Although Crete is just one of the thousands of Greek islands, many people tend it look at it as almost an independent country, such is its size, history and tradition, and in some respects this is an accurate description. Whilst the island has many attractions which attract a cross section of visitors, its historical sites and places of interests really do set it apart from other islands and are a reason to visit if you ever get the opportunity to do so.
Ancient Palace of Knossos
The ancient city of Knossos was for thousands of years the home of the Minoan civilisation until its destruction in 1375 B.C. In its heyday, the palace was once of the grandest of its kind and today’s visitors will be able to get a flavour of just how impressive it once was. Areas have been restored to how historians believed it once would have looked, and despite some saying it is not as accurate as it could be; it allows the casual visitor to get a sense of its past importance and is an excellent example of the sort of history the island has to offer.
The ‘Malia’ Palace
Anyone who has been to Malia will probably think that ‘Malia Palace’ refers to a chicken establishment or a new nightclub, but the reality is that a few miles outside of the main holiday town is a palace which is very similar to that found at Knossos. This one is thought to have been built around 1900 B.C before being abandoned in 1450 B.C. Marvel at the excavations and the so called ‘Pit of Gold.’
Sitting just 15 km west of modern day Aghios Nikolaos is the ancient city of Lato, which in the 7th century was known as one of, if the, most important city on the island before its destruction in 200BC. Today some of the original walls and buildings are still standing and give a fascinating glimpse into Dorian architecture. As the site sits on the slopes of two acropolises it provides great views and is certainly a very impressive looking place to wander around and explore on a warm spring day.
In addition to the many sites on the island, Crete has more than its fair share of museums. Naval, archaeological, folk art and various historical museums litter areas such as Rethymnon and Heraklion so you certainly will not be short of options. Local finds are displayed for you to see up close and personal, many of which originate from the sites you may have visited a day or two prior!
Greece and its islands have some of the most fascinating history on the planet. If you like your history with a touch of sun and great food to boot, consider putting a trip to Crete on your wish list this year!
Written by Ricky Durrance for Beat the Brochure.