Crete Island, Greece

Crete Island

 

Crete is the largest island in Greece - the fifth largest in the Mediterranean - and, within its diverse area of more than 8000 square kilometers, there are many other jewels just waiting to be discovered by the more adventurous explorers of holiday treasures. Тhe visitor can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges  and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture.

Crete Island, Greece Ierapetra - Crete Island, Greece

Short history of Crete

The history of Crete is long and marked by many historical periods. According to Greek mythology, the first queen of Crete was Europa. Later on Crete became the land of King Minos. The legend is that the king refused to sacrifice a bull to the gods and Poseidon punished him by making his wife fall in love with a bull. From this union the Minotaur was born and was hid in a labyrinth. Knosos Archaelogical Site - Crete Island, Greece
Knosos Archaelogical Site - Crete Island, Greece Another legend says that to avenge the death of his son by the Athenians, King Minos made them send seven young girls and boys to Crete every year, to offer them as a sacrifice to the Minotaur. During an expedition the famous mythical hero Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, left Athens with the young Athenians and, with the help of Ariadne, the daughter of the King Minos, managed to kill the Minotaur and find his way out of the labyrinth.

Ancient Crete is the place where the Minoan civilization, one of the most important civilizations of the world (2600-1150 BC), started. Huge palace-states were built, such as the famous and superb palaces of Knossos, Phaestos and Zakros, and the Minoans established a strong naval empire in the Mediterranean. This great civilization was stopped by a natural disaster - the huge waves caused by the eruption of the volcano of Santorini in 1450 BC covered the northern coasts of Crete with lava ashes. Followed by the invasion of the Achaeans and the Dorians, tribes from Northern Europe, the Minoan civilization never revived.

Crete later fell under the domination of the Arabs, in 824, and stayed under it for 137 years. During the early byzantine years several churches and structures were constructed.
In 1204  the Venetians founded new fortified cities and conquered the island of Crete. They fortified the old castles built by the Arabs and built new castles.
Venetian Castle in Ierapetra - Crete Island, Greece

Knossos Palace

Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece
Arthur Evans - Knosos Palace Discoverer - Crete Island, Greece Arthur Evans, the British Archaeologist, excavated the site in 1900 AD and  restored large parts of the palace in a way that it is possible today to appreciate the complexity of a structure that evolved over several millennia and grew to occupy about 20000 square meters.
Walking through its complex multi-storied buildings one can comprehend why the palace of Knossos was associated with the mythological labyrinth. Knosos Palace - Crete, Greece

According to Greek mythology, the palace was designed by famed architect Dedalos with such complexity, that no one placed in it could ever find its exit. King Minos who commissioned the palace then kept the architect prisoner to ensure that he would not reveal the palace plan to anyone. The Labyrinth was the dwelling of the Minotaur in Greek mythology, and many associate the palace of Knossos with the legend of Theseus killing the Minotaur.

Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece The Throne Room in Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece

The palace radiates with joyous exuberance through the elaborate architectural planes and volumes that were clustered around the central courtyard over time. The elegant wall frescoes which decorated the walls speak of a people who approached the subtleties of life and the splendor of nature with a joyous disposition.

Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece Knosos Palace - Crete Island, Greece

Heraklion

Initially called Handak, the city of Heraklion was founded during the Arab domination. The largest and most densely populated region on the island of Crete is Heraklion. Nestling picturesquely among two imposing mountain ranges – Idi to the west and Dikti to the east– Heraklion boasts exceptional archaeological treasures, significant coastal settlements, a series of picturesque villages, vast valleys with olive groves and vineyards as well as the best organised tourist infrastructure in Crete. A unique combination of urban scenery and natural wealth makes the region of Heraklion an appealing all-year-round destination.

Heraklion Harbour - Crete Island, Greece From the old Venetian Harbour the “August 25th” Str leads to the Old town's centre.
The central square is dominated by the Fountain of the Lions, built by Morozini - the Venetian governor in 1628. The Fountain of the Lions - Heraklion, Crete Island, Greece
Heraklion Town Hall - Crete Island, Greece  The Town Hall  is today housed in the Venetian Loggia - a building from the same era.
The basilica of St. Titos The Basilica of St. Titos - Heraklion, Crete Island, Greece
Heraklion Harbour - Crete Island, Greece Heraklion’s Harbor is pleasant and many people enjoy the sun in small cafes and restaurants.

Aghios Nikolaos

Aghios Nikolaos, with over forty years of experience in the tourism industry, is a pleasant resort, welcoming  thousands of visitors annually.

Aghios Nikolaos - Crete Island, Greece Aghios Nikolaos - Crete Island, Greece

Aghios Nikolaos, with over forty years of experience in the tourism industry, is a pleasant resort, welcoming  thousands of visitors annually.
The lake is its most charming feature. Legend suggests that Athena and Armetis bathed in its waters. This lake is connected to the sea by a straight channel, while its natural surroundings of red rock and trees attract the visitor magnetically.

Aghios Nikolaos Lake - Crete Island, Greece Aghios Nikolaos Lake - Crete Island, Greece

Cretan beaches are extremely beautiful. All of them offer the visitor a wide range of services, amenities and security: coffee, drinks, food, water sports and lifeguards. Most of them have been awarded with the blue European flag for being clean and fully equipped. However, for the romantic and nature lovers there are many pristine beaches of incomparable beauty especially in the south.

Beach near Agia Pelagia - Crete Island, Greece Beach near Agia Pelagia - Crete Island, Greece

Guests have the opportunity to experience the nature, history and cultural wealth of the island, while they enjoy the high quality tourism services.
Visit Crete and enjoy!

Official Website

 

Map of Crete Island, Greece

Crete Island, Greece

Travelling Wizards Magazine newsletter

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Book Your Trip Now