Housed in a neoclassical building, The Historical Museum of Crete takes you on a journey of the region's past from early Christian times. It was founded in 1953 by Society of Cretan Historical Studies with the aim of curating and preserving valuable historical, archaeological, and ethnographic artifacts of the region. The museum has succeeded in its aim and is today the perfect place to understand Cretan history from early times to the 20th century.
The neoclassical building housing the museum is an important architectural landmark of the city. Initially designed by L. Kantantzoglou in 1870, the building was destroyed by Turks in 1898. It was rebuilt in 1903 by of K.Tsantirakis who tried to design it based on the original layout. The designs of K.Tsantirakis is preserved till date. Today, the historical building belongs to the Philanthropic Institutions A. and M. Kalokairinou. The building is declared as a heritage structure. Its neoclassical architecture with a marble porch, rectangular windows with arched lintels looks simple and impressive at the same time. Look out for details such as the courtyard enclosed by a neoclassical fence and scenes of Odyssey in the interiors.
The museum has an impressive permanent collection along with various temporary collections that are hosted limited periods. The temporary exhibition room often transports you to a different world based on the theme of the exhibition. The permanent exhibition is a rich collection curated to showcase the essence of Cretan history. Here, you will find articles from 4th century AD up to and including the Second World War. You can take a peek at the bygone era with everyday objects of people's lives, such as ceramics, jewelry, vessels, ritualistic icons, fabric, and more. There are also sculptures from early times and a reconstructed Cretan rural home. The museum's most famous exhibits are two paintings by the artist lovingly known as El Greco). HE was born in Crete and his works The Baptism of Christ (1567) and View of Mount Sinai (1570–2) are a major attraction for art lovers of the world. If you are in the museum, don't miss the impressive 4×4-meter model of mid-17th century Heraklion.
Good to know
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday. Call and check the opening hours as they differ seasonally. There is a shop selling books on Cretan history and souvenirs near the entrance gate and a café on level 1.