General Info & Access

Heraklion is the largest city and the capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is one of the Mediterranean region’s most fascinating and vibrant cities. Heraklion is a bustling, modern and dynamic city, filled of history and full of places to discover. With the current efforts to open up the wonderful medieval city centre, it speaks to us of a past full of history and great events that reflect its strategic geopolitical position at the crossroads of three continent. You can find everywhere traces of the different cultures that have inhabited the island throughout the ages, by the Minoans of Bronze Age till the modern days.

Heraklion (Ηράκλειο in Greek) is the largest city and the largest urban center in the island of Crete, South Greece, the capital of the region and the economic center of the island. It is a very dynamic and cosmopolitan town, particularly during the summer period when thousands of visitors can be seen shopping in the market or visiting the museums and other places of interest.

Heraklion is built near the ruins of Knossos, which was the capital of the Minoan Crete. Minoans lived more than 4000 years ago and their civilization was the first advanced civilization in the European continent. There is no archaelogical evidence about it, but Knossos may well have had a port at the site of Heraklion as early as 2000 BC.

The city of Heraklion begun to develop in the middle of the 9th century AD by the Saracens. They built a moat around the city for protection, and named the city الخندق ربض ,abḍ al-ḫandaq (“Castle of the Moat”). The Saracens allowed the port to be used as a safe haven for pirates who operated against Imperial shipping and raided Imperial territory around the Aegean. In later times, Heraklion came under Byzantine, Arabic, Venetian and Ottoman rule; its conquerors initially gave it the name Khandaq or Handak which was corrupted to Candia, though the Cretans used to refer to it as the “Great Castle”.

Heraklion may seem confusing to a visitor at first, particularly if you arrive expecting to see a picturesque little island town. It’s modernized and urbanized, a maelstrom of traffic, concrete and dust. But behind this facade you can discover a vibrant working small metropolis with a great number of attractive features which do much to temper initial impressions. All over the city you can find traces of its glorious past. Byzantine churches, Ottoman fountains and Venetian walls have gotten into the landscape of the city.

You can arrive to Heraklion by:

  • Boat: There are daily routes to Piraeus port in Athens
  • Airplane: There is an international airport called “Nikolaos Kazantzakis” with daily scheduled flights from/to Athens, Thessaloniki and other international airports around the world


University of Crete

It is the principal higher education institution on the island of Crete, and one of the country’s most academically acclaimed and reputable ones. The University ranked 51st in the Times Higher Education (THE) annual list of the top 100 universities founded in the past 50 years. It was established in 1973 and started functioning in the academic year 1977-78.

The University of Crete, is a multi-disciplinary, research-oriented institution, located in the cities of Rethymnon (official seat) and Heraklion, in the island of Crete. It is a University well-known both nationally and internationally for its state of the art research, undergraduate curricula, and graduate programmes. It is considered one of the best universities in Greece mainly due to its research influence: it ranks in the top 400 Universities of the World by the Times Higher Education list. It is notable that it achieves this distinction although it has less than 30% of the faculty members in comparison to other larger academic institutions in Greece. You can find more information here.

Medical School of Heraklion

Originally envisaged in 1976 as part of a School of Health Sciences, the Medical School was actually established in 1983 and received its first students in 1984-85. Since 1989 the Medical School has been operating at the Voutes Campus, Heraklion, adjoining the University Hospital, which was inaugurated in the same year. This is one of the newest medical and research complexes in Greece.

Since the inception of the Medical School, there has been an emphasis on basic sciences and its integration with clinical practice and research. This is reflected in the education and training programs for undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as in bench and clinical research. You can find more information here.

The available departments for Professional Exchanges are:

  • Internal Medicine, Endocrinology
  • Dermatology
  • Pneumonology
  • Rheumatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cardiology
  • Neurology
  • General Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology
  • Cardiosurgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • Gynecology and Obstetrics
  • Urology
  • Pediatrics
  • Orthopedics
  • Neurosurgery
  • Opthalmology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Psychiatry

The available projects for Research Exchanges are:

Immunology CD44/ Hyaluronan signaling in contact allergen induced keratinocyte activation
Endocrinology Detection of membrane androgen receptors in prostate cancer
Physiology Effect of substrate elasticity on the physiology of invasive and non-invasive breast cancer cell lines
Biochemistry EGF/IGF signaling in breast cancer pathogenesis
Pharmacology Elucidation of the structure and function of corticotropin releasing factor receptors
Dermatology Evaluation of the role of synthetic neurosteroids on psoriasis
Pathophysiology Gene signatures associated with the pathogenesis of the Metabolic Syndrome in mice
Biochemistry Insulin resistance and regulation of innate immune responses
Biology The role of the mRNA degradation machinery in neurodegeneration

For more information, please check the IFMSA Explore Pages of LC Heraklion here!

If you want to learn about Professional and Research Exchanges in Heraklion, we have made a Survival Guide for you! Check it out below.