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View of the city.
View of the city.
Hersonissos is located in Greece
Coordinates 35°19′N 25°23.4′E / 35.317°N 25.3900°E / 35.317; 25.3900Coordinates: 35°19′N 25°23.4′E / 35.317°N 25.3900°E / 35.317; 25.3900
Country: Greece
Administrative region: Crete
Regional unit: Heraklion
Mayor: Zacharias Doxastakis (PASOK)
Population statistics (as of 2011)[1]
 - Population: 26,717
 - Area: 271.6 km2 (105 sq mi)
 - Density: 98 /km2 (255 /sq mi)
Municipal unit
 - Population: 8,262
 - Population: 3,165
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (min-max): 0–12 m ­(0–39 ft)

Hersonissos (Greek: Χερσόνησος(meaninig peninsula), Chersónisos, pronounced [xerˈsonisos]), 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]


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 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[3] 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,[4] with its recreation of a traditional Cretan village, is another interesting place not only for those with children.

Ancient remains[edit]

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.[5]

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.[6]

The episcopal see associated with this town is now a titular see ("Chersonesus in Creta") of the Catholic Church.[7]

Line notes[edit]

  1. ^ Detailed census results 2011 (Greek)
  2. ^ a b Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  3. ^ Aquaworld Aquarium
  4. ^ Lychnostatis Open Air Museum
  5. ^ R.E.Bell, 1989
  6. ^ William Smith (editor), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), vol. 1, p. 607
  7. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 868