Discover the top monuments and museums you must see when visiting Crete. Find brief info about these top destinations on Crete, that you can easily access with your rented car. Starting to drive directly from the airport or you can pick it up from your hotel.
The Minoans were clever folks. Above the extensive Messara Plain, which was then and still is the breadbasket of Crete, they constructed their ruler's main sanctum and palace on a hill surveying everything. Italian archaeologists uncovered the complex in Festos (alternately written as Phaistos or Faistos). It is much smaller than the complex at Knossos. You will hardly need more than 45 minutes for a visit.
Knossos - Palace
Knossos- palace site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos (Μίνως Καλοκαιρινός). The excavations in Knossos began in AD 1900 by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851- 1941) and his team, and they continued for 35 years. The palace was excavated and partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B, to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace, Evans developed de novo an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan.
The Lasithi Plateau stretches (11 km (6.8 mi) in the E-W direction and 6 km (3.7 mi) in the N-S direction. It is approximately 70 km (43 mi) east of Heraklion and lies at an average altitude of 840 m (2,760 ft). Winters can be harsh and snow on the plain and surrounding mountains can persist until mid-spring. The plateau is famous for its white-sailed windmills, (more accurately, wind-pumps), a local invention that has been used for two centuries to irrigate the land. Despite their vast number (some 10,000) in the past, most of them have been abandoned nowadays in favour of modern diesel and electrical pumps. Because the water table is close to the surface of the ground, all burials in cemeteries are above ground, in a stone mausoleum, or a stone box with decorations. This is because the Lasithi-plateau is endorheic, and there is an impermeable rock just below the surface of the ground.
Archaeological Museum Herakleion
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Herakleion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide.
The museum, located in the town centre, was built between 1937 and 1940 by architect Patroklos Karantinos on a site previously occupied by the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1856.