» Greece, Crete – The Island of Sights, Mountains and Sea II
Greece, Crete – The Island of Sights, Mountains and Sea II
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.
The first stop on our way was Rethymno, Crete’s third largest city. It is situated between Heraklion and Chania on the northern coast of the island. The main sight in the city is the late-16th century Venetian fortress . It looms above the city. Even if you don’t include the fortress in your itinerary, I recommend to go up the hill to the main gate. From there you can view the city and the sea as well. Another interesting attractions is a Venetian-style harbor where many restaurants and bars are situated. Staff there surely wont let you pass by easily. We couldn’t resist to sit down at one of them and observe clear sea water and an elegant 16th century ighthouse. Only small boats are allowed in the harbor. Therefore, there is nice and pleasant atmosphere.
One short break after we continued westwards to Chania, the second largest city on Crete with 55 thousand inhabitants. Chania was called Kydonia in the times of the Minoan civilization . Archeological excavations on Kastelli hill gave evidence to its existence back then. This, however, is only a small fenced area. You don’t have to pay anything there. Between the 4th and 9th centuries AD, the Arabs ruled over Chania. They expelled Christians up to the mountains. In the 10th century, the city became part of the Byzantine Empire once again. Chania then became the seat of a bishop. The Venetians had ruled over the city since the 13th century. They walled the city but these proved not enough against the Ottomans who captured it in 1645. They had stayed there until the end of the beginning of the 20th century.
German army bombed the city intensively during the WWII. Many important sights were damaged or completely destroyed. Some buildings were renovated after the war. Until the 1972, Chania had been the capital of the island.
It was on the road which run along the coastline where we began our tour. It led us to the Venetian port in the city center. There are many restaurant and bars in the port. We intended some fresh fish. However, the prices were unpleasantly high. Fish is usually cheap at seaside resorts. The prices here were around 20 euro. Pretty expensive for our taste. Eventually we couldn’t resist to take a seat in one restaurant. We enjoyed the view of „Janissaries“ mosque while sitting on the opposite side of the port. The true name of the mosque is Hassan Pasha. Built in 1645 (the year Chania was seized by the Turks) makes it the oldest Turkish building on the island. The renovation is well done except for a concrete dome.
We were denied from entering the mosque. Therefore, we stood outside and marveled at it. We set off for a tour in the afternoon. It took place in the main cathedral. It is situated adjacent to the busiest avenue in the city – Halidon. Vendors there sell anything you could think of. Anyway, the cathedral was built in the second half of the 19th century. It pleasantly surprised us despite its modest interior. Then we continued up to Kastelli hill. Through fence we could observe excavation sights of the Minoan civilization. The archeological works have been in work since 1966. The oldest findings are located in the Chania Archeological Museum . Our tour ended on the city wall and a climb up to a spot with magnificent view.
There is much more in the city. Because the daylight was slowly gone we had to go toward a camp nearby. We had delicious dinner and beer which we deserved. Then we slipped into our sleeping bags and looked forward for the following day. Next Monday you will learn how it eventually went.
GPS: (cathedral) 35°30'55.0"N 24°01'05.9"E
Text and photos: Vojtěch Bližňák
Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is one of the smaller islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Most tourists come here with a clear destination - relax on the beach, gyros and tzatziki, ouzo and maybe one or two trips to the most interesting sights. This 60 km long island with a long and interesting history can offer much more.
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.
This gem of Ionian Islands. It is known not only for beautiful beaches but also for its charming Greek countryside. You can enjoy it to the fullest on the island. Lefkada is situated south of Corfu and north of Cephalonia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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