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Title: Hersonissos  
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Subject: Gouves, Greece, Malia, Crete, List of settlements in the Heraklion regional unit, Crete, Stalida
Collection: Municipalities of Crete
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View of the city.
View of the city.
Hersonissos is located in Greece
Country Greece
Administrative region Crete
Regional unit Heraklion
 • Mayor Zacharias Doxastakis (PASOK)
 • Municipality 271.6 km2 (104.9 sq mi)
Highest elevation 12 m (39 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Municipality 26,717
 • Municipality density 98/km2 (250/sq mi)
 • Municipal unit 8,262
 • Population 3165
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Hersonissos (Greek: Χερσόνησος(meaning peninsula), Chersónisos, pronounced ), also transliterated as Chersonisos and Hersónisos, is a town and a municipality in the north of Crete, bordering the Mediterranean / Aegean Sea. This community is about 25 kilometers east of Heraklion and west of Agios Nikolaos. What is usually called Hersonissos is in fact its peninsula and harbour. It is part of the Heraklion regional unit. It is situated 25 km from the Heraklion airport and 27 km from the Heraklion port. The seat of the municipality is the village Gournes.[2]


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
  • Municipality 3
  • Tourism 4
  • Ancient remains 5
  • Gallery 6
  • Line notes 7
  • References 8


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: Ανω 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 Chersonnesus early became 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.[3]

After the Venetian conquest of Crete in 1212, the existing dioceses, such as Chersonnesus, were administered by Latin Church bishops. The line of residential Latin bishops ended with the conquest of Crete by the Ottomans in 1669.[4] No longer a residential bishopric, Chersonnesus in Creta is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[5]


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:[2]


Hersonissos is oriented towards tourism industry. In the main street there are many souvenir shops, as well as other shops and restaurants, some of which are near the sea. There is also a small aquarium called Aquaworld Aquarium[6] featuring local sea life and reptiles, most of which are rescued animals and many of which visitors and their children can hold. The Lychnostatis Open Air Museum,[7] with its recreation of a traditional Cretan village, is another interesting place not only for those with children.

Ancient remains

Roman fountain in Hersonissos.

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.[8]

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.[9]

The episcopal see associated with this town is now a titular see ("Chersonesus in Creta") of the Catholic Church.[5]


Line notes

  1. ^ "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority. 
  2. ^ a b Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  3. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 269-272
  4. ^ Raymond Janin, v. 1. Chersonnèse, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XII, Paris 1953, coll. 635-636
  5. ^ a b Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 868
  6. ^ Aquaworld Aquarium
  7. ^ Lychnostatis Open Air Museum
  8. ^ R.E.Bell, 1989
  9. ^ (1854), vol. 1, p. 607Dictionary of Greek and Roman GeographyWilliam Smith (editor),


  • Robert E. Bell (1989) Place-names in classical mythology: Greece, ABC-CLIO, 350 pages ISBN 0-87436-507-4
  • Hersonissos history [2]
  • C. Michael Hogan, , Modern Antiquarian (2007)Knossos fieldnotes
  • National Statistical Service of Greece
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