Crete: what island sights to see first
For those who are interested in unusual and interesting places, the best option for recreation will be Crete. Most of the Greek myths and legends are associated with this island, and its nature is amazing and diverse.
A trip to this part of Greece is not only an opportunity to relax on the best beaches of the Mediterranean, but also a chance to see unique sights that are known all over the world. Conveniently, tourists have a choice: you can go to the places of interest by car or join one of the many excursions.
So what is a must see when hitting Crete? The most attractive places for tourists:
- The sunken city of Olus;
- Knossos palace;
- The labyrinth of the Minotaur;
- Samaria Gorge;
- Lakes Kurna and Voulismeni;
- Dikteyskaya cave;
- Spinalonga Island;
- City Gortyna;
- Monasteries of Kera Kordiotissa and Preveli;
- Museum of Archeology;
- City water park.
A trip to each of these places will be a real adventure, which you will remember for a long time.
Mysterious Olus — a city at the bottom of the ocean
This port settlement, located in the east of Crete. It originally belonged to Greece, then passed to the ancient Romans. Olous completely disappeared under water after a strong earthquake.
Today, guests of Crete have the opportunity to enjoy the views of the remains of an ancient civilization. Using the equipment for diving, you can even see the ruins of buildings built in different architectural styles. You will be able to touch the history of ancient Greece, to feel the power that this great civilization possessed. That is why, once on Crete, you must make a trip to the seabed.
It is believed that this famous castle — the foundation of Knossos, the most ancient city of Greece. It is located in the north of the island, near modern Heraklion. It can be easily reached by car.
The Palace of Knossos was destroyed several times by strong fires and earthquakes, but it was restored. The last reconstruction was carried out at the beginning of the last century, when Evans, an archaeologist from England, acquired the territory, which he considered to be the location of the palace.
He worked for several years to recreate some of the fragments, and now the Palace of Knossos is a famous landmark, which tourists from all over the world come to see. It should be noted that it is not known for certain whether the reconstruction corresponds to the original buildings.
Labyrinth of the Minotaur
Anyone familiar with the myths of ancient Greece should visit this place. Wandering through the back streets of the labyrinth, you can imagine yourself as Theseus, the hero of Crete, who freed the inhabitants of the island from the monster and saved the beautiful Ariadne from captivity. The labyrinth is located in the north, where you can drive yourself by car or as part of a tour group.
This is the largest gorge in Europe, which is one of the famous landmarks of Crete. Be sure to visit him! Scientists proved that the gorge was inhabited by people from the most ancient times and was probably the first human habitat in Greece.
Thanks to its unique flora and fauna, the Samaria Gorge became a national park and reserve in the middle of the last century. The local hiking trail is so popular that traffic jams periodically arise, because the number of visitors can reach up to three thousand.
In winter and springtime, the Samaria Gorge is closed to the public, since this is the rainy season in Crete, which is why the bottom turns into a water flow. In addition, there is a danger of breaking stones from the walls. In summer and autumn you can get here any day.
Kurna and Voulismeni — freshwater lakes
These are natural attractions that are worth a visit to all who come to Crete. Interesting facts are connected with each of the lakes.
Voulismeni has an almost perfect rounded shape, its depth exceeds 60 m. According to local beliefs, its bottom was never found. This lake was chosen as the place to swim in Athens. The reservoir was once studied by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a famous explorer from France.
Another famous lake located on the island of Crete — Kurna. It is the habitat of turtles. For this reason, the reservoir is included in the largest European program for the protection of natural beauty. Water from the lake can be drunk. True, it is desirable to take it from the other side of the reservoir, where there are no tourists. This lake is a favorite bathing spot for both locals and guests of Crete.
One of the best sights of Crete, created by nature itself is the Cave of Psychro. It also bears the name of Dikteryskoy, named after the mountain in which it is located. According to the legends, it was she who became the birthplace of Zeus, the most revered god of the Greeks. Scientists here have found many ancient symbols depicting the Thunderer.
Today this cave is one of the most visited on the island of Crete. Tourists first get into her «lobby», and then into the «main hall». Mysterious lights show stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a beautiful lake inside the mountain, through which small bridges are thrown.
You can take a car to the Dikty Mountains, leave the vehicles in the parking lot, and do the rest of the way to the cave on foot or on rented donkeys.
Spinalonga — the mysterious island fortress
This territory of Crete was deserted until the XVI century. Then the Venetians discovered here large deposits of salt. They built a fortress, which was to serve as a defense against pirate and Turkish invasions.
The island has a rich history which is represented by preserved buildings and defenses. It is also worth knowing that for about 50 years Lepers were exiled to Spinalonga. In this case, the place was the first in Crete, where they began to use electricity. Thus, it is worth seeing every Spinalonga tourist.
Gortyna — a city of ancient times
This place is one of the most important for archaeologists, not only in Crete, but throughout the country. It was here that the remains of various cultures were found: Greece, Rome, Egypt. In addition, there is a labyrinth, which was formed as a result of material extraction for the construction of the city itself, but it is closed for tourists.
Gortyna is located 50 km from the capital of Crete, and you can easily reach it by car, which can be rented.
Monastery Kera Kordiotissa
Few tourists from Crete get here. Despite the lack of great popularity, this place is sacred to believers. After all, the icon of the Virgin of the Heart is kept here, which, despite being a copy, has the same miraculous properties as the original.
This is a place where you can feel the peace and tranquility, which is important for those who want to relax from the city rush and noise.
Monastery of Preveli
This place is more popular with tourists than the monastery of Kera Kordiotissa. There are more than a hundred ancient icons, an iconostasis, as well as a sacred vessel. The most famous exhibit is the miraculous cross of Ephraim.
In fact, there are two monasteries here, between which there is 3 km. The first of these, named Kato Preveli, is a landmark, while the second (Piso Preveli) is still functioning, representing the residence of the monks.
This temple was closed to tourists for a long time, and only in 2013, visits were allowed. Now tourists come here to see the chapel, the crypt, the source of holy water and a small zoo, which is monitored. There is also a museum with manuscripts, books and other religious items. In the local shop you can buy small souvenirs. Getting here will turn out by public transport or by car.
Museum of Archeology
If you are seriously interested in the history of Crete, go to the city of Agios Nikolaos. The museum, located there, consists of 4 large rooms filled with exhibits that offer to see the entire history of the island. They belong to different styles and eras, and each of them complements the concept of life and life of Crete.
The most famous exhibits:
- statuette of the goddess Mithra;
- the skull of a young Roman athlete who was discovered near the city.
They are the hallmark of the museum.
Unlike natural objects and ancient buildings, here you will get a modern rest in the best traditions of water entertainment. Many diverse attractions will satisfy the highest demands.
Here you can spend the whole day enjoying the water activities and dining in small cafes right on the territory of the water park.
Here is a list of the best attractions that Crete offers to its guests. Visiting each of them, you will get unforgettable impressions that will warm you for a long time in the cold months.