Exploring Crete, the largest island in Greece

Crete, the southernmost of the Greek islands, enjoys crystal clear blue waters, sandy beaches and radiant sunshine.  In the north coast there are many tourist centers along with cities full of history such as Rethymno and Chania.

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The southern coast of Crete, especially in the southwest, is less urbanized. Four large mountain ranges run east to west forming the backbone of a 255 km long island.  A mountaineers' paradise, Crete, offers beautiful corners and formidable gorges. Its capital, Heraklion, is identified by its Archaeological Museum, which is not far from Knossos, the greatest of Cretan Minoan palaces.

Moving around in Crete, Greece

The provincial capitals of Chania, Rethymno and Agios Nikolaos are the transportation hubs of the respective regions. In Crete, the bus service network is efficient, and several regular bus lines run along the north coast. To traverse the island, the most suitable means of transport is the car, although the taxi fares are also reasonable. Nowadays, the mountain roads, between the towns, are appropriately tarmacked.

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What to visit in Heraklion

When you arrive in Crete you must explore the important monuments of its great history. The most important, without a doubt, is the Palace of Knossos, the most important city in Crete during the Minoan civilization, which reached its utmost splendor in the second millennium BC.  Knossos is the oldest palace complex in Europe and is located about five kilometers southeast of the modern city of Heraklion and west of the Kairatos River. Homer mentions Knossos as the place where Minos reigned. Also, according to the myth, it was here where the Cretan Labyrinth, made by Daedalus to shut away the fierce Minotaur, was located.

A tour of the Amari valley

In addition to Knossos in Heraklion, Rethymnon, Chania, Elafonisi Island and the beautiful Seitan beach (mentioned in the previous article, click here in Crete, there is also the Amari Valley. Guarded to the east by the peaks of Mount Idi or Psiloritis, this valley offers incredible views of the ridges, the wide green valleys and the gorges of the region. A tangle of well paved winding roads connects the numerous farming communities of Amari, where even today, men with mustaches, high-top boots and buttoned pants (vrakes) can be seen dozing off or playing tavli (blackgammon) in front of the taverns. The region is dotted with shrines, churches, and monasteries with Byzantine frescoes and icons. Many villages of Amari, bastion of the Cretan resistance, were ravaged during World War II.

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