Crete – Trip to Knossos and Heraklion

Heraklion is a very different holiday to Chania. It is a big city. Is Knossos the lost city of Atlantis?

The ruins of the Palace of Knossos are easy to get to by local bus, as is the Mdina in Malta. Jean shows you how in the film she made. Heraklion is mainly a choice between beach, city and ruins and you can do all three in a day.

You will be offered trips to Santorini, and hear a lot about the connection between the two island and the lost city of Atlantis. Plato wrote about an advanced civilisation called Atlantis, which was destroyed when the Santorini volcano erupted. Plato’s thoughts have been followed by many other writers, historians and archeologists, who also suggest that Minoan Crete was, in fact, Plato’s Atlantis, which was wiped out when Santorini blew up. Many do not suggest in is Knossos, though there are grounds for a connection, but the lost trading ports which could be under the sea or silted over. It is a similar story to Troy in that respect. Troy was lost, and used to be a port by the sea but is now inland.

Heraklion is a big city; the shops are great. The beggars are persistent,. We don’t often say this, but watch for pick-pockets.

You could choose to go to the beaches, by bus or a long coastal walk.

The third popular option is just graze the shops and cafes of a town which has a busy night life. It is a modern city.


Heraklion is a container port, so there will be a bus to get you out of the port and leave you at the port gates. Some ships will shuttle you up to the town centre. If not you can walk up hill following the yellow line or get a local bus. See Jean’s film for the results of both shuttles.

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The Palace of Knossos is a treat, we left it until the afternoon when it is less busy. It is a complex of ruins with more than 1500 interlocking rooms. Built in the Bronze age (2000 BC), the Palace of Knossos is considered Europe’s oldest city and is referred to as the centre of Minoan civilisation. The Palace of King Minos was the island’s capital under the Minoans. Walk around the endless maze of salons, staircases and courtyards gave rise to the legend of the Labyrinth which housed the evil Minotaur at its heart. Jean points out the steps, stairs and walkways for those who need to see this in advance. It is done in a similar way to Troy.  The people, as well as the palace, were destroyed by the eruption of the Santorini Volcano (1700 BC). A new palace was built with many splendid frescoes adorning the walls, hundreds of rooms and workshops distributed in four storeys with spacious courts for hosting ceremonies and feasts. But further earthquakes in the 14th century BC led to the final destruction. Excavation of the site was between 1900-1930 and many of the results are at the museum. This alone is a licensed guided tour that takes an hour so you can see the time vanishing. An organised tour can explain things easily, but there are digital tours and signs on all the ruins.

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