“The Lions” – The Square of Heraklion bustling 24 hours a day

The Heraklion inhabitants call the square with the Morosini Fountain as “the Lions” from the ornate Venetian fountain with the four lions from whose mouths water gushes. The Morosini Fountain is officially located at Eleftherios Venizelos Square in the center of Heraklion, but usually the name Lions Square is mentioned. The fountain is one of the greatest monuments the Venetians built in Heraklion and when it was constructed it provided a solution to the water problem in the city as it is stated that it supplied the citizens with 1,000 barrels of water per day.

Historical information saved to date indicate that at the time of the Arab conquest ( 9th-10th AD) the largest slave market of the Eastern Mediterranean was taking place in the square. During the Byzantine period, Lions Square housed the residence of the Byzantine governor of the city .

The Morosini Fountain , was built in Heraklion by the General Provisioner Francesco Morosini and the engineers Zorzi Corner, Raffaello Monnani and Francesco Basilicata. The reason they built the fountain was not aesthetic, but to bring plenty of drinking water in Heraklion that did not have water sources and residents were using wells and tanks to store rainwater. But thanks to Morosini, the water from the mountain Giouchtas in Arhanes arrived in Heraklion through a pipeline 15 km long. The project took 14 months to complete and was inaugurated on 25 April 1628, the feast day of St. Mark, patron of Venice .

The reservoir of the fountain is located on a circular platform and consists of eight lobes which enabled more people to fill up their jugs. The lobes of the fountain externally are decorated with reliefs with subjects taken from the Greek mythology , especially Tritons, dolphins and nymphs, mythical creatures associated with the water element. In the center of each lobe \ the coats of arms of the duke, the advisers and of Morosini were placed. In the center of the fountain on a tall octagonal pedestal proudly sit four lions from whose mouths running water keeps pouring. The lion is not common in fountains, as it is an animal that is not associated with water, but in this case it was used as the symbol of power of the Venetians.

It is the most famous square in Heraklion and a meeting place for coffee, relaxation or any other activity and the most lively part of the city which is full of life around the clock and throughout the year. Even at the late night hours, those who go there for entertainment in the clubs of the city, will enjoy the delicious souvlaki or the delicious traditional bougatsa (cream pies) in the early morning hours. It is overall a beautiful stone-paved square, surrounded by all kinds of shops that offer visitors and residents of the city whatever they may need . And as night falls, the beauty of the Lions square gets even more impressive, as the lighting in the water of the fountain adds to their scenery, making the visit to Heraklion an unforgettable memory.