Gaze upon the ancient Venetian stonework of the Bembo Fountain, the first spot in Heraklion to offer running water. Note the Roman statue at the back of the fountain and the decorative coats of arms still visible in the stonework. Stop for a coffee in the café next door, which was formerly the town’s pump house.
The Bembo Fountain was built between 1552 and 1554 by the governor, Gianmatteo Bembo. It is the oldest fountain in the city and had a dramatic impact on the daily lives of the people who resided in Heraklion. Water was transported via an aqueduct from Mount Yiouthas. Imagine the delight of the local citizens as they saw running water in their city for the first time.
As you approach the fountain you will notice a Roman sentry standing behind the spring in the middle of the fountain. This unnamed soldier is special, however, since he has no head. The statue was found by the fountain’s builders near the town of Ierapetra and incorporated into the design.
Despite being nearly 500 years old, the stonework remains in good condition. On either side of the statue, note the pillars and Venetian coats of arms, which contain elements of both Gothic and Renaissance design. Step closer and peer into the spring and you will see how the inside is decorated with ornate flowery patterns, typical of Greek architecture of the time.
Stop in for a drink or an al fresco snack outside the hexagonal building adjacent to the fountain. This is now a popular café. The original Turkish construction was a sebil or public roadside water fountain. At one time, mountain snow was delivered to the sebil to offer refreshing chilled water to passersby.
The Bembo Fountain is located in Plateia Kornarou, next to the Turkish Sebil.