Knossos is truly the palace of the Minoan civilization. According to tradition, it was the headquarters of the legendary king Minos. The Palace is also linked to thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, a monster that was part human and part bull, who resided inside the labyrinth and ate people. There is also the story of Daidalos and Icaros, who were father and son. According to this story, Icarus made a set of wings to fly out of the Labyrinth, but he got so close to the sun that his wings burned, and he fell in the sea. It is a site worth visiting, not just because of its important meaning for Greek mythology, but also because of its meaningful role in our history.
Elafonissos is located in the southwest part of Crete (Prefecture of Chania), and it is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches you could visit in Europe. A shallow reef, about 800 meters long, joins the beautiful islet of Elafonisi to the mainland of Crete. It is actually pretty easy to cross to the islet when the weather is calm.
Matala was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys, and a former fishing community, which has developed into a modern holiday centre. It is located 4 km southwest of the village of Pitsidia, and it is 75 km from Iraklion. It is built on the coastline of the Messara bay, at a small and picturesque inlet. The turquoise blue sea, and the red disk of the sun, setting in the evening horizon create a hue of colours that evoke novel emotions. There is also a cave known as “Brutospeliana”, and legend has it that the Roman general Brutus frequented it. Owing to its exceptional natural beauty, Matala became the meeting place of the “Flower Children” in 1968.
Spinalonga is a small island at the entrance of the Elounda bay. In antiquity, there was the fortress of the ancient city of “Olous” (Elounda). In 1579 the Venetians built a mighty fortress there, which remained under their rule even after the Ottoman occupation of Crete, in 1669. During the last years of the Ottoman occupation, it was a safe refuge for the Ottoman families. In 1903, by law of the Cretan government, it was appointed as the place of stay for the lepers of Crete. The 13th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities has carried out restoration works in some of the old buildings on the islet. Today Spinalonga is one of the main attractions of the area, and there are several daily trips from Agios Nikolaos by small boats.
The Samaria Gorge
The Samaria Gorge is located 43 km south of the city of Chania, and it’s the longest gorge in Europe, measuring 18 kilometers. At some points, the passage is only 3 meters wide and its steep sides rise to a height of 600 meters. A stream that flows between the highest peak of the White Mountains and the mountain of Volikas flows along the gorge.