The minoan palace of knossos

The famous Minoan Palace of Knossos is located about 5-6 km south of the city of Iraklion. Knossos was the most impressive and luxurious building that someone could see all over Europe during Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC).The excavations were conducted at first by Minos Kalokairinos and then by the Englishman Sir Arthur Evans.

      The Palace was built twice, every time even more beautiful. It covered an area of 22,000 sq.m. About 1400 rooms could be seen in the original palace and 300 people lived in them (the Royal family of Knossos and their servants). The king was called Minos, son of Zeus.On the island of Crete there are 4 Minoan Palaces but the Palace of Knossos is the greatest of all. All palaces have common characteristics in their courtyards, temples and storerooms.

      In Knossos one can see 2 big paved courtyards, many storerooms, temples, private rooms and a theater. Some parts of the Palace were 4-5 floors high. Staircases with shallow alabaster steps led on the upper or underground floors.The visitors can see openings (windows, doors, light-wells) all over the Palace. Minoans loved nature and lovely frescoes decorate the walls of the Palace. Their themes were taken from the everyday life or from nature itself.

      It is said that no visitor could enter the Palace without someone to guide him around. The reason is that no one could find his way around the famous "labyrinth".This name comes from the word "Lavrys" which means "double axe". Axes were used a lot in everyday life and many of them were found in the palace or even inscribed on the walls of Knossos. So, Labyrinth means the "House of the double axes", or the Palace itself.It is really exciting to pay a visit to the Minoan Palace of Knossos and admire the King's and the Queen's apartments with the lovely decoration of blue dolphins.

      You may also see the oldest throne in Europe: the alabaster-made throne of King Minos in the throne room.

The archaeological museum (heraklio)

The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Herakleion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide.
The museum, located in the town centre, was built between 1937 and 1940 by architect Patroklos Karantinos on a site previously occupied by the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by earthquake in 1856. The museum's antiseismic building is an important example of modernist architecture and was awarded a Bauhaus commendation. Karantinos applied the principles of modern architecture to the specific needs of a museum by providing good lighting from the skylights above and along the top of the walls, and facilitating the easy flow of large groups of people. He also anticipated future extensions to the museum. The colours and construction materials, such as the veined polychrome marbles, recall certain Minoan wall-paintings which imitate marble revetment. The two-storeyed building has large exhibition spaces, laboratories, a drawing room, a library, offices and a special department, the so-called Scientific Collection, where numerous finds are stored and studied. The museum shop, run by the Archaeological Receipts Fund, sells museum copies, books, postcards and slides. There is also a cafe.
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture and its purpose is to acquire, safeguard, conserve, record, study, publish, display and promote Cretan artefacts from the Prehistoric to the Late Roman periods. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions in Greece and abroad, collaborates with scientific and scholarly institutions, and houses a variety of cultural events

It is an islet at the entrance of the Elounta bay. In antiquity there was a fortress of the Olounites. In 1579 the Venetians built a mighty fortress there, which remained under their rule even after the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1669. During the last years of the Ottoman occupation, it was a safe refuge of Ottoman families. In 1903, by law of the Cretan government, it was appointed as thte place of stay for the lepers of Crete.


Matala is a small village with many tourist facilities about 70 km south of Heraklion. The Minoan Palace of Festos is 7 km east of Matala and the harbour of Festos used to be at the nearby Komos in the Minoan period. There is a nice sandy beach in Matala and it attracts a lot of visitors in the summer months.
Matala has become famous for the artificial caves, carved into the rocks, north of the coast. These caves were first inhabited during the prehistoric period. Tombs found in the caves date from Greek, Roman and Early Christian times.
During the 70's the caves were hosting an international hippie community. That was a cultural shock for the local community, which had met no tourists before the hippies arrived. Great musicians like Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell have been here for some time composing beautiful songs about the beauty of the bay of Matala.
To day the entrance to the caves of Matala is free but overnight stay is not allowed. The terrain is rather rough, so avoid slippery shoes. Most of the caves are not deep, so a torchlight won't be necessary.

Lassithi Plateau and The Dikteon Cave

The Lassithi Plateau is a huge fertile plain, covering around 25,000 square kilometers, in the Diktian mountains in the Eastern prefecture of Lassithi. Hundreds of white windmills traditionally were used to irrigate the patchwork of green and yellow fields which make up the fertile plateau, but now most lie as relics to their past.

Lassithi plateau is the highest inhabited plateau in Greece (800m), a visit to this beautiful mountainous area should include stops at the picturesque villages of Krassi with it’s giant plane tree in the village square said to be the oldest tree in Crete, and Mohos where the church of the Panayia has Byzantine icons and frescoes.

The impressive Dikteon Cave (Cave of Psychro), the legendary birthplace of Zeus, is situated at a height of 1025m, west of the village of Psychro, on the side of a mountain above the beautiful plateau of Lassithi. The cave is accessed by a steep path, 20 minutes climb, to the narrow entrance of the cave. Once inside the cave follow a steep descent of 60m to reach an underground pool and various chambers with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Villa Agapi