Today we’re going to experience the Essence of Crete. We’ll begin with a tour of Knossos, the ancient capital of King Minos and the world-renowned archaeological site. Next, we’ll head to Arolithos, a modern village built to resemble a traditional one. There, we’ll experience tasty food, lively entertainment and true Greek hospitality. Let’s get going.
The Palace of King Knossos was once the religious and administrative center of the Minoan world.
For centuries, however, Knossos was considered only a city of myth and legend. No one could find its exact location.
Dating from the Bronze Age, Knossos was rediscovered in 1878. Excavations would not begin here, however, until more than two decades later when English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans and his team began to unveil the mysteries of Crete’s largest archaeological site.
By 1903 most of the palace was excavated, though Evans worked here for more than three decades. His reconstruction is partly fabricated. For example, he had rooms repainted to the best of his imagination, including the Throne room, which was done by two Swiss artists. It is said that some of the frescoes may have been inventions of the artists rather than based on historical facts.
One of the main features of the palace was the labyrinth, which was built to confine the fabled Minotaur, a frightful creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.
Legend holds it that the Minotaur was born out of the unnatural union between the queen of Knossos and a god in the form of a bull. The creature could have been inspired by the Minoan sport of bull-jumping, where the male athlete vaults over the bull’s horns, giving the appearance of a bull and a man joined together.
It is said that the king fed his enemies to this mythological monster until the labyrinth’s secret was finally unraveled. It was the Athenian hero Theseus who finally killed the Minotaur. He decapitated the beast, and used a string that he had laid behind him to find his way out of the Labyrinth.
The Minoan Palace of Knossos makes for a fascinating tour that explores the myths and legends of ancient Crete.
Our next stop was Arolithos. Set among fruit orchards, fields of flowers and olive groves, Arolithos appears to be an ancient Greek village. It’s actually a modern one built in the style of a traditional village in Crete. Walk the cobblestone streets, take time to mingle with the locals and stop in to visit the art and folkloric museum to learn more about Crete.
We had a great day in Agios Nikolaos, where we experience the Essence of Crete with a visit to Knossos, home to the once mighty Minoan Palace and a visit to Arolithos, where we had Greek cuisine and experience Cretan hospitality.