» Greece, Crete – Island of Landmarks, Mountains, and the Sea VI
Greece, Crete – Island of Landmarks, Mountains, and the Sea VI
We left early in the morning the Agia Galini camp for Phaistos (Faistos) palais. It is considered the second most important Minoan palace (the first one is Knossos). The palace is situated on Kastri Hill which is in central area of the Mesara Plain. Up from there you can get beautiful vista of the Idi mountains.
The palace was founded around the year 1900 BCE. Two hundred years later an earthquake demolished it. Soon after, another palace was constructed upon the ruins of the former – the second palace. People dwelled inside until 1450 BCE. Then the entire Minoan civilization was wiped out by a huge tidal wave. There are still some ruins to be seen. And most of the excavation works uncovered the second palace. In 1900, the Italian archeologist Frederico Halbherr uncovered the remains of the two palaces. Unlike Knossos, ruins here were not rebuilt. Rather, they were left in the state in which they were excavated.
Once you enter the palace, the first thing to catch your attention is the 14-meter wide staircase with the total of 12 stairs going from the amphitheater and the western courtyard to the new palace to the left or the main courtyard to the right. The stairs are protuberant to look more impressive. This timeless architectonic feature was later adopted to Pantheon, Athenes. On main courtyard, there is beautiful view of the highest mountain of the Idi, i.e. Crete – Psiloritis (2 456 m). Sacred Minoan cave of Kamares is in its foothill. A collection of ceramic items was found there. Today the findings are displayed in the Archeological Museum, Heraklion.
You can walk across the northern courtyard when going from the main courtyard. You can go to the royal chambers. These were walled for security reasons. Royal chambers consisted of separated of the king’s and queen’s chambers. Behind their chambers, there is a part of the palace called the archive. It was in 1903 when the famous Phaistos disc was discovered. It is a small clay plate with pictograms carved into it going in a spiral. It resembles Egyptian hieroglyphs. The plate originates between the years of 1700–1600 BCE. It is on display at the Archeology Museum, Heraklion .
We walked through the entire compound. It took us about 1.5 of modest pace. There is an information board at every section. Therefore, there is no need to have a book guide. Once finished, we returned to our car. Right next to the car park, we discovered an abandoned church . It is far from spectacular at the first sight. But soon you unveil its magic. Even though it was closed we could see most of its interior from outside – old paintings, incense, and candles. In the past, masses must have taken place there. Today the church serves for storage.
The next stop was the eastern part of the island. However, there was still a long way to go. We set off for Irapetra. As we said in previous parts of our series, there are not freeways on Crete. Therefore, it was a slow ride for us. We planned to spend night in a camp in the town of Koutsounari. It is about 7 kilometers away from Irapetra. The weather forecast had it it should rain that night. This led us to rent a cottage. It would spare us of packing wet tents. The price difference was very small. The weather forecast was right so we were glad to stay dry. The owner asked us where were we headed. She gave us some advice. We went to a restaurant for a dinner where they serve typical Cretan cuisine (I can recommend). It is right on the other side of the road. After dinner we took a stroll on the beach. It was windy, though which was why we slipped into our sleeping bags soon.
The story of how we discovered amazing places in the east of Crete is the matter for the next week.
GPS:(Koutsounari) 35°00'28.6"N 25°49'16.5"E
Text: Vojtěch Bližňák
Photos: Vojtěch Bližňák, Wikimedia Commons: Olaf Tausch, Stegop
Wondering if you will end up heading out to sea? Would you like to fly to Crete? This island is so famous that we will not talk about it now. But while you're here, we know of a great day trip. That you don't want to walk around the sights in the awful heat? Be calm, this trip will absolutely captivate you. We set off to Chrissi Island.
Cosmopolitan Mykonos is an island in the Greek Cyclades archipelago in the Mediterranean. The world is known as the island of celebrities, creams and nightlife. Recently, however, it has come to the forefront of popularity and Czech travel agencies are beginning to offer it in their catalogs.
The island of Mykonos is not big, it has an area of only about 100 km². And so the ideal way to travel the whole island is to rent a scooter, motorbike or quad bike. In addition to a varied nightlife, Mykonos is famous for its rugged coastline with beautiful beaches and a very pleasant climate. Today we will go to explore some of its most famous beaches.
Santorini (Thira in Greek language) is a relatively small part of the Cyclades archipelago, with a width of only 6 km and a length of just over 25 km. Its area, however, strongly balances the geographical and geological location of the island and its rich history. Situated 220 km from Athens and 110 km from Crete, Thira has always been an important and often necessary stop on the route between these major shopping centers. As a result, traces of the largest Minoan settlement outside Crete have been preserved on the island.
The last day before leaving Crete by plane we did want to spend in Heraklion. Most of all at the most famous Minoan palace of Knossos. At around 8 o’clock in the morning we left the camp of Sissi. About one hour later we were in front of our hotel. We parked the car and went for Knossos right away. This largest tourist attraction on Crete is only 5 kilometers to the south from Heraklion. Buses depart every twenty minutes for the palace and you pay 3 euro per ticket.
The next day’s morning we woke up while it was still being dark. Because we spent the night at a cottage, we quickly packed our things. At 6 o’clock we were already heading to Kato Zakros, another important Minoan palace. Unfortunately, the weather was not good. It rained all day. Yet this was no thing that would make us to loose our spirits. At around 8 o’clock we reached our destination. The information in the book guide said it the opening hours start at 8. However, right there we found out it would be at 10. Two hours of additional time meant we made use of them and walked along the coastline.
The title suggests that Crete is island of several great tourist attractions. People who love culture, those who love history and nature or just laying on a beach will all enjoy a stay here. The history of Crete is, however, very colorful. Therefore, it would be a pity to spend your vacation just being lazy on a beach.
On this day, we planned to make a short trip to the Lefka Ori mountains. Bad weather prevented us from going there. Therefore, we decided to travel to Moni Preveli monastery instead.
A delegate of the company we rented our car from had been already waiting for us once we arrived at the airport. It was apparent that there is some fierce competition among car rental companies. The way how they treat their customers is the consequence of the fierce competition. Once we had settled all documents we needed we get in our car and drove to the west. There are no official freeways so you don’t pay any toll.
We woke up to nice and shinny day. Nobody was on the beach we went to so we just laid around. I recommend you Camp Mithimna, the camp we stayed at. Its owner was very kind and helpful. After a short talk with him we left for Balos, the beach in the northwest on the Gramvousa peninsula.
The longest European gorge of Samaria was another point of interest. The Samaria is located in Crete’s western half. The gorge is in the middle of the White Mountains (in Greek Lefka Ori). The gorge became a national park in 1962 when the inhabitants of Samaria village was displaced. It was situated in the middle of the gorge. Also, the gorge is a world biosphere reserve.
After several articles on London we jump across Europe to the Mediterranean, actually to the east part of the sea. Today we will have a taste of sun after rains of London, and warm waters of the Sea of Crete.
Last week we have lured to you to our trip to Crete. This hilly island hides many things, no healthy tourist would miss that. Today we will take a look on one of the largest cities of Crete, Rethymno. First, we will talk about local cuisine. Next week will visit some landmarks.
After unveiling gourmet side of the Cretan city rise from the comfortable sitting in one of the local restaurants and we will explore the historical legacy left by several millennia of human habitation.
One of the most popular holiday resorts in recent years has been Greek island of Samos, the birthplace of famous Pythagoras. What reason stands behind large numbers of tourists coming there between June and first half of September? There are actually couple of them!
From Old town with medieval buildings and watchtowers we head into the New Town district, where you can also find monuments from different periods, which was together with historical centre right declared by UNESCO as world natural and cultural attractions.
The city with cultural traditions, with known rhetorical school (attended by Cicero and Caesar) and the famous sculptural school. Ever since its foundation (408 BC) the capital of the island is Rhodos, lies in whose northern tip.
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