CRETE

Knossos

The archaeological site of Knossos is sited 5 km southeast of the city of Iraklion. There is evidence that this location was inhabited during the Neolithic times (6000 B.C.) . On the ruins of the Neolithic settlement was built the first Minoan palace (1900 B.C.) where the dynasty of Minos ruled. This was destroyed in 1700 B.C and a new palace built in its place.

CREATA

The palace covered an area of 22,000sq.m, it was multi- storeyed and had an intricate plan. Due to this fact the Palace is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur. The city of Knossos had 100.000 citizens and it continued to be an important city-state until the early Byzantine period.

CRENI

Cretan Night

A superb evening for all the family! While you are entertained with the sounds of the bouzouki and lyra, you will be served with an original Cretan dinner with unlimited house wine.

The venue is in a beautiful village nestled in the mountains high above Hersonissos. Guests will be treated to a performance of traditional Greek dances accompanied by live music.

You will also be invited to join in and have a chance to learn a few steps of traditional dances, turn yourself into a Zorbas for a night and keep this wonderful night in your memory forever. Dinner consists of many mouth-watering Greek dishes that must be tried. There is no better way to experience traditional Greek entertainment and hospitality.

Lassithi Plateau and cave of Zeus

Lassithi Plateau

The wonderful Lassithi Plateau is located about 25km south of Malia and 70km west of Heraklion city. Located in a peaceful and fertile region, it is surrounded by the wild mountains of Dikti and several smaller plateaus. The views of the surrounding mountains of Selena and Afendis Hristos are majestic. The altitude ranges from 800 to 850m, making Lassithi one of the few residential areas in the Mediterranean at such high altitude. The 18 villages of the plateau are built at the foot of the surrounding mountains, leaving the plains free to cultivate, and they are connected by a 23km long circular road.

LASI8I

The program includes also, visit to the holy monastery of Our Lady of Keri Kardiotissa (Heart) and see the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and the ancient frescoes that first mentioned in 1415 and have gain believers of the entire Orthodox world. The miraculous icon written on a sheet of copper and a copy of the icon in the VIII century, were created by St. Lazarus.

ZEUS

Cave of Zeus

The Dikteon Cave (or Dikteon Andron or Dictaean Cave) is one of the most important and famous of the 3,000 caves in Crete and the 8,500 in Greece.

It is in the impressive Dikteon Cave, rich in stalagmites and stalactites, that Zeus was born according to legend.

The Dikteon Cave is found in the Mount Dicte range in East Crete, on the Lassithi Plateau. The cave is near the village of Psychro, which is why it is also known as Psychro Cave. The most impressive sight is the lake at the lowest point, surrounded by massive stalactites and stalagmites.The archaeological finds to date have shown uninterrupted human presence in the Dikteon Cave from the end of the Neolithic period onwards, i.e. for the last 6,000 years.

From the 16th century AD to 1883, the Dikteon Cave was used as a shelter by local shepherds and hunters.

Spinalonga

Spinalonga is a small island near Elounda in East Crete. Spinalonga  is also known as the Leper Island, as that is where lepers from Crete and the rest of Greece were quarantined until 1957.

SPINALOGA

The strategic position of the rocky islet for the control and defence of Elounda harbour could not but mark Spinalonga with a turbulent history of fierce battles and much human suffering. Today the name Spinalonga is only applied to the islet, but the Venetians used it to include the large peninsula of Nissi or Kolokytha, which is connected to Elounda by a narrow isthmus. At the beginning of XX century, the island became a leper colony. Since the 60s, the island served historical and archaeological interest. Apparently Kolokytha used to be joined to Spinalonga (which is why it shared the same name), but in 1526 the Venetians cut a canal between the two, forming this small island.

Rethymnon:

One of the most beautiful cities of the island. Explore one of the best preserved medieval cities in Greece, and search for your fairy-tale romance in Rethymno. Venetian fortification works mingle harmonically with orthodox and catholic churches, mosques, majestic mansions of Venetian architecture. Arches and cobbled paths which create a magical atmosphere, reminiscence of the city’s turbulent –yet glorious– past. The Fortress dominates the city and makes Rethymno very photogenic, its pedestrian streets below, strewn with charming old buildings.

RETHYMNO
1

Spili:

Spili is a picturesque village located at an altitude of 430 metres and 28 km south-east of Rethymno Town. Due to its fabulous location the village offers an astonishing view to the sea and the entire surrounding filled with trees, fountains, springs and chapels and churches with wonderful murals. The main square of the village is lovely and has a fine stone fountain constituted by a row of stone carved lion heads from where crystal clear water flows.The village is famous for producing unique weaving

2

Preveli:

The beach of Preveli is situated 40 km south of the main town and is the most idyllic beach in Rethymno. Preveli reminds of an exotic lagoon. It is an oasis of palm trees with crystalline greenish waters and fine soft sand. The Kourtaliotis River ends at this wonderful beach, creating a delta. Apart from the superb palm trees, lush vegetation surrounds the beach and the river, creating a dreamy landscape.

3

Gramvousa:

The island of Imeri Gramvousa is located 20km northwest of Kissamos, opposite the imposing. Cape of Gramvousa is situated 2 miles northwest of the famous lagoon of Balos. Gramvousa is famous for its historical Venetian fortress, which still stands at a height of 137m, over the beach. The fort had also been used by pirates. One legend tells that there is a great treasure buried in the island. Also, the old wreck that was abandoned many years ago near the beach, has become an characteristic part of the landscape.

balos

Balos:

The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani and below the range of Platiskinos. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece. It is no coincidence that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Balos with their private yacht many years ago. The lagoon of Balos has white sand and exotic white. The sea is very shallow and warm, ideal for young children. In many places the sand has a lovely pinkish color, because of millions of crushed shells.

The Minoan Palace of Phaistos – Gortys – Matala beach

Phaistos

The Minoan palace of Phaistos corresponds to a flourishing city which arose in the fertile plain of the Messara in prehistoric times, from circa 6000 BC to the 1st century BC, as archaeological finds confirm.
The first palace of Phaistos was built in circa 2000 BC. In 1700 BC a strong earthquake destroyed the palace, which was rebuilt almost immediately. Phaistos was no longer the administrative centre of the area, an honour which passed to neighbouring Agia Triada. However, Phaistos continued to be the religious and cult centre of south Crete.

PHAISTOS

In 1450 BC there was another great catastrophe, not only in Phaistos but across the whole of Crete. The city of Phaistos recovered from the destruction. minted its own coins and continued to flourish for the next few centuries until the first century BC, when it was destroyed by neighbouring Gortys.

GORTYS

Gortys:

The Roman Capital of Crete: Town of Gortys and the oldest European codified Law System. Gortyn was the most powerful and prosperous city of Crete during the Hellenistic era, when it took hegemony of the island, dominating the entire valley of Messara while under Roman Rule it became the capital of the joint Province of Creta et Cyrenaica. The heart of Roman Gortyn is the Praetorium, the seat of the Roman Governor of Crete. There, the oldest Roman theater on Crete was excavated together with the oldest codified law system of Europe among other unique historic and legendary monuments, such as the evergreen Plane tree of  Crete, unique in the world. Other significant monuments arem, the Odeon and the majestic Basilica -dedicated to Saint Titus, the first Archbishop of Crete.

Gortys, also known as Gortyn or Gortyna is one of the most important cities in Crete with an unbroken history of 6,000 years and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece. During our visit in Gortys, you will see part of the church of St Titus. We continue straight on and admire the evergreen plane tree of Gortys, said to have shaded the wedding celebrations of Zeus and Europa.

Matala:

Matala is a village located 71 km south-west of Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Although it has become a popular tourist destination it still retains the charm and character of the quiet fishing village it started as at the beginning of the 20th-century, and the laid-back lifestyle of the hippies of the 60’s and 70’s lives on. Half the beach is fringed by tamarisk trees, leading the eye on to impressive formations of sandstone rock cliffs with their famous caves sliding into the sea at an odd angle, creating one of the most unusual beachscapes on the island. Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period. In the year 220 BC., In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the caves were used as tombs.

MATALA
SFENDONI CAVE

Sfendoni Cave

One of the most interesting caves on Crete is in the village of Zoniana, just 43 km from Heraklion and 52 km from Rethymnon. It’s a remarkable site, 630 metres above sea level and well worth a visit, replete with the full complement of stalactites and stalagmites in extraordinary formation. The cavern is protected by Unesco and well lit and laid out, The cave’s age is 14 million years. It has 16 rooms, with 145 metres of well-marked and safe walkways. Of particular interest are the calcium carbonate crystals that give off a peculiar glow.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge is located on the south-western part of the island; it is the largest in Europe and has a length of about 18 km. Samaria gorge cliffs’ are so close to each other and the top of the cliff seems like closed. The narrowest and simultaneously the most picturesque place is called “Portes” (gate) with cliffs that rise to a height of over 600 meters, while the width of the river gorge is just 3 m and the upper edge 9 m. Since 1962, the Samaria Gorge stated as a national park with its unique flora and fauna and it is possible to meet with amazing inhabitants like Kri-Kri goat, and a World’s Biosphere Reserve.

The village of Samariá lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village’s ancient church, Óssia María.

SAMARIA GORGE