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Crete is increbible


Worthy to see in Crete

Crete is a large island with much to see and do. To see the highlights of the entire island will take about two weeks. To explore all that in more depth would take a good month. Distances (and driving times) from one highlight to another can be long.

Landscapes. Unless you stay only in an all-inclusive beach resort, you will have to drive places. This reveals the diversity and beauty of the Cretan landscapes. Tall mountains rise steeply from the sea and spectacular views of the sea are available from many points. Lush valleys and mountainsides support olive groves, vineyards, orange and lemon orchards, fields of artichokes, and olive trees and olive trees. There are dramatic gorges and idyllic beaches. There are thickly forested areas and desert-like areas filled with exotic cacti and palm trees.


Ruins of ancient Minoan civilization.
The Palace of Knossos in Knossos is by far the most extensive and famous, and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion contains wonderful treasure. The ruins of Phaistos, Gortys, and the Palace of Malia Mallia are also impressive. But the island is covered with these treasures, and there are many hidden gems, like the ruins of Gournia Gournia. These sites (as well as historic monasteries and other sites of interest) are marked with brown road signs in both English and Greek.


World-class archeological, art, and historical museums are found in all the big cities, including Chania, Rethymnon, and Heraklion. But you will also find fascinating small museums even in the most remote small villages. If you see a sign in a small village that advertises a "folklore" or "traditional house" museum, give it a try. You are apt to be treated to a walk back in time to 19th and early 20th century life on the island, with lovingly preserved artifacts.




Spinalonga Island. Located in the Elounda Bay in eastern Crete, this island is fascinating. It was a Venetian fortress that was later occupied by the Turkish. It was the last Turkish outpost of the Ottoman Empire on the island. In 1903, it was turned into a leper colony, which was made famous in the novel "The Island" by Victoria Hislop. The novel was later made into a television mini-series. In 1957, after a cure was found for leprosy, the island was abandoned. Today it is open to tourists, and provides a fascinating look at the architecture of all the periods and a look into the lives of the lepers who were exiled there.


Monasteries. These are found all over the island. They are almost all marked by brown road signs, and almost all will allow visitors. If you pass by a sign, it is worth trying to go in. The structures are lovely, and there is almost always a small museum and a beautiful church with ornate frescoes and decorations. One of the most accessible and elaborate is the St. George of Selinari Monastery, located on the main National Road between Malia and Agis Nikolaos. Here is a very wide place in the highway with plenty of parking, and a souvlaki truck that provides quick snack for truck drivers and fresh barbecue for those with more time. There are clean toilets and a gift shop selling icons and religious articles. Above this is the monastery itself, which is a massive Byzantine complex.


Caves. The island is riddled with more than 3,000 caves. Some are quite famous, like the cave in southwestern Crete where St. Paul lived and preached after he was supposedly washed up on the island after a hurricane. Another famous (and very accessible) cave is the cave of Milatos. Milatos is a small village in the Lasithi Province, and the cave above the village is where villagers fled from the Turks in 1823. They lasted for almost two weeks, but most were eventually killed or sold into slavery. Inside the cave is a small white chapel and an ossuary containing the supposed bones of those killed. If you see a sign for a cave, give it a try. You should have sensible shoes and a flashlight.

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