Explore Crete 8 Days

Choose this unique package for Crete and you will be able to know the island that keeps the secrets of the Minoan Civilization, such as the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion where legends located the labyrinth of King Minos.

These Greece tours will offer you the possibility of visiting all the corners that the island of Crete has available to anyone who wants to visit it. You will visit important archaeological sites such as the Roman ruins of Gortys or the ancient Minoan palaces of Faistos  and Agia Triada.

On the way to Chania you will have the possibility to visit the important Necropolis of Armenoi or the Byzantine Monastery of Arkadi to finish your trip in the beautiful Venetian cities of Rethymnon and Chania, among many other things that will make this an unforgettable trip.

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN CRETE – HERAKLION
Arrival in Heraklion, transfer to your hotel and accommodation. Enjoy the afternoon free to visit the city.

DAY 2 – CITY TOUR: KNOSSOS PALACE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Breakfast at the hotel and departure for a panoramic tour of the city.

Heraklion is the capital of Crete, it has just over 150,000 inhabitants and its port is considered one of the most important in the Mediterranean.

The city of Heraklion is located near Knossos, the mythical capital of the legendary King Minos. Centuries later, under Venetian rule, Heraklion was known by the name of Candía, a word derived from the Greek word chandax which means canal-pit in reference to the pit that, together with the walls that surrounded the city, defended it from attackers.

During a panoramic walk through the most important monumental sites of Heraklion, part by bus and part on foot, you will pass through such emblematic places as the Venetian Castle, the Plaza de los Leones, the Town Hall, the church of San Tito, the Agora etc. and then visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

It is undoubtedly the most important museum in the world in Minoan art. It exhibits delicate works of art, of exceptional value and meaning, such as the famous Phaestus Disc, the Amphora of the Reapers, the frescoes representing different bullfighting scenes, a curious ceramic table from a game that reminds us of backgammon or to chess, statuettes of the fertility goddess, very fine pieces of jewelery whose designs would be envied by the best current jewelers, highlighting among them a gold piece representing two bees carrying a drop of honey between their paws together (one of the Minoan symbols) etc.

After the visit, departure to the ancient Minoan city of Knossos to discover its archaeological area.

It is one of the best examples of the Minoan civilization that flourished on the island of Crete and spread to other lands in the Aegean between 3,000 and 1,400 BC. C. The Minoan civilization is the oldest that appeared in the West and therefore in Europe and stands out for its high cultural and technological development. Universally well-known is the legend of the Minotaur, so many times reinterpreted in literature and art, which originated here in Knossos, which was not only a great palatial complex that functioned as a city-state but also a religious and administrative center. Due to the interconnected and terraced arrangement of the buildings and constructions that appeared when Sir Arthur Evans began excavating the site in 1900, it is easy to identify Knossos with the city of the mythical King Minos and the labyrinth where the Minotaur was hidden. In fact, the figure of the bull was not only sacred but was present in the life, games, ceremonies and artistic expressions of those people. This is borne out by the numerous bullfighting scenes in which the bull is part of a sacred game and challenge. Frescoes with various marine motifs often decorate the walls. After the visit, departure to Heraklion, arrival at the hotel and accommodation.

DAY 3 – GORTYS – Faistos – AGIA TRIADA – MATALA
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to the ancient city of Gortys, arrival and visit of the archaeological area. This city was inhabited from the Minoan era (3000 BC) until the 7th century AD. From the 6th century BC. C. was a city-state dominated by the Dorians. During the Roman occupation it became the administrative capital of the island of Crete and continued to prosper under Byzantine rule due to its strategic location, close to the fertile Messara plain and with ports to the west and south of the city.

The important ruins of the three-nave basilica of the 6th century church of San Tito are preserved from the Christian era. C. You can also see, protected by a roof and a fence, some limestone blocks in which one of the oldest codes of laws is engraved, the Code of Gortina, the most extensive that is known, dating from the 5th century. BC It is written in Cretan Doric dialect, with a total of 600 lines that read the first from left to right and the next from right to left and so on (this curious way of writing characteristic of archaic Greek is called bustrofedon). Gortina’s code of laws deals with all human aspects subject to legislation such as marriage, divorce, adoption, the duties and rights of slaves, etc …

Mythologically Gortys was the scene of the loves of Zeus and the princess Europe from whose union Minos, Radamanthis and Sarpidon were born. Tradition makes these three brothers the first kings and founders of the Minoan civilization. We continue heading towards the Faistos site.

Phaestus with its palace was the second most important city in Crete in the Minoan era after the city and palace of Knossos. The Festos Palace is located on a ridge from which you can see the fertile Messara Valley. Today, excavations have exposed the remains of two palaces, the first from 1900 B.C. which was destroyed by an earthquake and another built later and also razed, possibly by the explosion of the island of Thira (the current island of Santorini) in the year 1650 B.C.

The spectacular staircase that leads to the palace, the royal rooms, covered with plasterboard, the gigantic underground silos to store the cereal, even the remains of a foundry oven give a pale idea of ​​the magnificence that these palaces must have had. The found objects are exhibited in the Heraklion archaeological museum, among which the enigmatic disc of Festos stands out, a ceramic piece with inscriptions of linear type A, on both sides, still today without deciphering.

Then departure to Agia Triada, summer and recreation palace of the kings of Phaestos. The dimensions of the Agia Triada palace are smaller than those of other Minoan palaces, so architecturally it is not as impressive, but the objects found in the successive excavations have determined its importance in the past. Among other objects were found a large number of tablets written in one of the ancient Cretan writings, linear A (which has not yet been fully deciphered), sarcophagi decorated with fresco paintings that provide data and knowledge about the religion and beliefs of the ancient Cretans, ceramic pieces among which stand out the glass of the prince and the glass of the reapers, etc.

After the visit, continue to Matala, a coastal town that during the 1960s became one of the places of reference for the hippy movement. There they concentrated and lived in the natural caves of the hill that flanks Matala beach.

Return to Heraklion and accommodation.

DAY 4 – MALIA – KRITSA – GURNIA – SPINALONGA
Breakfast at the hotel and departure for the full day excursion.

Arrival in the ancient Minoan city of Malia and visit of the archaeological area. The Palace of Malia, together with the Palace of Knossos and that of Festos is one of the great examples of the Minoan civilization. Contemporary of the first palaces of the mentioned places, its construction is located around the year 2000 BC, so it would belong, according to the traditional classification, to the ancient Minoan period III or the ancient Minoan I. It was reformed between the years 1700 and 1550 a . C. and was finally abandoned around 1450 B.C. In Malia were found some beautiful carved swords and the famous gold earring representing two bees carrying a drop of honey around a honeycomb, a jewel of timeless beauty and design.

After the visit, we will make a stop outside the town of Kritsa to visit the wonderful Byzantine church of the Panagía Kerá. Located in the middle of the olive groves, it was built in the 13th century. The frescoes, which are kept in very good condition, adorn the church walls and date from the first half of the 14th century.

Next, we will visit the city of Gurnia which is one of the most interesting archaeological complexes in Crete, which dates back to the Minoan era between 1,750 and 1,490 BC.

The last stop will be the island of Spinalonga located at the entrance of the Mirabelo Bay, a strategic position whose importance was soon realized by the Venetians who built a group of walls formed by strong bastions that are still in very good condition. After centuries of Venetian and Ottoman occupation, the Autonomous State of Crete decided in 1903 to create a Hospital for sufferers of Hansen’s disease or, as it is better known, for lepers, which operated until 1957, having received until then thousands of lepers of Crete and the rest of Greece.

Return to Heraklion and accommodation.

DAY 5 – ARKADI – ARMENOI – RETHYMNON – CHANIA
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to Arkadi, arrival and visit of the Byzantine monastery. This beautiful monastery preserves its church, with a magnificent 16th century doorway, although what makes it special is that it became and remains a symbol of Greek resistance against the Turkish occupation.

The fact was that during the insurrection of the year 1866 numerous Christian faithful took refuge in it, fleeing from the religious persecutions undertaken by the Turks. On November 9 of that same year, after valiantly resisting the attacks of a much larger Ottoman army for two days, Abbot Gabriel at the time when the invaders were already fighting inside the monastery ordered the powder keg to be flown, while at the same time perishing under siege and besiegers, the former preferring death to slavery. A commemorative monument remembers this feat.

After the visit of the monastery we continue to Armenoi, where we will visit its necropolis. It is located 9 km south of the city of Rethymnon, on one of the roads that connects the north coast with the south of the island. It is the largest Late Minoan period cemetery, that is, from the period between 1400 and 1200 BC. Systematic excavations began in 1969 and by 2012 231 Tholoi-type tombs had been discovered, vaulted undergrounds and a corridor leading to their entrance.

The excavations offered a wide variety of finds that were placed as offerings, including ceramic vessels, bronze weapons, and gold and silver jewelry.

After this visit, departure to the city of Réthymnon, arrival and visit of the city. Réthymnon has its origin at the beginning of the Minoan culture, around 3000 BC. Although it reached its greatest splendor in the 16th century under Venetian rule when it became a refuge for intellectuals and scholars fleeing from the Ottoman-occupied Constantinople since 1453. In this way Réthymnon became the intellectual capital of the Island of crete. To avoid the continuous incursions of the Turkish pirates (Barbarossa sacked the city in 1538) the Venetians built an enormous fortress in the port, La Fortezza, well preserved to this day and where concerts are now held in the open air. The old town, crowded under the fortress, is a set of alleys with Venetian-style houses, whose trellises allow you to walk in their shade, a true wonder for the walker. Important monuments stand out in the city such as the Venetian Fountain in Rimondi, the elegant Venetian Lotzia (lodge), the picturesque Venetian port, etc …

Departure to Chania and accommodation at the hotel.

DAY 6 – CHANIA – AKROTIRI – OLD CITY OF APTERA – CHANIA
Breakfast and departure to Akrotiri, a small rocky peninsula located to the east of the city of Chania where numerous monasteries and archaeological sites are found.

The Akrotiri peninsula is one of the most popular spots for the panoramic view it offers. Here in the little church of Profitis Ilias is the grave of the famous Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelo, one of the most important figures in modern Greek history. In the same place is the statue of Spyros Kayales, a great character from the recent revolutionary history of Crete.

The next stop will be the Agia Triada or Tsangaroli monastery, one of the most impressive religious monuments that can be seen in Crete. The monastery was built in 1634 by brothers Lavrentio and Jeremia Tsangaroli, on the site of which was a small church dedicated to the Holy Apostles. In 1645, when the Turks invaded Crete, work on the monastery was interrupted.

Later, in the Greek revolution of 1821, the monks who lived in the monastery managed to escape, but were forced to leave behind all the historical remains and manuscripts they had collected, which were burned by the Turks. After the Greek revolution ended, the monastery was restored and the construction work was completed.

After visiting the monastery we will arrive at the Allies Cemetery, where the bodies of 1527 English, New Zealand and Australian soldiers who fell defending the freedom of Crete during the Second World War lie. The cemetery is maintained by the State Commission to commemorate all those who died fighting for the Cretan cause. The ancient city-state of Aptera is located to the west of the island, with beautiful views of the bay and the port of Suda. According to myth, a musical contest between the muses and mermaids took place in Aptera. In Aptera we can admire the remains of some Roman cisterns, the Monastery of San Georgio and an Ottoman castle. Due to its geographical position, Aptera is above all one of the best hostels in the Chania region.

After the visit, return to the hotel in Chania and accommodation.

DAY 7 – CHANIA- Athens
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to visit the city of Chania. The present-day city of Chania was built on ancient Kydonia, the most powerful city in western Crete, considered “the mother of the other cities of Crete” and which competed with its rivals Knossos and Gortina, especially during the wars that took place between them in 171 BC

The first populations of Kydonia date back to prehistoric times. Its ancient origin and name are confused with mythology since this account that it was Kydon, son of the god Hermes who founded and gave the city its name.

Chania was occupied by the Venetians in 1252 and during the period that the Venetian rule lasted, the city was equipped with fortifications such as the wall and a castle and important buildings such as the cathedral, the governor’s palace and numerous houses of wealthy merchants were built. .

In 1537 it was attacked by the Turkish privateer Barbarossa and the city decided to fortify itself better for what they called the famous Veronese Renaissance architect, Sanmicheli architect, who reinforced the defenses. In spite of everything, the strong walls could not prevent it from falling into Ottoman hands in 1645 after 55 days of harsh siege.

His resistance to Ottoman rule caused him to suffer numerous reprisals, but finally, on February 15, 1897, an army sent by the European powers of the time (England, France, Italy and Russia) ended the conflicts; The Greek Prince George, who made his triumphal entry into the city, was appointed as the highest authority. Chania and its region joined the newly born Greek homeland in 1912 and until 1971 it was the administrative capital of the island that would later go to Heraklion.

One of the most interesting places in the city of Chania is the picturesque Venetian port, built from the 13th century and whose western bastion is now bordered by the terraces of numerous cafes and restaurants.

The Chania Archaeological Museum reflects the history of the city from the Neolithic era. It displays Minoan ceramics, painted sarcophagi, terracotta from the archaic, classical and Hellenistic periods, as well as an extensive and interesting collection of coins from the same periods. As for sculpture, the most interesting pieces are those from the Ascleopion of Lissos, an important thermal center under Roman rule, including that of an ephebe and a representation of the goddess Aphrodite.

Once the visit is finished, transfer to airport and flight to Athens. End of our services.

The price includes:

Arrival and departure transfers in Crete
4 nights in Heraklion on a bed and breakfast basis
3 nights in Chania bed and breakfast
Bus transfers during the cultural circuit
Guide in Spanish during the cultural circuit
Entrance fees to the archaeological sites mentioned in the program
Travel assistance insurance with MAPFRE
Price does not include:

Plane tickets (Consult according to departure city)
Transfers not specified
Suggested or optional excursions
Any other concept not indicated in “the price includes”

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