Iraklion is the gateway to Knossos, the most impressive of the Minoan palace sites, while the museum here is home to the world's only comprehensive collection of Minoan artifacts. Beyond that, the town has magnificent fortified walls and several other testimonies to the Venetians' time of power. Iraklion is also big enough (Greece's fifth-largest city) and confident enough to have its own identity as a busy modern city. It often gets bad press because it bustles with traffic and commerce and construction -- the very things most travelers want to escape. At any rate, give Iraklion a chance.