At the coast road, Sofokli Venizelou Avenue, number 27 – you will find the Historical Museum of Crete. Even if it is located just a few meters from the city center, you either have to walk by it to visit it, or to know about its existence in advance.
This museum is housed in a beautifully restored neoclassical building and was founded as a museum in 1953 by the Cretan Historical Studies Society (SCHS).
The visitors of the museum have the opportunity to admire a comprehensive view of exhibits from Cretan history, from early Christian times up to modern times.
Art lovers have the chance to admire two of Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) paintings, the Baptism of Christ and View of Mount Sinai. These are the only works by El Greco currently on Crete.
A very impressive exhibit of the museum is a 15 square meters replica of Heraklion city as it was under the Venetian Rule, (before the Ottoman occupation) in the mid 17th century.
Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek, has donated his personal belongings to the museum, just a few months prior to his death. In the museum you will find the Cretan author’s study, with his library, manuscripts of his works.
“…I will willingly give the Museum… anything valuable I have connected to my long, laborious, intellectual life. Thus preserving the cell where a Heraklion labourer of the intellect has worked for so many years …” (Letter from N. Kazantzakis to SCHS, 9th January 1957).
The museum’s collections also include a variety of ceramics, sculptures, jewellery, as well as a reconstructed Cretan rural home and many more interesting artifacts.
The H.M.C. is home to the following collections:
- Medieval and Renaissance Collection
- Struggles for Cretan Freedom
- Folklore Collection
- Nikos Kazantzakis Room
- Emmanouil Tsouderos Room
- A. G. Kalokerinos Room
- Introduction to the Christian Era on Crete
- Tour of 17th century Chandax (Heraklion)
- Ceramics Room
The Historical Museum’s Opening hours are:
Summer Opening Hours (April – October)
Monday – Saturday
Sundays & Public Holidays
Winter Opening Hours (November – March)
Monday – Saturday
Sundays & Public Holidays
Full: €5, Reduced: €3 (Children 12 and under, free admission)
Free admission days
* 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
* 18 April (International Monuments Day)
* 18 May (International Museums Day)
* The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
* National Holidays
House A. & M. Kalokerinos, 27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave. / 7, Lysimachou Kalokerinou St., 71202 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Tel. (+30)2810 / 283219, (+30)2810 / 288708 – Fax. (+30)2810 / 283754
History of the neoclassical building
The building housing the museum belongs to the Philanthropic Institutions A & M Kalokairinou.
It was originally built in 1870, where an old mansion used to be.
During the events of August 25 1898, it was fired and almost destroyed by the Turks.
In 1903, on the plans of Mr K. Tsantirakis it was reconstructed, based on the previous structure.
The 2-storeyed building has been declared as a Historical Building and a Work of Art.
- Visit to be paired with the Natural Museum of History located a few meters away
- In the garden of the Museum, there are often events organized during the summer time
- The staff of the museum is highly praised by visitors
- The museum often is host to very significant temporary exhibitions, so make sure to visit the official website prior to your visit to Heraklion.
Link for the temporary exhibitions – archive included
Read some indicative reviews from the museum’s Visitors. Published in TripAdvisor
By 46Elizabeth53, Portland Maine
Small museum, big history
The Museum presents a variety of historical topics: classical (of course), but also continues the timeline of Crete with displays about the Venetian Heraklion (great model), Byzantine influence and folk customs. Of particular interest was the exhibit on Crete during World War II, explaining the island’s role in resistance to the German occupation.
By HopeLi – Hong Kong, China
Hidden gem of Crete
The museum is located near Heraklion town center. It’s kind of hidden. In fact, we almost walked past it. However, at 5 euros I have stepped into the past and learned everything about the history of Crete. Literally, I mean everything. From the history, to the island’s culture, to how Crete changed over the years. Every exhibition is fascinating. The exhibitions are well organized, and descriptions are well-written. My favorite part is the exhibition of 20th century Greek artist Jannis Spyropoulos. Another exhibition worth checking out is the incredible collection of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of ‘Zorba the Greek.’ I highly recommend spending 2-3 hours (at least) here so you can better understand and appreciate the uniqueness of Crete.
By Evansdk, Agios Nikolaos Crete
We visited this Museum today and spent 2 hours going round. It contained everything including historical and cultural, from traditions to a thought provoking section on World War II. The staff were wonderful and helpful, access was good and toilet facilities spotless. Wheelchair access is also good with a ramp to get in and a lift available. There is also a nice cafe with garden access, all wheelchair friendly. Well worth visiting
By Jil S – San Diego, California
A must see museum
Starting with an interactive room(hint: touch the button and look at the lighting behind you) that reviews a little history and how the town is laid out to the review of Greek culture and private donations, Why would a young woman wear a dagger in her belt? Visit to find the answers. I hope you will enjoy this museum as well. You’ll walk through a full history of Crete and Heraklion and see so many interesting very attractive and informative displays. You’ll not regret your visit! Lots of great dining options within 5 minutes of the museum.
By Dionysos4 Athens
Η μνήμη είναι δύναμη
Πολυόροφο, προσεγμένο ανεβαίνοντας τους ορόφους δρασκελίζουμε την πολυκυμαντη ιστορία του νησιού με πληθος αποδείξεων και τεκμηρίων.
By Nikos T
Το διαμάντι στο στέμμα
Κόσμημα για την πόλη του Ηρακλείου, από τα πιο όμορφα που μπορεί να επισκεφθεί κανείς στην Ελλάδα. Η ιστορία της Κρήτης σε χρονοκάψουλα. Εξαιρετικό… ενδιαφέρον… ζωντανό. Με μοναδικά μνημειακά έργα του Δομήνικου Θεοτοκόπουλου και μια υπέροχη, πρόσφατα αποκτηθείσα συλλογή εικόνων. Διοργανώνουν εκπληκτικές νυχτερινές επισκέψεις, μετά μουσικής, για το κοινό και ενδιαφέρουσες εκθέσεις. Μην το χάσετε… το επισκέπτομαι 40 χρόνια και δεν το χορταίνω!
By Dimitris N F – Thessaloniki
Η Κρήτη διαχρονικά
Μουσείο φτιαγμένο με μεράκι σε επιστημονική βάση.
Ξεχώρισα τα γλυπτά βενετικά οικόσημα, αντίτυπα κρητικών λογοτεχνικών έργων (πχ Ερωφίλη του 1772) και βέβαια τα δύο έργα του Θεοτοκόπουλου: Το Όρος και η Μονή Σινά (1570) και η Βάπτιση του Χριστού (1569).
Η συλλογή βυζαντινών εικόνων του Πορταλάκη είναι εξαίσια, όπως και τα τμήματα τοιχογραφιών-αγιογραφιών από μονές της Κρήτης.
Σημαντική η παρουσίαση του Νίκου Καζαντζάκη και η ιστορία του νησιού στο Β Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο.
Ωραίες στιγμές στην αρχική αίθουσα με τη μακέτα, όπου μπορείς να φωτίσεις το σημείο ενδιαφέροντός σου στην πόλη. Τέλος, η έκθεση με τα μουσικά όργανα όπου ακούς το κάθε ένα από αυτά που εκτίθενται.
Εισιτήριο προσιτό 5 ευρώ.
Review by Google
*By Vasileios Karaklioumis *
From the Roman Crete and the protochristian period to the Muslim occupation, Kazantzakis and the eventual liberation of Crete. Very well presented and cheap (5€), it is an essential part of a museum tour. The interactive map of Chandax is a nice touch.