Tour Duration: Vehicle and English speaking driver at your disposal for 8 hours.
Pick-up Locations : Heraklion – Hotels, Resorts, Airport , Port.
Note: This is a private driving tour which is not offered with a licensed tour guide service, in case you may need a private tour that include licensed tour guide, please select the corresponding private tour that includes licensed tour guide service.
According to Mythology, Crete was the place where Zeus grew up. He was especially worshipped on the island, and king Minos was considered his son.The island has many myths surrounding it here, the Minotaur was defeated by Theseus, Daedalus and Ikarus worked here,
The first great civilization of Greece started on Crete. It is called the Minoan, after its most famous king, Minos. There is a theory that Minos actually was several kings. The Minoan period started sometime around the 3rd Millennium BC and ended in the 15th century, probably because of natural disasters like earthquakes.
Until this day, we do not know if Knossos was the palace of the kings or the sacred place for the priesthood. What is certain, though, is that the Minoans ruled the seas. Findings from the Minoan civilizations has been found all over Greece, in Egypt, todays Turkey, Italy and there are even theories about the Bahamas. When the Minoan civilization ended, the people emigrated to other islands. Scopelos people, for example, take pride in having Minoan origins.
In 67BC Crete became a Roman province, and stayed so for over 400 years. It was then incorporated into the Byzantine empire. Later on Arabs, Venetians and Turks were to rule the island.
In 1913 the island was liberated and took part in the Balcan Wars, the two world wars, and during the second world war it was occupied by the Germans.
Famous people of Crete : Crete is the motherland of many famous Greeks, among them the famous painter Dominicos Theotocopoulos known as El Greco. Many writers like the medieval Vincenzos Kornaros author of Erotokritos, Nikos Kazandjakis the author of Zorba the Greek,the Last Temptation of Christ, Odyssey ,Captain Michalis and others ,Pandelis Prevelakis author of The Cretan ,In the Hands of the Living God and others. Music composers like Mikis Theodorakis (Zorbas Dance , soundtrack of the film Z , Canto General and others) Great politicians like Eleftherios Venizelos one of the Greatest political leaders of modern Greece.
Suggested places to visit
Knossos is the site of the most important and better known palace of Minoan civilization. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary king Minos. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. The site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times.
The Linear B tablets (Mycenaean script) of the 14th century B.C. mention the city as ko-no-so.
The palace of Knossos is the largest of the preserved Minoan palatial centres. Four wings are arranged around a central courtyard, containing the royal quarters, workshops, shrines, storerooms, repositories, the throne room and banquet halls. Dated to 2000-1350 B.C.
The Little Palace. It lies to the west of the main palace and has all the features of palatial architecture: scraped wall masonry, reception rooms, a pristyle hall, a double megaron with polythyra (pi er-and-door partitions) and a lustral basin-shrine. Dated to the 17th-15th centuries B.C.
The Royal Villa. It lies to the NE of the palace and its architectural form is distinguished by the polythyra, the pillar crypt and the double staircase, with two flights of stairs. It is strongly religious in character and might have been the residence of an aristocrat or a high priest. Dated to the 14th century B.C.
House of the Frescoes. It is located to the NW of the palace and is a small urban mansion with rich decoration on the walls. Dated to the 15th, 14th-12th centuries B.C.
Caravanserai. It lies to the south of the palace and was interpreted as a reception hall and hospice. Some of the rooms are equipped with baths and decorated with wall paintings.
The “Unexplored Mansion”. Private building, probably of private-industrial function, to the NW of the palace. It is rectangular, with a central, four-pillared hall, corridors, storerooms and remains of a staircase. Dated to the 14th-12th centuries B.C.
Temple Tomb. It is located almost 600 m. to the south of the palace and was connected with the “House of the High Priest” by means of a paved street. It seems that one of the last kings of Knossos (17th-14th centuries B.C.) was buried here. Typical features of its architecture are the hypostyle, two-pillar crypt, the entrance with the courtyard, the portico and a small anteroom.
House of the High Priest. It lies 300 m. to the south of Caravanserai and contains a stone altar with two columns, framed by the bases of double axes.
The South Mansion. Private civic house, located to the south of the palace. It is a three-storeyed building with a lustral basin and a hypostyle crypt, dating from the 17th-15th centuries B.C.
Villa of Dionysos. Private, peristyle house of the Roman period. It is decorated with splendid mosaics by Apollinarius, depicting Dionysos. The house contains special rooms employed for the Dionysiac cult. Dated to the 2nd century A.D.
The Museum was founded in 1883.
Initially, when it was still simply a collection of antiquities, it was housed in two rooms near Agios Minas.
This space, however soon proved to be too restricted to hold the precious objects, which daily grew in number especially after the proclamation of the independence of Crete in 1898. The collection therefore had to be moved to a large sector of the old Turkish barracks.
At the same time attempts began to be made to build a proper Museum and to find a suitable plot of land for the purpose. Eventually, preference was given to the area formerly occupied by the monastery of Agios Frangiskos. The building that was erected was demolished in 1937, however, since it was not proof against earthquakes, and its place was taken by the present Museum.
The rooms were opened to the public after the Second World War, with the material classified chronologically. The building has recently been extended.
The Museum houses ancient objects discovered at the most important archaeological sites in Crete: Knossos, Phaestos, Malia, Tylissos, Gortys, Agia Triada, Mohlos, Gournia , Zakros, in a great number of tombs, in the caves of Kamares, the Idaean cave, the Diktean Cave, the cave of Eileithyia and so on.
The most interesting and best preserved of the finds are exhibited in the 20 rooms of the Museum. Minoan art is nowhere better represented, and this makes the Museum unique and has made it known the whole world over.
Heraklion is a busy and prosperous modern town, the capital of Crete, with a thriving population over 150,000. It sits on the north coast in the centre of the island.
Travelers will find plenty to see and enjoy in Heraklion, Archaeological and historical monuments, good and delicious food, beautiful beaches and the friendly hospitality of the Cretans remains vibrant over the years
Little words of Heraklion history
Iraklion town shares the turbulent history of Kriti, with occupation dating back to Minoan times. It was inhabited by Saracens, pirates and Arabs in the early days. In AD961 a Byzantine era began, until 1204 when Crete was sold to the Venetians. The Turks took over the flourishing city after a lengthy siege in 1669 and dominated until liberation in 1898. Crete unified with Greece in 1913, Iraklio suffered bombings in the world wars and played her part in the Battle of Crete in 1941. Becoming the capital in 1971, Iraklion town is now one of the most expensive capitals in Greece, and was a proud Olympic city in 2004.
The beautiful harbour is notable for its fishing boats and fresh fish, surrounded by Venetian walls, fortress and Venetian Arsenal.
The Castello del Molo ( Koule ) was built in 16th century, with reliefs of the Venetian lions (Lions of St Mark) still visible, and is now used as an open air theatre in summer.”
The Venetian Loggia, from 1628, which is an impressive building now housing the Town Hall.
The Morosini Fountain, named after its Venetian designer, is more commonly known as the Liondaria, after the many lions in its design, and its little square forms one of the hubs of the town, a handy place for meeting up with friends,
Kornarou square , named after the writer of the exquisite Cretan poem Eritokritos. In this little square are the disfigured Bembo Fountain from 1588 and a Turkish fountain from 1776 now used as a coffee house. Around this square are excellent shops and side streets with good shopping, for the locals.
The Village Arolithos was intentionally built in the typical architecture of old Cretan Villages.
As you enter the village walking along its cobblestone streets you pass shops where artisans produce crafts such as ceramics, weavings, wood carving and even bread baking using the methods of a bygone era.
A short walk brings you to a small square where you?ll find an authentic Greek coffee shop, where you can enjoy a welcoming drink of Crete known as Raki . Continue on the main square of the village to find its beautiful old church which supported the cultural, political and entertainment center of its inhabitants.
Since 1900, continuous archaeological excavations from the Italian Archaeological School, have brought to light the magnificent Minoan palace of Phaistos with its great royal courts, the great staircases, the theatre, the storerooms and the famous disk of Faistos.
The first palace was built at 2.000 B.C. This palace was destroyed at 1.700 B.C. by an earthquake. It was built again, more luxurious and magnificent and it was destroyed again, probably by another earthquake, at 1.400 B.C.
The location of the palace was carefully chosen, so as not only to absolutely control the valley of Messara, but to also offer a panoramic view of the surrounding area with the scattered villages, just like today, at the foot of the mountains Psiloritis and Asterousia.
The palace dominated and controlled the Messara valley and it was the centre of the city. It was the administrational and economical centre of the area. Goods not only for consumption but mainly for trade were kept in its huge storerooms.
The palace was surrounded by luxurious mansions and crowded urban communities. Along with the surrounding settlements covered an area of 18.000 sq. meters. A paved road leads to the ruins of the Royal Minoan villa of Agia Triada, 3 km west of Phaistos.
Gortys is located at the Messara Valley, near the village of Agioi Deka, on the 46th km of the main road from Iraklion to Tibaki that traverses the island from north to the south.
Gortys is crossed by the river Litheos, today called Mitropolianos that dominates the valley of Messara.
One of the oldest and most important monuments of Christianity in Crete is the Basilica of Agios Titos, which was the seat of the first bishops of the Cretan Church.
In the centre of Gortys was the temple of Pythios Apollo, the most important pre-christianic temple of the city, built on the ruins of a Minoan settlement. The most important monuments of the ancient Gortys are the ruins of the acropolis and the odeum. The odeum of the ancient city was the place where parts of the great Law Code of Gortys was discovered. The Gortys Law was inscribed on stones. Four series of inscribed stones are preserved today, which constitute relics of great importance for the study of the epigraphy and Law of the time. The inscription is in a Dorian dialect and it was written at the end of the 6th century B.C.
Matala was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys and a former fishing community, which has developed into a modern holiday center. It is located 4 km southwest of the village of Pitsidia and 75 km from Heraklion. It is built on the coastline of the Messara bay inside a small and picturesque inlet. The turquoise blue sea, and the red disk of the sun which sets in the evening horizon create a hue of colours that evoke novel emotions.
The magnificent inlet of Matala features one of the best beaches in Crete. The artificial caves, carved into the north face of the coast, have been probably used as prehistoric dwellings and places of worship, while during the 1st-2nd century were used as tombs. These caves, in combination with the sandy beach, form a semicircle on both sides of which jut up towering rocks; they act as a magnet for many people.
During the 60s the caves were hosting a hippie commune. Today, the tomb-caves of Matala are protected by the Archaeological Service.
The Koule fortress on the Kastri hill is an attraction that should not be missed by the visitor. There is also a hewn-in-the-rock church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It is more like a catacomb and was used by the early-Christians during the years of persecutions.
South of Matala there is a huge rock formation known as the rock of Theosyni that offers a panoramic view of the Messara Bay. The rock raises from the sea while at sea level it caves in deep to form a natural marine cave, named Kouroupi. This cave provides shelter to wild pigeons and to the Mediterranean seal.
The beauty of the coast continues south of Kouroupi, where following a path along the rock, you reach the enchanting red sand beach, a place for those who are young and daring. The spectacular red sand beach is known as Ammoudia. This location is ideal for camping.
Vehicle, fuels, tolls (wherever exist), parking fee,
English-speaking driver, insurance covery of the passengers up to 500,000 euro in total, VAT and all taxes.
*Entrance fees in archaeological and historical sites, licensed tour guide, hotel accommodation wherever needed, beverages and meals.
Palace of Knossos – per Adult 6 euro
Palace of Knossos – per Child (under 17 with passport) Free
Palace of Phaistos – per Adult 4 euro
Palace of Phaistos – per Child (under 17 with passport) Free
Gortys- per Adult 4 euro
Gortys-per Child (under 17 with passport) Free
* NOTE: !!! Our Guides are LICENSED and Members of the Union official Guides in Greece.
** NOTE: !!! Our Drivers are Professionals and English speaking.
Please note that not allowed Taxi drivers, Minivan drivers and Bus drivers to do the job of the tour guides, this is prohibited by Greek law.
The tour guide profession is protected by the Greek legislation
Our Company from its establishment until now, works only with official, professional, licensed tour guides.
Please note that in case you may wish to book a private tour through our website, in no way means that you are obliged to follow the exact route of showing the proposed tour.
You have the ability to change the order of the sites, to remove or add attractions, provided it does not exceed the time duration and distances that you have already booked.
We are flexible to any changes that you may wish during your private tour, our aim is your complete satisfaction.
Our drivers and our licensed tour guides are at your disposal in order to provide you with the best service.
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