in honours of the local Heroes, that fought for the liberation from the German invaders during WW2. Moving on you will see the Agia Marina church by the beach, where on the 17th of July every year a big celebration takes place on the beach with food, drinks and dancing till the early hours. Analipsi is an ideal destination for family vacations, a must visit place for everyone that loves photography who will be impressed by its picturesque alleyways, traditional stone built houses and the magical site of its coastline with crystal clear waters and sandy beaches.
Anissaras village is located 24 km east of Heraklion city and just 1 km west of Hersonissos town; it spreads along the Hersonissos Municipality coastline. The Anissaras area is a hillside terrain and offers a small but remarkable range of hotel facilities in the all inclusive sector, with affordable rates, easy and fast access. The magnificent and beautiful beaches that spread along its coastline are a short distance away from the main road and are fully organized with courts and areas for tennis, volley and water sports. Crystal clear waters hug its beaches with rocky sea depths that will impress all swimmers and scuba diving lovers, as well as sandy beaches with shallow water available for sunbathing and relaxation, for all visitors to enjoy. The nightlife choices of Anissaras are limited but the alternative of Hersonissos’ more thrilling nightlife is available due to its close proximity and its range of bars, pubs and clubs. This village is clearly a family destination with magical sea sites that will satisfy the lovers of photography and relaxation.
Ano Hersonissos village is located south of Hersonissos town. It is a small traditional Cretan village unlike that of Limenas Hersonisou which is known as a clearly tourist destination. The local villagers are involved in agricultural production and tourism, and as a result visitors will enjoy local delights and products in its traditional and picturesque taverns, cafes and traditional products shops in the village. Even though the village has been influenced by tourism it keeps its traditional character with old sealed wells, stone built houses and picturesque alleyways that lead to a beautiful square where during the summertime, locals and visitors gather in order to celebrate with traditional music dance and feast on local delights till the early morning hours. In conclusion, visitors will be impressed by the Cretan hospitality of the local villagers and the magical beauty of the villages’ position up the mountainside, overlooking Hersonissos and the bay of Hersonissos.
Avdou village lies deep in the middle of the Lagada valley, 33 km from the city of Heraklion. It is adorned by remarkable historical monuments of Byzantine art, ancient cultural roots, archaeological findings and samples of the first civilization of Europe. The Antonios Xanthoudis museum is operating in the centre of the village, as well as a number of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches such as Agios Konstantinos, whose frescoes are dated back to the 15th century. An artificial lake lies next to the village, created after the Aposelemis dam was constructed.
Gonies village is located 35 km southeast of Heraklion city and just 2 km from Avdou village, on the west side of Selenas Mountain, deep in the inland of Hersonissos Municipality and at an altitude of 260m. The position of this village, offers a magical view of Avdou village and a vast wooded area, as well as the two gorges of Panagia and Roza that spread on the left and right side of Gonies. The Agios Georgios square is located in the centre of the village, at an altitude of 262 m, it is marble paved with and benches, the plane trees and cypresses offer plenty of shade for every visitor to enjoy. Furthermore, the churches of the village, dated back to the middle 18th and early 19th century, witness the strong bond with the Christian Orthodox Church, characteristic examples being those of Agios Georgios, Agia Triada and Panagia of Maxa churches decorated with magnificent and enviable frescoes. The windmills in the area of Gonies prove the long tradition of agricultural production of the village since the 17th century, which is maintained to this day with the production of virgin olive oil, exceptional quality local wine and recherché dairy products. The gorges of the area are located a short distance away from the settlement and a characteristic example is the gorge of Roza, its entrance is just 600 m southeast of Gonies at an altitude of 330 m. During the summer time, the village is well known for its events that mostly take place in the Agios Georgios square, the Panagia celebration on the 15th of August stands out. Locals and visitors attend the religious ceremony and afterwards feast on local delights and drinks to the sounds of traditional music and dance till the early morning hours.
Kera village is located 50 km southeast of Heraklion city and 25 km south of Hersonissos, deep in the inland of Hersonissos Municipality. It is the last village within the municipality limits, at an altitude of 680 m. Due to its position; the village offers a wild and at the same time impressive atmosphere, with a number of worthwhile visiting points like the Minoan Settlement of Karfi. The settlement took its name from a huge nail like shaped rock that stands above it, and is dated at 1050 BC. The Panagia Kardiotisa Monastery is just a breath away from the village and is a very important religious monument not only for the area of Kera but also for Crete itself, magnificent and enviable frescoes decorates the interior of the church. The local villagers, traditionally, used to be millers but through the passing years and technological breakthrough, this occupation came at an end and they turned to olive oil production, as a result today they are well known for their exceptional quality olive oil. Concluding, Kera with its picturesque alleyways, its traditional cafes and its hospitable villagers is the place to be for everyone that seeks relaxation in combination with the unique panoramic views that this place offers.
Koutouloufari village is located right above the town of Hersonissos, just 1 km away. It is known for its traditional architecture, an amphitheatrically like village that combined with the cobblestone paved streets, offers an outstanding feeling for every visitor. Its traditional taverns serve Cretan traditional dishes, amongst other cuisines, and provides a quiet and rather romantic atmosphere with the mountain side view down Hersonissos town and coastline. Cretan nights with traditional music and dancing will be carved in the memory of every visitor as a magical experience.
Port of Hersonissos is located in the town of Hersonissos, a beautiful Mediterranean seaside town where visitors can also see Dia island. A magical view of the port can be seen during the night hours highlighted by lights along its coastline. Visitors also can admire the Roman remains, built and maintained during the Roman age. The Roman Theatre, the Sarakino fountain and the Roman Aqueduct create a spectacular and magnificent site for every visitor.
Piskopiano village is located 2 km south of Hersonissos Port, on the side of Xarakas Mountain, and is a clearly traditional settlement, where its villagers are into agricultural production and livestock, producing exceptional dairy products as well as a uniquely famous olive oil. Every visitor can buy, taste and enjoy these products in the local traditional cafes and taverns that spread throughout the village. The picturesque alleyways of the village and the stone houses complete a magical and beautiful image of the traditional rhythm of Cretan village life that makes it a destination for all photography lovers who will also be impressed by the panoramic view of its position. Piskopiano is a family destination with a relaxing atmosphere, which is a short distance away from the beach side of Port of Hersonissos.
Potamies village is located 10 km south of Hersonissos Port, in the inland of Hersonissos Municipality, at an altitude of 170 m and is built on the right side of Aposelemis River. The local villagers are involved in agricultural production; in particular they produce exceptional olive oil and horticultural products. The village is surrounded by fertile soils with olive trees, citrus trees and the wild flora of the river, also there are overgrown hills full of olive trees, oleanders, cypresses, walnuts and pomegranate trees. Close by, visitors will find the Byzantine Monastery of Panagia Gouverniotisa and the Roman Water bridges, which used to provide Hersonissos town with water. The picturesque alleyways and the traditional taverns and cafes of the village, in combination with the local hospitality and the unique quality local agricultural products, offer an ideal family destination that will be unforgettable for every visitor.
Sfendili settlement is located 8 km southwest of Malia town, at an altitude of 202 m. It is an uninhabited settlement, since the construction of the Aposelemis River Barrage. The still standing Agios Mamas church is a small but significant church with an elaborate interior that is decorated with enviable frescoes, made exclusively out of stone in 1841, as mentioned at its entrance. The settlement is an ideal destination for a walk around to photograph the traditional houses, and picturesque alleyways as well as the magical panoramic view.
Hersonissos Municipality offers a wide range for adventurous visitors such as scuba diving, horse riding, hiking and paragliding. Diving centres are on the coastline of the municipality. Horse riding schools are in or near the main towns or are situated in the mountains, providing a variety of venues for horse riding. Get the adrenalin going with some paragliding or rock climbing events.
The Cave of Agia Foteini is located 7 km south of Avdou village. According to Christian Orthodox Church archives, this cave was opened by the Virgin Mary herself in order for Agia Foteini to have an isolated retreat, enabling her to devote to God. This cave has a length of 44 m, width of 1.8-7.5 m and height of 5.3–20 m, however the total length of its corridors, reaches a total expanse of 700 m.
The only golf course in Crete and one of the most spectacular in the Mediterranean. It offers a unique experience to visitors, with a total area of 720 m2 the Crete Golf Club has a mountain style layout and at the same time provides an ideal venue for international tournaments.
Gorge of Roza is an uphill route of 2,750 m, with an elevation difference of 300 m. It is a relatively easy route with a few difficult spots. The gorge is open from April till November. The wild beauty of its flora and fauna will be carved in the memory of every visitor. A magical and breathtaking view throughout the route concludes a once in a lifetime experience
A Cretan open-air Museum Lychnostatis was created in order to inform, educate and promote visitors to Cretan folk cultural heritage through its outstanding collection of folk tradition and ethnology, nature, environment, as well as Cretan folk art and pre-industrial technology.
Just 1.5 km away from the town of Hersonissos lays Piskopiano village, where in a traditional stone building restored by the Cretan Historical Studies Society, is the Menelaos Parlamas Museum. The museum houses a collection of traditional pre-industrial age tools and machinery related, in particular, to textile weaving and agriculture, donated by Theano Metaxa. The building itself is the original olive oil mill of the village. A ‘‘must see’’ collection for visitors.
On a hillside above Potamies village, lays the Panagia Gouverniotisa Monastery, which is dated from the second half of the 14th century. The monastery is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is not functional as far as holy sacraments and functions, its facilities are preserved carefully and are accessible for visitors. It is a majestic and significant Christian monument.
Panagia Kardiotissa of Kera is a historical monastery and is located in a wooded area 50 km southeast of Heraklion, in the village Kera which is named after the monastery. During WW2 this monastery was used by the Greek Liberation Army as a starting point. Today it functions as a nunnery and inside the monastery is a wealth of frescoes dated back to the 14th century.
Hersonissos Municipality has three major water parks, Star Beach, Water City and Aqua Plus. All of them offer to the visitor adventurous water games, relaxing water routes and stations as well as entertaining concerts of every kind. An enjoyable experience for couples, families and individual visitors. A variety of food outlets are situated within the complexes.