Crete, the largest island in Greece, is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Mediterranean. An island with a thousand faces that combines everything a traveller might ask for: a long and varied history, major attractions, a genuine culture of its own, magnificent nature, a mild climate, famous hospitality, a high level of infrastructure for tourism, cosmopolitan resorts and pristine, unexplored corners.
On Crete flourished the first prehistoric civilization of note on European soil, that of the Minoan Bronze-Age, with its majestic palaces that can be visited today (Knossos, Festos, Zakros, Malia etc.). In the long history of the island a multitude of different cultures and conquerors have passed through, leaving behind important monuments and attractions scattered throughout the island. As a result present-day Crete has a high level of historical, archaeological and cultural points of interest for the visitor.
At the same time Crete stands out as a destination for its unique natural environment. On one hand, a seemingly endless and indented coastline offers countless beaches for each and every taste: organized or otherwise, crowded or deserted. Some are even world famous: Balos, Elafonissi, Vai, Elounda, Falasarna etc.
At the other extreme, there is the spine of high mountains which are ideal for hiking and mountaineering. Gorges innumerable to wander through, caves to explore, fertile valleys to appreciate: all waiting the visitor’s glance. And linking all, those scenic trails that tie natural beauty to cultural attractions to blissful repose.
The heart of Crete beats in its cities: from Chania, the Venice of the East, through Renaissance Rethymno, to cosmopolitan Heraklion, on to bijoux Aghios Nikolaos and ultimately to picturesque Sitia and Ierapetra. Each Cretan city has its own character, emerging from its rich history, a vigorous modern being and of course the contemporary tourist infrastructure.
Meet Crete too through its world-famous gastronomy: both delicious and healthy! Discover the Cretan culture through its traditional music, dances and customs that are still alive on the island! Enjoy the famous Cretan hospitality that comes open-handed from Zeus Xenios, King of gods (born here, in the mountains of Crete: a local lad made good …)!
The Old Town of Chania
The old town of Chania embodies the long history of the city; in the picturesque alleys, visitors can see the marks left by every civilization that has settled here for a period of time in the past. Venetian, Ottoman, Neoclassical monuments and architectural elements, old neighbourhoods, historical sites and a lot of local colour characterize the old town of Chania, which is justly called by some “Venice of the East”. It used to be surrounded by walls, however only parts of them survive today. It extends inland from the Venetian port and it includes the districts of Topanas, Splantzia, Kasteli, Santrivani and the Jewish quarter. The old town of Chania, full of different sounds and colours, figures in every visitor’s photographs. The Venetian and Turkish monuments, the neoclassical buildings, the narrow alleys with balconies full of flowers, the traditional knife shops and Cretan boot shops, the promenade along the Venetian port, the lively restaurants and cafes, all make up a vivid picture of a historical city that remembers the past and celebrates the present. In front of the city, there is the Venetian port of Chania, including the Venetian lighthouse, is one of the symbols of the city and a favourite walking area for locals and visitors alike.
The Minoan Palace of Knossos
Knossos, the largest and most brilliant centre of the Minoan civilization, is located 5 kilometres south of the historical centre of the city of Heraklion. In the labyrinthine arrangement of corridors and rooms of the palace complex, many scholars have visualised the famous Minoan “Labyrinth”. Such a notion of the existence of a labyrinth may be only a mythological remembrance of a great civilization, however one could say that it really does correspond to the architectural structure which can be seen today in Knossos. Twisting corridors and stairwells which used to connect as many as five storeys, create a truly labyrinthine complex. There, visitors can admire important architectural innovations, such as water supply systems and sewer networks, shafts for the lighting and ventilation of the lower levels of the palace complex, and rooms equipped with baths and sanitary facilities that almost match modern constructions in ingenuity and function. It is believed that the first palace complex of Knossos was probably built in the 19th century BC and was destroyed in the 17th century BC. It was later rebuilt (16th century BC) in a remarkable, functional way, as one can ascertain by seeing the surviving ruins. In the mid 15th century BC, Knossos is believed to have reached its acme, which lasted until approximately 1450 BC; then, an extensive natural disaster occurred, probably due to an eruption of the volcano of Santorini(known as the “Thera eruption”).
Fagotto Jazz Bar
One of the oldest and most well known jazz bars in the city located in a wonderful Venetian building of the 15th century. While you enjoying your cocktail drinks, the music plays jazz, swing and blues rhythms. Often, small scale and atmospheric live music shows take place here.