The island of Crete attracted affluent foreign visitors with an interest in its history and archaeology as early as the Ottoman era, known in the literature as Periigites (travellers). Since the time of the Independence of Crete, and especially after the island was united with the rest of Greece, the number of those visiting Heraklion rose impressively. The new political conditions forced officials to travel often; economic growth was noted and numerous merchants visited the city; travelling to Crete by ship was better organized and the character of the voyages gradually changed. The need for proper shelter for the visitors was a prominent issue and the first well-organized hotels were established as early as the first decade of the 20th c.
After the great massacre of 1898, the 25th of August Martyrs’ Avenue in Heraklion was decorated mainly with large buildings that followed the lines of Athenian Neoclassicism and Eclecticism, leaving behind all things related to the architectural morphology of the East. Along this main road, which leads from the old port to the center of the city, the first luxurious hotels of Heraklion were built, designed by important architects of the time, such as Dimitrios Kyriakos.
Articles and references in the local papers presented important aspects of the emergence and development of Greek tourism and the function of the local hotels, the services they offered to their clients and the competition between them.
In this paper, the results of archival and bibliographical research are presented for the first time, highlighting the role of hotels in Heraklion’s everyday life, through the study of their architecture, local newspapers clippings and the archives of the Greek Tourism Organization.