Iraklia is the westernmost island of the Small East Cyclades cluster with an area of 18,078 square kilometers. It is located south of Naxos and is 18 nautical miles from Naxos Town (about 1 hour and 15 minutes by ferry line) and 2.5 nautical miles from the southern Cape of Gaitani and Katomeri in Naxos. Heraklia has 151 inhabitants and consists of two settlements: Panagia or Chora and Agios Georgios where the port of the island is located.
Most of the island’s inhabitants are engaged in farming and agriculture and the island is famous for its delicious traditional cheeses, meats (goat, lamb and pork), fava and thyme honey of excellent quality. During the summer months many residents of Heraklion are involved in tourism.
In Iraklia, emerald and mineral iron deposits and many freshwater sources have also been identified. The first geological survey of the island was made by Socrates. Papavassiliou who published the results of his research in 1907 in the Archimedes Magazine with a geological map of Heraklia on a scale of 1: 73,000. According to him, Heraklia is composed mostly of crystalline slates alternating with thick layers of marble and amphibole slate and marble.
It is remarkable that the island, despite its small size, is characterized by particularly rich biodiversity. Birds are the most studied fauna in Heraklia. By the end of 2010, 175 bird species had been recorded, many of which were threatened and protected worldwide. Of these 26 were predators.
- The peak of the Pope, at an altitude of 420 m, is located in the southern part near the settlement of Panagia.
- The castle of Livadi around which many archeological finds from the Neolithic period have been found.
- The settlement of Agios Athanasios, which is almost abandoned today, however, presents an interesting layout with Cycladic architecture.
- The cave of Saint John with its rich decoration of stalactites and stalagmites. It is the largest Cave of the Cyclades with an area of 2000 sq.m. Nearby is a smaller one called the Cyclops Cave. Both are located in the north of the island.
- Merichas bay, in the SE. side of the island, with the steep and rocky shores of 100 m high, a particularly safe bay in the west, northwest and north winds.
- As well as the chapels of Taxiarchis, Prophet Elias, Agia Paraskevi, Agios Mamas, Agios Athanasios and Agios Ioannis.