Crete attractions include Knossos, town of Chania, Rethymno’s Venetian fortress, Samaria Gorge, and a cruise to Kap Tripiti.
Knossos, also known as the Palace of Knossos, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological excavation in Crete, the ancient Minoan civilization‘s ceremonial and political center.
The excavation is close to the biggest city in Crete, Heraklion, and it has been restored over the years into a tourist friendly condition, which is why it has become one of Crete’s main attractions.
According to a Greek legend, Knossos is the area, that also contains the famous labyrinth, which Crete’s King Minos built in order to contain a Minotaur.
The location has been inhabited from the Neolithic period (around 7000 BC), with the palace having been built by the Europe’s oldest culture, the Minoans, between 1700 and 1400 BC.
Chania, meanwhile, is an ancient Venetian port city, and today, in fact, the second largest city in Crete.
Most of the city’s old buildings are from 13th century, when the region was under Venetian control, due to which there are so many cultural and architectural links to Venice here.
When Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell (to the Ottoman Empire) in 1453, many of its most important inhabitants fled the chaos to Crete and Chania.
Due to these influences, the city’s architecture contains elements from:
- Venetian, and
- classical Greek styles.
Later period under Ottoman control added mosques, public baths, and fountains to the city.
Of Crete attractions, Rethymno’s Venetian fortress, also known as “Fortezza“, is one of the biggest and best preserved ancient fortifications on the island of Crete.
The city, similarly to Chania, began to flourish under the Venetian period in the 13th century, which is the period when many of the town’s buildings were constructed.
Fortezza’s construction, however, began in 1570 by the Venetian rulers, to protect Rethymno from Ottoman attacks.
When it was completed, the fortress complex contained several buildings, including…
- a Venetian governor’s house,
- barracks for soldiers,
- a church, and
- several wells.
Samaria Gorge, on the other hand, is part of Samaria National Park, within the White Mountains in Western Crete.
The gorge has been formed by a small river that flows between the White Mountains and the Volakias mountain range.
Through the gorge goes a famous walking route, with a total length of about 16 km (9.9 miles).
The walking route is divided into two sections, with the first 3 km (1.8 miles) being from the park entrance to Agia Roumeli, and the remaining 13 km (8.1 miles) a trail through the gorge itself.
Highlights within the trail include a section known as “Iron Gates”, where the gorge has a width of only four meters (13 ft) and a height, at that point, of around 500 meters (1,640 ft).
The easiest way to visit the gorge is to participate on a guided trip, organized by one of the available tour operators…
…with these packages often including pickup from your hotel and other transports.
However, you can also make a trip on your own, as from Chania’s Central Bus Station, there are several daily bus connections to the gorge.
Crete attractions also feature a cruise to Kap Tripiti (sfakia-crete.com/ferries.html) on the island of Gavdos, which is the southernmost point of Europe…
…and a great place to enjoy one of the Crete’s most beautiful islands.
The southernmost point is marked by a giant chair, an excellent spot to take some memorable photos.
Gavdos island also has:
- several beautiful & tranquil beaches, especially at Potamos Bay, and
- at the island’s highest point, Faros, there is an idyllic lighthouse, now operating as a museum.
Gavdos island ferries depart from Sfakia, in the province of Chania.