Lakkos: Art, History, Food, Heraklion

The Lakkos Project works to breathe colour, life and art into Lakkos, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.
Lakkos Murals & Art in Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Let me tell you a story......

Kommeno Mpenteni in the Venetian walls of Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Kommeno Mpenteni: Heraklion Walls

I was in Heraklion for a few days visiting friends and checking on my house which was being renovated at the time. I used to live in Heraklion and thought I knew the city well but as I left the 3rd floor Airbnb apartment I'd rented to head into town for a bite to eat the route was new to me and I walked through district of the city I'd never before. The brightly illuminated Kommeno Mpenteni unveiled it's arches and graffiti to me as I strolled thorough the cavernous walls of the city and there before me was the new Cultural Centre, a building I had watched being constructed over time not too far from Nikos Kazantzakis grave on high were I liked to gaze over the city and take in the warm breeze that drifted across my favourite town in the world. I knew I could walk to the centre by taking the wide Plastira Street down to Chaniaporta and then up into the centre but figured there must be a more direct route so took the road to the left of the cultural centre heading in the general direction of the Morozini Fountain. The evening had descended to night by the time I'd showered to head to my favourite eatery (Beer O'Clock) close to Platea Venizelou but as I ventured into pastures new I immediately noticed some murals painted on the derelict buildings to my left. It was clear that this unexplored district of the city was in need of some TLC but it was also clear that wall art had become a 'thing' around these parts and as I continued more pretty coloured half ruined buildings and murals enlightened my path town-ward. Soon the narrow alley I walked unsure of my route opened up into a pretty square and there was a kafeneio open with tables dotted around the plaza. To the wall some historic information that informed me that I had accidentally stumbled upon Lakkos. Reading more whilst gazing at the bustling square atmospheric it appeared this part of town had lived a chequered life years ago of hashish dealers, prostitutes and been used to house repatriated immigrants of the Greco-Turkish War and had it's own sub culture as a result. Whilst the ladies of the night and weed peddlers had long since departed as I looked at the uninhabited buildings and narrow lanes that lead all ways I wondered how on earth I had been a resident of this city but never found this place before and felt a little confused as to how that could have been.

My walk to the centre should only have taken 10 minutes or so but this short trip to grab a bite soon became over an hour in length exploring the narrow lanes and discovering more artwork and colourful inspiration as I wandered. Just why had none of my numerous walks or chats with my friends ever disclosed this place to me before? I needed to know more of Lakkos.

Plateia Lakkos, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Lakkos Sqaure

This unexpected discovery was the start of my love affair with Lakkos. I am by my own self admission an admirer of street art in it's cultural form (not rabid graffiti!) and I'd often wondered as a resident of the city why Heraklion only ever seemed to have the more industrial scrawl on it's walls but this was something quite wonderful. I vowed to learn more and take a drink and some food at the lovely looking kafeneio I had discovered.

So what had happened in Lakkos? And where is it?! Here's what I found...