Crete is the most important, largest, and southernmost Greek island, the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. It is located at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa, 400 km away from Athens. With its beauty, the coast on the south side stands out, with numerous bays, coves, and capes with long sandy beaches. In addition to the listed natural values, it is also characterized by numerous cultural values.
It is generally known that Crete is the cradle of the Minoan civilization, which originated more than 4000 years ago and was the first highly developed civilization on the European continent. In Greek mythology, it was celebrated as the birthplace of the supreme god Zeus. Legend says that the mother Rea decided to take him to the Ida mountain, to the Ideon cave, as far away as possible from father Kron, who swallowed his children after birth. There is also the cave Diction, where Zeus spent his last days before moving to legend
The data show that during the season, which lasts from April to November in Crete, thanks to the good climatic conditions, this island is visited by about two million tourists, mostly from northern Europe. If you are planning to become a part of this statistic soon, here are the most popular ancient sites that you shouldn’t miss.
If you have decided to take a tour of Crete this summer to get to know the ancient culture, a locality that you shouldn’t leave out is Knossos. This ancient palace is known for dating back to the time of the Minoan civilization, which left a deep mark in the history of the Greek people. It is the largest archeological site on this island and records numerous visits by tourists throughout the year.
English archaeologist Arthur Evans worked on the excavations of this site. The originally found remains of the walls, which testify that there used to be a religious and administrative seat of the Minoan civilization, as well as the frescoes based on which the legend of the Minotaur was created, were altered by the work of archaeologist Arthur.
This important cultural monument is located south of Heraklion, the largest Cretan city. To get there you can take a taxi, bus or simply consider a rent a car option as advised in rent-a-car-crete.gr.
Another archeological site that you must visit during your stay in Crete is Gortyna. This cultural monument is associated with the Byzantine period. Its most significant cultural value is the Cathedral of St. Tita.
The most significant cultural heritage that originates from here is the Gortyn Code. Some parts of this code are preserved in the Louvre Museum. Its value lies in the fact that it is an example of the ancient Greek code. Don’t forget to pay attention to the walls on which this code is written. Besides, visit the remains of a basilica dating from the 6th century, a theater, and other sights.
Another center of the ancient Minoan civilization that preserves a lot of remains that testify to the former existence of this culture is the Phaistos. By walking through the ruins, you can visit the old royal quarters and pantries, but also learn a lot about the relationships that existed at that time. We warn you to bring comfortable shoes on this tour because a lot of stairs and uneven ground will be waiting for you. But in the end, you will be grateful to yourself when you get a beautiful view from the top.
This view will help you get a complete picture of the former strategic position as well as the beauty of the landscape in which Phaistos is located. The advantage of visiting this archeological value is that the previously mentioned site is nearby, as well as a beautiful beach and caves that you can also visit.
When you are already visiting near Heraklion, and you are interested in ancient sights, then don’t miss the Malia Palace. Here you can see the remains of the palace as well as the settlements that once existed.
Before you go on a tour, you can go for more information at a nearby information center. This will make it easier for you to understand the history of this place and its significance. Also, it is not difficult to walk because you will walk on flat ground. When you are finished, you can swim on one of the beautiful sandy beaches nearby.
5. Zakros Palace
The old Minoan civilization left one palace in Kato Zakros as well. Kato Zakros can be reached by driving from the nearby town of Sitia. Also, walking tours that pass through the gorge in whose rocks the tombs are carved are often organized.
This palace is many times smaller than the great Knossos, but that does not diminish its significance. It used to be an administrative and commercial center. The remains of buildings drain, fountains, wells, the staircase of this important center during the ancient period are just some of the interesting things you can see.
When you get tired of walking you can enjoy one of the taverns on the nearby beach.
Palekastro is the smallest archeological site in comparison with all the previously mentioned, but it is equally of interest to archaeologists. One of the basic things that can be concluded from the excavations is that this site was located in a fertile area, surrounded by olive roots. Also, it was well connected with other ancient settlements and it is believed that a palace once existed in this place as well. Today, the remains of houses, streets, and frescoes can be seen, as well as wells that were a source of water.
Taking into account the long research that has been done here, a lot of documents, essays, graphic representations have been collected.
This tour will not take you much time and will leave you enough time to swim on the beach nearby.
Ancient Cretan culture is impressive and should be the main motive for visiting for every tourist. We guarantee that you will fall in love with the beauty of these ancient sites and that you will surely return to them at some point.