Crete is a great choice for a luxury holiday in Greece, and if you’re planning a trip to Crete, don’t miss the chance to visit some of its top historical sites.
From ruined palaces to archaeological museums, the variety is utterly fantastic – here’s a list of the places you really shouldn’t miss while you’re here:
Historical Attractions In Crete Greece
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
Crete is home to loads of great museums, but the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is probably its best.
The downside is that it’s currently undergoing refurbishment, so at the moment you can only see a restricted collection, but it’s well worth heading to anyway.
Plus, since it’s widely regarded as one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe, it can hardly be left off the list!
It covers Crete’s history from the Neolithic period right up to late Roman times, and is home to some real treasures (including gems found at some of the sites below).
Among the top things to look out for is the brilliantly-named Bull-Leaping Frog Fresco – which is actually a picture of an acrobat – and the Ring of Minos. These can both be seen in the temporary exhibition.
This is probably the most famous of all Crete’s historical sites – an ancient Minoan palace, it is the largest and best preserved of these kinds of ruins – and there’s loads to see.
There’s the Palace of Knossos itself, which dates back to between the 17th and 13th centuries BC and comprises four wings all built around a courtyard, alongside several other buildings, like the Royal Villa and the Little Palace, which had a hall and reception rooms.
A really interesting one is the Temple Tomb, which is believed to be the final resting place of one – if not more – of the kings of Knossos.
Since the site’s situated in Heraklion, it makes sense to visit it on the same day that you explore the archaeological museum (if you decide to go to both, that is).
It’s worth bringing a guide book to Knossos, since there aren’t always many signs to help you work out what everything is.
Just outside the village of Psyhro is the Diktaean Cave (you might hear locals refer to this as the Psyhro Cave).
Legend has it that this was the birthplace of Zeus, and that this is where he was hidden to shield him from his father, who had a tendency to eat his offspring.
Interestingly, when it was excavated archaeologists discovered this was once a place of cult worship, which adds to its air of intrigue.
Plus, the central hall is filled with stalagmites and stalactites, which is a seriously impressive sight.
Koule Venetian Fortress
Back in Heraklion, there’s yet another great slice of history to see, this time in the form of the Koule Venetian Fortress, which dates back to the 16th century.
Situated right at the end of the Old Harbour jetty, it’s a pretty imposing building.
While you can just admire it from the outside, it’s worth heading inside too, since its rooms have been well restored.
There are 26 of them altogether, and if you fancy getting some great views of the area and out to sea you can climb to the top.
Hania Old Town
Taking a stroll through some of the historical towns is another good way of getting a feel for the area’s past.
Hania Old Town is particularly suited to this type of thing, thanks to its brilliant combination of Venetian and Ottoman architecture. Look out particularly for the old city walls and the Venetian lighthouse.
(photo credit: 1)