Crete Round Trip

A Crete round trip is one of the most popular activities you can do in Crete. In the utmost south of Europe lies the island of Crete, the largest of the islands of Greece. Crete is 255 km long and up to 55 km wide and is the fifth largest island in Europe.

The Island’s capital is Iraklion in the north, where half of the total of 600,000 people live. From Iraklion, it’s only a short distance to Gortys, the main Greco-Roman excavation site of Crete.

Crete Round Trip - Heraklion

Gortys was an ancient city in south-central Crete. It has the oldest so far discovered legislative Codex of Europe. The Titus Basilica is a ruin of an early Christian basilica from the 6th Century. Only the middle and side apses remain. The cleanly executed rectangular stones reveal re-used parts of the architecture, typical of the tradition of ancient sculpture work. In the northern side apse is an altar; viewing from the nave, only the foundations and the pillar bases remain. The domed basilica has three naves.

Behind the church you’ll find the Roman Odeon, which in ancient times was a building used for performances and competitions in vocal and instrumental music, and for reciting speeches. It was of circular shape and differed from a theatre because of its covered roof. Well preserved are the floors and the rows of seats.

Inserted in a semi-circular back wall of the auditorium, is the Odeon’s biggest attraction; namely the city codex dating from the 5th century BC. It’s considered the oldest Codex of Europe.
Engraved on 42 stone blocks, in 12 rows of 52 lines each and written from right to left, are the legal ‘norms’ or standards for the co-existence of nobles and slaves. They lay down rules for marriage, divorce and inheritance laws and are drafted in old-Dorian dialect.

Gortys lies not far from the famous seaside resort of Matala nestling around a small sandy bay.

Another stop on our Crete round trip is Matala was the place where Zeus in the form of a bull went ashore with the abducted Phoenician princess Europe. He then turned into an eagle and brought Europe to Gortys. However, probably more interesting are the coastal rock caves. In the Neolithic period, numerous cave dwellings were carved out, which have remained the most famous attraction in Matala. In the 60s hippies from all over the world settled in these Neolithic caves, including many young Americans who had refused participation in the Vietnam war: They founded a large community here. Among the Vietnam objectors who lived here temporarily were such famous names as Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Unfortunately, one of the caves collapsed and a man was killed, resulting in the Hippies’ expulsion. Today, the caves are fenced, but they can be visited during the day. The beaches here are fantastic and a popular destination for package tours.

Those interested in culture are attracted by the nearby Phaistos, another stop at our Crete round trip.

Phaistos is a Minoan settlement. It covers an area of 8,400 m² and is the second largest Minoan palace in Crete after Knossos. The oldest historical finds in the area are from the early Minoan period – around 3000 BC. According to legend, the city of Phaistos was founded by King Minos and named after a son or grandson of Herakles. The first ruler of Phaistos was the brother of King Minos.
As the Minoan culture flourished, the first palace was built, which at that time held the same importance as Knossos. It was repeatedly destroyed; the last time was during the big earthquake around the year 1700 BC. It was not until 1600 BC, that a rebuilding of the palace began, but it was never completed. Since then, the Palace of Phaistos was destroyed by a disastrous fire in the year 1450 BC. The demise of many other palaces on Crete has led to the probable assumption that these were caused by acts of war. However, other historians favour an environmental disaster, like an earthquake or another volcanic eruption which could have led to the destruction of Minoan palaces and culture.

From about 1000 BC, Crete was populated by the Greek tribe of the Dorians. Initial excavations began in 1900 by the Italians. To enable a full excavation of the Minoan soil-layers, buildings from later periods were damaged. The excavations are still not completed even today, but the palace itself has now been opened for public view.

From a very different period, is the city of Ierapetra.

Worth visiting is a partly decayed Turkish Mosque with a Minaret and a restored Fountain House.

The castle at the harbor dates from the 14th century.

In the east of the island, another Minoan palace attracts visitors – Kato Zakros a further stop over on our Crete round trip.

Kato is the fourth of the great Minoan palaces of Crete. The discovery of this palace was by pure coincidence. A farmer from the 4 km distant mountain village of Zakros, who like many another, had his fields in the small fertile plain near the beach, was plowing his fields. He repeatedly came across many large and precisely sculptured fragments of cubic stones and vases. When the excavations began in 1961, it was a sensation. A fourth Minoan palace and, in contrast to the past, a largely undestroyed and un-plundered palace was discovered. In the surrounding houses, which are not directly part of the palace, they found numerous pottery vessels, and crystal vases of outstanding beauty. Today, turtles bathe in the town’s Well.

In its time, this must have been one of the most beautiful of palaces since its situation overlooks the Bay of Zakros with the crystal blue sea beyond.

Like a picture postcard is the beach of Vai.

Even on the Greek mainland, there are postcards for sale of this beach with its famous palm grove. Palm Trees under blue skies; the warm sun and the sea. It’s a Greek-style Caribbean paradise. Long before the tourists came, the pirates had discovered this dream beach: The surrounding islands offered them ample opportunities to hideout. When the hippies were expelled from Matala, they de-camped here under the palm trees of Vai, until eventually the Greek authorities put an end to this and declared the beach a protection zone.

Of course Legends circulate about the creation of this Oasis. It’s said that Phoenician Traders ate the dates and the seeds were scattered carelessly, from which the palm trees grew: A more realistic view, from botanists, say that palms in this geographical location, don’t produce edible fruit; the Palms seed naturally.

There were obviously many more palms growing on Crete in Minoan times, because they’re depicted on many ancient ceramic bowls and vases. The typical trunk of the Palm, slimmer at the foot than at the top, could even have been the model for the Minoan pillar or column.

A visit to Vai is one of the most impressive experiences on Crete, and although the city is overspilled by tourists, the beach itself remains an oasis surrounded by the deep blue sea. The only other Palm Beach on Crete is located in Prevelli.

Near to Vai on our Crete round trip is the monastery of Toplou one of the most important monasteries on this Mediterranean island.

Approaching over the high plain from Vai or Sitia, the monastery seems to be lonely and sort of isolated. The Toplou Monastery owes its name to the Turks. In the 17th Century this fortified monastery owned a cannon, called, in the Turkish language, “Top”. During the Second World War, when Crete was occupied by the Germans, the British operated a secret radio station from here. At that time just two monks and the abbot lived here, but in the past Toplou was inhabited by more than 20 monks and is still one of the most important monasteries in Crete. The Icon school brought significant artists to the Monastery and the Icon museum, which now attracts many interested in the art, is one of the best in Greece.

The Monastery is by far the largest landowner in the region. As an example, the Palm Beach of Vai, (the tourists stronghold) is the property of the monks, who support the monastery’s commitment to organic farming. The very cosmopolitan Abbot, who brilliantly combines his religious commitment with economic vigour, has striven for years for the success of an Agricultural-Cooperative in Sitia. Its olive oil production, together with the Monastery’s input, has received the highest prizes.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the monastery could even afford the services of one of the few fresco painters who is still active in Greece. By the end of 1997, after years of work, this creative, wheelchair bound local artist, Manolis Betinakis, had completed his work for the Refectory. It is now displayed in bright colors with craftsmanship of the highest order. The room can be viewed, but only after prior consultation with the Monastery’s Abbot.

Greece and especially Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Europeans, not least because of the diversity of its culture, but especially because of the many beautiful beaches and bays and the ocean, with bathing temperatures from June to November of 25 degrees.

The gem of Greek church architecture is to be found in Kritsa, the church of Panagia i Kera a stop over on the Crete round trip.

Panagia i Kerá is the name given to many of the Virgin Mary Greek consecrated Orthodox Churches and Chapels in Greece. This church dates from the 14th Century and houses well-preserved and restored wall paintings. It’s a three-naved, domed church. This central nave is the oldest part of the church. The outer supporting walls on both sides continue the building down to the ground. The interior is painted with numerous Byzantine frescoes.

94% of the Greeks belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. This unity in faith has its roots in the 400-year domination of the Muslim Turks. The church was the guardian not only of the faith, but also of the idea of national Greek unity. The Greek language, tradition and music were always safe-guarded by the monasteries and the churches: They were also centres for Greek resistance against foreign occupation forces.

Greek ideology is also prevalent in their daily rhythm of devotion; if a Greek passes a house of God, whether on foot, by donkey or by car, he makes the sign of the cross.

Only a few kilometres away is the small village of Lato on the Crete round trip, which is the best, preserved of the Doric mountain towns.

The well-preserved village stretches over a saddle-backed mountain, and was topped by an Acropolis which was enclosed by walls. Doubtless Lato was founded in the first half of the first pre-Christian century. Its name derives from Leto, the mother of the god Apollo and Artemis. Today the visible ruins date from the 5th century . The excavations were begun in 1900, then discontinued for many years, but have now been resumed.

A long climb up many steps, the way leads to the market square in the center.

This ‘stairway’ formed the road into the town and is still very well preserved. It was lined by houses and workshops, and was secured by a gate so that no one could enter the town unnoticed.

The market place is in the northern part of this broad stairway.

In the centre of the square a square-sided cistern stands, which was originally covered. It served as the city’s water supply.

Just behind this, you can see the foundations of a temple, with columns and an interesting collection of numerous statues, which were found here.

On the southern side is a rectangular gallery, the steps of which are hewn from the natural rock.

Above the square, supported by walls, there is a terrace on which the city’s main Temple of Apollo once stood.

In the north of the square is the Town Hall with its main room and a circle of three stone banks. Here the councilors met and received visitors.

The position of this town built on a hill, with beautiful views, is typical of the Dorian concern for safety. Firstly they could defend it well, and secondly their look-out system meant they were early apprised of any attack.

The region’s main town is Agios Nikolaos.

Agios Nikolaos lies on the western shore of the Gulf of Mirabello. In the middle of the village is Voulismeni Lake connected to the sea and surrounded by numerous bars and taverns. The lake is the main tourist attraction. Because of the unusual position of the lake, there are many legends: No monsters are said to appear, but it’s said that the lake is bottomless and is fed by an underground current or by a ‘mythical’ opening in the ground which connects to the sea. Official agencies talk about a depth of 64 meters.

On the lake, there are numerous boats for hire which can be used for round trips.

A path leads almost completely around the lake, where restaurants and coffee houses invite a stay in order to enjoy the atmosphere.

It was only around 1870, that the Turks could connect the lake to the port. At the Lakeside and on the canal bridge it seems the entire population strolls along happily in the late afternoon and evening and especially on a Saturday.

From the bridge the harbour basin is well overlooked. This formed the ancient port of the ‘Doric’ Lato. Through the centuries the port has been well used but has now lost its importance. This is because in the north of the city, in the Bay of Elounda, a new, larger and better storm-protected port has been created.

The name of the city is taken from the Church of Agios Nikolaos, which originates from the 10th Century. It’s one of the oldest churches on Crete still intact.

Agios Nikolaos is ideally situated as a starting point for a tour through the mountains and the wonderful Lasithi-high plain.

One of the characteristic sights of this area was its windmills with their white sails. In high summer they gave the appearance of a meadow full of Maragerita Daisies. These windmills, because of falling groundwater levels, had to be replaced by diesel-engine driven water pumps.

However, as a tourist attraction, these white-sailed windmills are still kept in place, although, for the most part, are no longer in use. But, some are still in service and are used for irrigating the agricultural, fertile plain; a service which this system has performed for over 5,000 years.

The most famous sight on Crete is certainly the palace of Knossos on our Crete round trip.

Armies of tourists are shown through and around the excavation site day by day. One-way lanes pilot them through the palace in a controlled manner.

The latest palace of Knossos emerged as a huge ensemble of buildings of up to five storeys high, on an area of 21,000 sq.m, built on a sparse area of 2.2 hectares. 800 rooms are detectable, but it’s thought that the palace contained up to 1300 rooms in total. The palace was at no time surrounded by a wall, and is, like all Minoan palaces, built around a rectangular square of 53 × 28 m. From four directions wind the relatively narrow but richly decorated corridors opening out into beautifully painted halls and elaborately designed staircases and columned galleries.

Impressive, and much photographed, is the columned hall with the famous bull fresco at the northern entrance to the palace.

The rooms and corridors seem confusing; they are put together in such a labyrinthine-like arrangement that they feel less of a “ruling-class” architecture but more of a mythic-cult construction. It also seems unlikely that the king’s craftsmen and servants would live so close to the king himself: For instance, the tax revenue products of man-high vessels full of wine, olive oil, grains of wheat or large jars of honey with a capacity of about 78,000 litres would not have been so close to the King’s living quarters, since all of this would have, undoubtedly, created noise, restlessness, unpleasant smells and insects. From the size of Knossos it would surely have been possible to segregate the working areas from the King’s apartments.”

Like all palaces in Crete, Knossos was also destroyed between 1750 and 1700 BC by a severe earthquake.

Only 5 minutes away from Knossos is the capital of Crete, Iraklion, another Crete round trip stop over.

A Venetian fortress guards the entrance to the old port; this now remains the reserve of smaller yachts and fishing boats, which still continue their commercial fishing enterprises. Further outside the old port, and on the horizon is the new port, a ferry port, where the ships to and from Crete continue to operate.

If you walk along the pier, it’s fascinating to see the colourful fishing boats and, in the morning hours, watch the fishermen sorting their catch or repairing their nets. It’s a place to linger awhile and enjoy the day.

The fort was built by the Venetians. Its last design was created between 1523 and 1540 and replaced the ancient castle which was destroyed by an earthquake. It was built from large stone blocks and consisted of two floors. The first floor of the house was the Captain’s accommodation; the second floor served as a defense position and armoury.

During the Turkish occupation, the dark, damp rooms were used as torture chambers, where Greek revolutionaries, under the agony of torture, often died.

On the outer side of the main building one can still see the reliefs of The Lion of St.Mark, the symbol of Venice.

Also in the harbour are the Venetian Arsenals, former warehouses. These give testimony to an era when this was a major sea and trading power.

Walking from the port into the city, one can see the Titus Church. You can clearly see that during the Turkish occupation it had been used as a mosque. It’s named after Titus, the first bishop and patron saint of Crete.

Next is the City Hall a huge building, which was used in former times as an armoury.

A few steps away is a Venetian Loggia; a typical structure of any major Venetian city. This is a beautiful Renaissance building, erected between 1626 and 1628. Noteworthy is the frieze with relief panels depicting various figurines. It has a rectangular floor plan with columns at the corners. The Loggia was the official meeting place for rulers and nobles, where current issues were discussed.

The most peculiar building of the city is a Temple, which was built in 1239. It once served as the tomb of the Dukes, then was a mosque and later a triple Basilica. Today the building is used as an art gallery.

Directly opposite is the Morosini Fountain, named after the architect of the Venetian Loggia. The water bubbles from four lion heads. On the top of the fountain was an oversized statue of Poseidon, but this was destroyed by an earthquake. It was built in 1628 with, for this period, a complex system of water pipes, which brought water from outside sources to the city’s fountain. The cistern with eight basins stands on a pedestal and is richly decorated with both mythological and marine figures, of Tritons and dolphins. It’s known as the Lion Fountain and is a popular meeting place for the city’s inhabitants.

In the hilly countryside west of Iraklion is the biggest monastery of Crete; the Arkadi Monastery.

The Arkádi monastery is the most important national monument in Crete. It played a prominent role in the Cretan fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

According to tradition, the monastery was built by the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius in the 5th Century. However, scientists feel that the foundations were laid by a monk with the name Arcadius. According to an inscription, the name of the monastery dates back to the 14th Century.

During the occupation of Crete by the Ottoman Empire in 1669, the monastery was plundered. The monks, however, after their subjugation gained permission to return to Arkádi and the right to “ring the bell”. The monastery and the destroyed Enclosure were rebuilt. By the year 1760 200,000 Muslims and 60,000 Christians lived on Crete.

The two-naves Basilica , which has Renaissance elements, was built in 1587, at the time of the Venetian domination of Crete. It is a reconstruction of a former church. The monastery‘s spiritual and cultural heyday lasted until the 17th century.

Around 1850 resistance against the occupation of the Ottoman rulers began. In 1866 a Revolutionary Committee was formed in Arkádi. Their elected chairman was the abbot of Arkádi, Gabriel Marinakis. In September of that year, the military commanders established a General to advise them. He criticized the monastery as being indefensible and, with his men, left the monastery. However, he appointed a military leader as a lieutenant to remain and take charge of the ‘fight’.

On the night of 7/8th November 1866 an Ottoman army of 15,000 men attacked the Monastery, in which just 1,300 people were there to defend it. After two days of desperate resistance the besieged held council and decided that whatever happened, they would not fall ‘live’ into the hands of the Ottomen Turks. When, on the 9th November the fight had shifted into the courtyard, the majority of the remaining survivors moved into the Powder Magazine and desperately blew themselves up. The violent explosion killed all those inside plus the Turkish soldiers who had ventured that far; all were killed except one young girl! The Abbot, probably, died in the final phase of the struggle. It is said that at the siege of the Arkádi Monastery the invading army lost 1500 men.

On a more tranquil note – Surrounding this Monastery is a very attractive agricultural area. Livestock farming dominates, particularly that of goat herds.

The small ‘dreamy’ town of Rethimno is situated around the Ormos bay. On our Crete round trip it is a must.

It nestles around this picturesque harbour basin, in which ‘historic’ sailing ships are at anchor, and fishing boats gently rock in the waves.

Worth seeing is the Arimondi Well. This beautiful Venetian fountain dates back to 1629 when it was endorsed by the former rector of the city, Rimondi. From three lion heads cool water bubbles into the three water basins that have been fitted between Corinthian columns: A time to spend a cooling and refreshing interlude after strolling through the old town.

Also impressive is the Venetian fortress; the landmark of Rethimnon. The construction of this huge building was begun by the Venetians in 1573 to protect the city from pirates and from the Turks. In 1590, the fortress was finally fully completed, but the protection didn’t last long. Already by 1646, the Turks occupied the castle despite the six bastions and several armories. Its weakness was also due to the rocky subsurface. There were too many gaps remaining in the defense walls.

Today the Church of Agia Nikolaos is still impressive: The church was rebuilt by the Turks with a dome and converted into a mosque.

Also interesting is the small Greek Orthodox Church situated in the immediate vicinity of the mosque. Perhaps as a sign that the two religions are coexisting and can coexist.

From the original Episcopal Church, and the later Mosque, just the base of the minaret has remained.

To a great extent, the ‘Sultan Ibrahim’ Mosque contributes to the Oriental flair of the fortress.

From the bastions of the fortress, one has a wonderful view of Rethimnon and its still existing mosques: The Kara Moussa Pasha and Nerantzes Mosque.

South of Rethimnon is one of the largest tomb cemetaries in Europe, the Armenian cemetery our next Crete round trip stop over.

Here, in the vicinity of the village of Armeni, are more than 200 graves, only one of which has been excavated since 1969. These are, for the most part family tombs from the period between 1400 and 1200 BC, all with an entrance carved in the soft rock and all oriented to the East. Many of the graves were found untouched and there was discovered a large number of burial objects such as jewelery, weapons, vessels, or clay figurines. The complex of tombs suggests that the cemetery was designed according to strict rules – and that in the vicinity, was perhaps an even greater Late Minoan City which still awaits discovery.

The appearance of the mostly East oriented graves (family graves) is characterized by a corridor leading to a corresponding burial chamber. The recovered skeletons, in total about 500, were buried in their Sarcophagie with Urns, in the walls of the corridor or on the floor of the chamber. The average age of the skeletons buried in this cemetery has been estimated at about 30 years for men and 23 years for women.

It’s quiet and peaceful is this place, in which for more than 3000 years people have lain undisturbed at the end of their lives. Today, oak trees donate a little shade over these graves, as protection for the dead against our unstoppable and insatiable ‘quest’ for knowledge and, we hope, understanding.

Through the wonderful Kourtaliotiki gorge, Prevelli can be reached on the south coast.

The Gorge is hardly known, but is nonetheless impressive.

The Palm Bay of Prevelli is the second Palm Beach on the Crete round trip.
It got its name from the Monastery located above, and Preveli is like an oasis in the otherwise barren rocky landscape. Here the river converges and finds its way through the Gorge. The banks are covered with lush vegetation.

Two small kiosks care for the beach visitors and now there are deck chairs and sun umbrellas for rent. There is also a boat rental outlet which enables a rowing-boat trip.

This beach is still considered to be one of the most beautiful. In high summer there are some bathers, but in the off-season, one has the beach, for most of the time, to oneself.

Not far from Prevelli lies the remarkable fortress Frangokastello on our Crete round trip

The ruins of this fortress which was originally built in the 14th Century by the Venetians and in the 19th Century almost completely destroyed by the Turks, was rebuilt. It’s situated directly on the southern coast of Crete. Its appearance with the fully preserved exterior walls and corner towers has become a popular ‘postcard motif’ and to outsiders it’s almost as well known as other popular tourist destinations in Crete.
Originally, the fort was named after the holy Nikitas, as is the Church of Agios Nikitas, 350 meters east of the fortress, which is also dedicated to this saint. Soon the locals named it “Frankencastell”. (Castle of the Franks?) This derives from the fact that, during the middle ages, all Western European people, including the Venetians, were called, by the people from the Mediteraeanean areas, “Frangi”.

Frangokastello acted, for the Venetians, as a major military base used against enemies approaching by sea. It was also a fortress against the Sfakiotes. Their spirit of resistance could never be broken by the Venetians.

Eventually the Turks used this military fortress for their own purposes. During the riots of the Cretans against the Turkish occupation, the inhabitants of Sfakia played a vital and crucial role. It was also during this time that Frangokastello was the scene of a fierce battle.

Another important city of Crete is Chania, the most important halt on our Crete round trip, which until 1972 was the capital of Crete. It has now around 150,000 inhabitants and is today the second largest city on the island. More than any other Cretan town, Chania has many well maintained and interesting buildings of the Venetian and Turkish periods. It is now a tourist base for the western exploration of Crete.

One of these well-preserved buildings is the Venice Arsenal. In total 6 arsenals are still in remarkably good condition. They previously served as a warehouse, but now two of them are exhibition spaces. The others are used by small companies as repair workshops or as storage rooms. Nonetheless, with its architecture and walls and passages, they’re worth a visit.

Just a few minutes walk from the Arsenal, and in the direction of the city centre is one of the most interesting churches of all – the Agios Nikolaos Church.

The history of the Church of Agios Nikolaos can be read on a plaque at the entrance. Originally it belonged to the Agios Nikolaos Monastery dating from the thirteenth century.
The church, a long elegant building with great pointed arches inside, was one of the main Venetian churches in Chania. The Turkish ruler Sultan Ibrahim turned the church into a mosque and gave it his name.

Despite the drastic renovation work, the exterior walls and widespread domed section on the north side of the church has survived.

A special and interesting point to note is that the church on the north side of the façade has a bell-tower, but on the south side it has a minaret.

A few streets further on, there is another mosque, which is also very well preserved: On its minaret top, the Turkish half-moon still ‘shines’.

If you take the larger tour of the town you reach the market hall.
It is one of the main tourist attractions of Chania. Emulating the example of the halls in Marseille, the cruciform building was completed in 1913 after two years of construction. Although the interest here in the past few years has become more and more tourist-oriented, it is still very well worth a visit. Especially in the west-to-east aisle of the hall, where there are stalls selling fresh fish and meat, as well as various cheeses, offering a wide selection from around the world.Particularly attractive are the spice stalls with various packs filled with subtle spices.

Sometimes it’s not fully realised just how many different types of olive oil are available today or how great the number of different providers, as well as the manifold and colourful containers.

Olive oil is the main component of Greek cuisine, and almost all meals are prepared with this oil. Olives are also one of the most important commodities of Greek agriculture; large areas on Crete are planted with olive trees.

When you leave the market hall you enter Skridhof street, also called Leather street. One leather shop after another is here, from handbags to sandals, from jackets to suitcases. A stroll along this street is well worthwhile, and a special bargain can always be negotiated.

The entire area around the Venetian harbour is a pedestrian zone and is turned into a single strolling avenue. From here tavern to tavern competes around the docks up to its western end and to the lighthouse at the harbour entrance. More and more, the tables are pushing nearer to the water front so that, in the high season, there is barely space for the strolling tourists on the harbour promenade, which, at night, also offers an impressive backdrop.

At the foot of the hill on the eastern edge of the Venetian harbour basin, is the former “Hassan-Pasha Mosque”: Also called “Janissaries Mosque.” It was built after the Turkish conquest in the 17th century. The Janissaries Mosque, with its domes and arches is an unusual edifice. The Turks built it in 1645. The building was very severely damaged by bomb attacks in the Second World War. For many years the office of the Hellenic Center for Tourism has been housed here.

From here you can book boat trips, whether for excursions to neighbouring islands or for vessels accompanied by divers who will accompany you on underwater explorations.

If that sounds too risky & not ‘your thing’, there is another attraction on offer: In the port is a yellow submarine, which takes you safely down to view this fascinating underwater world. Try it!

A day trip away is the Akrotiri peninsula, with its monasteries. Of these, the most beautiful is certainly the Agia Triada Monastery on the Crete round trip.

The Agia Triada, the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, was founded in the 17th century by two brothers of the Venetian Zangaroli-Family. These brothers were monks of the Orthodox belief who had transgressed. The Agia Triada Monastery stands on the foundations of an old church.

At the entrance to the building there is a narthex at right angles to the main (ship)? nave. The main church of Agia Triada and the two side chapels are consecrated to the holy John Prodromos. The exterior of the church, with its rich ornamentation, offers a good example of the Western influence on the Byzantine church. Thus, the facade has double columns in Ionic and Corinthian style and bears an inscription. In 1864, a bell tower was added. Also at the entrance, there are two inscriptions; one in Latin and one in Greek: They refer to the builder’s origin.

The current monastery church is a building with a Venetian cruciform ground plan and three domes. The larger one rests at the intersection of the naves. The two smaller ones are at the rear. The two side chapels of the Church also have domed ceilings, as does the independent Sotiras-chapel

In the nineteenth century, the monastery acted as an important theological school. In this much visited monastery live 5 monks, but the priest seminary has been discontinued.

Not far from Agia Triada is the Monastery of Gouverneto, another Crete round trip stop. This was a “Retreat” Monastery for the monks who lived in the monastery Katholiko. This is situated 2 km from the sea, built into the rock and exposed to attack from pirates.

Nature enthusiasts will find great pleasure in the Imbros Gorge.

The better known Samaria Gorge is, unfortunately, hopelessly overcrowded: Up to 4,000 people a day walk through this canyon. But the neighbouring Imbros Gorge, on the other hand, is an almost untouched natural paradise, away from the masses.

It takes just two and a half hours to walk through. The narrowest spot in the Gorge is less than 2 meters wide. This, undoubtedly, holds the most beautiful landscape on Crete and the hiker will find him or herself surrounded by the silence of nature.

Crete is one of the most interesting islands of Greece: Beautiful beaches, outstanding culture and magnificent natural mountain scenery. All of this draws visitors into its spell, making a Crete round trip a memorable experience.