Turn back the hands of time and go history hunting in Crete. This charming Greek island is awash with archaeological treasures, so it’s easy to make a list of the must-visit cultural sites.
With so many different settlers in Greece, you’ll unearth remnants from many bygone eras. Minoan, Ottoman and Roman relics are all tumbled in with Ancient Greek artefacts that date back to centuries ago.
Between Heraklion and Chania, you’ll have a plethora of historical sites to tick off. To help you along your way and plot how to get from A to B, we’ve picked out five of the most fantastic landmarks and attractions for culture-steeped days out.
Take a look at our top picks below...
The Palace of Knossos
Topping the charts for incredible Cretan history is the Palace of Knossos. Let’s retrace the steps of the island’s inhabitants to when the Minoan civilisation would’ve been in town. While they made their mark on Greece in many ways, this palatial complex is especially incredible. Through fascinating frescoes and preserved labyrinths, pieces of pottery, hand-crafted jewellery and metalwork somehow remained intact enough to be dusted off during Knossos’ original excavation. While an earthquake caused the palace’s destruction in 1700, you’ll find it remarkable how much you’re still able to walk around.
Chania Old Town
Thanks to Venetian influence, Chania Old Town and its Italian-esque harbour offers something a little different for history buffs. You’ll notice nods to Turkish culture too. Churches and mosques are also interlaced with traditional tavernas and shops, so you can expect a melting pot of old and new elements. Trace the Venetian walls, cross off the 16th-century lighthouse and visit Kastelli. This Byzantine fortress boasts superb views of the port.
If you work up an appetite, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to a great Greek feast. Opt for classic oil-drizzled salads for something light or tuck into garlicky chicken gyros or even a sumptuous seafood platter.
A semi-circular slice of ancient history awaits at Aptera. Dense olive groves and the imposing White Mountains provide a staggering backdrop to this time-treasured theatre. It’s located just under 20km from Chania Old Town, so you’re in for a rural inland adventure along the way. Although the complex isn’t very large, it’s still worth uncovering this key component in Chania’s past.
Set sail to Spinalonga Island and prepare for a big dose of history. Sparkling navy waters surround what was once known as ‘Leper Island’, given its former use as a residence for people with Hansen’s Disease who needed a place to safely isolate.
While some visitors go to wander around and then have a quick swim, there’s a Venetian fort with your name on it. The lookout was originally built to help to signal advanced warning of hostile ships that were approaching, in order to safeguard the locals.
Monastery of Arkadi
Welcome to a place that had a big hand in Crete’s resistance against the Ottoman rule. The Eastern Orthodox Monastery of Arkadi now stands as symbol of this revolt. The timeline of change goes right back to 1866, but the church has stood proud since the 16th century. Come and see this resplendent ecclesiastical building for yourself. You can even peer inside.
So, there you have it. Now you can begin planning your trip to these five must-sees. Experience all the history the captivating island of Crete has to offer when you take flight with Jet2.com or opt for the full package with Jet2holidays.
Posted: 25th Jun 2020.