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Crete, My Favourite Archaeological Destination

My favourite archaeological destination has to be the Greek island of Crete. I first visited the island in while on a backpacking trip around Greece. Since then I have returned a number of times, although carrying a bit more luggage than a backpack and staying in some more comfortable places than a youth hostel. During each visit, however, I have been quite seduced by the archaeology, enough each time to make me want to return.

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It represents the first advanced civilization in Europe, leaving behind massive building complexes, tools, artwork, writing systems, and a massive network of trade. The name “Minoan” derives from the mythical King Minos and was coined by Evans, who identified the site at Knossos with the labyrinth and the Minotaur.

The Minoan civilization has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe , [2] and historian Will Durant called the Minoans “the first link in the European chain”. The Minoan civilization is particularly notable for its large and elaborate palaces up to four stories high, featuring elaborate plumbing systems and decorated with frescoes. The most notable Minoan palace is that of Knossos , followed by that of Phaistos.

The Minoan period saw extensive trade between Crete, Aegean, and Mediterranean settlements, particularly the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoans’ cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades , the Old Kingdom of Egypt , copper-bearing Cyprus , Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia. Some of the best Minoan art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini , which was destroyed by the Minoan eruption.

The Minoans primarily wrote in the undeciphered Linear A and also in undeciphered Cretan hieroglyphs , encoding a language hypothetically labelled Minoan.

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It bounds the southern border of the Aegean sea. Its capital and largest city is Heraklion , located on the north shore of the island. As of [update] , the region had a population of , The Dodecanese are located to the northeast of Crete, while the Cyclades are situated to the north, separated by the Sea of Crete. The Peloponnese is to the region’s northwest. Humans have inhabited the island since at least , years ago, during the Paleolithic age.

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It’s common for first-time visitors to take one look at Iraklion and marvel at how modern the city is. After all, this is the capital of Crete, the home of Europe’s earliest civilization, and birthplace of countless myths and legends. Newcomers tend to expect a small village with antiquated buildings rather than the busy cosmopolitan city that occupies the same ground where Hercules, King Minos, the minotaur and other characters from ancient mythology once roamed.

The magic of Iraklion, though, is the fact that its modern amenities commingle peacefully with its ancient treasures rather than overshadowing them. The result is a vibrant town that manages to look to the future while still embracing its past. The contemporary shops, hotels and apartment buildings might be the first things to catch a visitor’s eye, but scratch the surface of Iraklion’s new veneer and the town’s glorious history comes shining through.

Massive walls built in the ‘s circle the heart of the city like two powerful arms trying to restrain Iraklion from moving too far forward into the modern age. Lovely fountains, ornate architecture and other relics of the past lie scattered throughout the city as well, with many of these attractions dating back centuries ago to the time when Venice ruled the island of Crete. While the blend of past and present provides a fascinating backdrop, Iraklion’s true beauty comes from its simple reflections of everyday Greek life.

Its small, unexpected surprises are the things that make the city such a joy to explore — such as a tiny church with an immaculate flower garden or a hidden courtyard where an elderly man sits alone and softly strums his bouzouki, a Greek instrument similar to the mandolin. The busy public squares and festive taverns may draw more tourists, but to experience Iraklion at its best try strolling the shoreline at dusk or visit the old harbor beside the Venetian fort at sunrise and watch fishermen carefully inspecting their nets in the pink glow of dawn.

At times like these you might wonder if you’ve somehow stumbled backward into Iraklion’s rich past, and you may also find yourself with no desire to leave it.

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Aegean civilizations , the Stone and Bronze Age civilizations that arose and flourished in the area of the Aegean Sea in the periods, respectively, about — bc and about — bc. The area consists of Crete , the Cyclades and some other islands, and the Greek mainland, including the Peloponnese , central Greece , and Thessaly. The first high civilization on European soil, with stately palaces, fine craftsmanship, and writing, developed on the island of Crete.

Later, the peoples of the mainland adapted the Cretan civilization to form their own, much as the Romans adapted the civilization of later Greece. The Bronze Age civilization of Crete has been called Minoan , after the legendary King Minos of Knossos, which was the chief city of the island throughout early times. Early, middle, and late stages have been defined in each of these, with further subdivisions according to recognizable changes in the style of pottery and other products that are associated with each separate culture.

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Cretan Flora. It grows in moist sandy plains and rocky areas near sea level. Crete is home to the largest natural palm grove in Europe, namely Vai in East Crete. The species was firstly identified as different in by Greuter and was named after the father of botany, Theophrastus BC , who first indicated the existence of palm trees in Crete. The date palm of Theophrastus is often confused with the imported ornamental species of the Canary Islands Phoenix caraniensis , which does not produce offshoots and grows faster.

The Cretan palm reaches a height of up to 15m, usually produces many offshoots, can have more than one main trunks and looks like the common date palm Phoenix dactylifera. However, the fruit, which resembles dates, is not commercially exploited, although its occasionally eaten by the Cretans. During the last years, a huge concern about the future of the endangered Cretan palm has derived, as the other palm species listed on the island have been devastated by the red palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus.

This beetle was accidentally introduced in Crete, carried in the trunk of some imported palm trees coming from Africa, and has caused huge ecological damage. Till now, fortunately the palm of Theophrastus has not been severely affected, probably because the interior of the trunk is not as tender as the Canary palm trees. But when the beetles destroy all the rest vulnerable palm species, it is likely to start destroying the Cretan date palms.

Formed near an amazing beach next to the exit of Megalos River.

The Palace at Knossos (Crete)

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Looking for cruises to Crete? Find and plan your next cruise to Crete with cabin price comparison, variety of departure Please try a different departure date. The majority of its attractions are clustered in an area five or six blocks wide, and​.

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Cruises to Chania (Souda) Crete, Greece

My friend and I are wondering if Crete this time of year is good for singles or not, or if its more for families? Does it have a good nightlife? Also what’s the crowd like this time of year-lots of Europeans? We’re 2 young single guys looking for a good nightlife and day scene and we want to make sure if Crete fits our interests or not Of the many greek islands, Crete is quite large and you should be able to find an area thats party friendly.

Discussions of dispersals of early hominins from Africa assume that Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula were the primary passageways for migrations to​.

Rimmed by more than 1, kilometers of coastline, and with stunning beaches backed by mountains that rise more than 2, meters, Crete is unlike any other island in Greece. It is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean. The main attractions on Crete are the incredible golden sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, but the island is also home to important Minoan archaeological sites, dramatic gorges, lovely cities with Venetian harbors and fortresses, and small coastal towns where you can escape to a leisurely pace of life.

On the north coast are the centuries-old harbor towns and cities of Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Agios Nikoloas, the most popular tourist destinations on the island. The best places to visit on Crete for shopping, nightlife, museums, and cultural attractions are all found along the north coast. On the remote south coast, looking towards Africa across the Libyan Sea, are quaint seaside villages where you can escape from the main tourist scene.

This is the best place for travelers looking for a quiet escape but still wanting to enjoy a beach vacation. The scenic, mountainous interior is home to fertile soil and is where you’ll find much of the country’s agriculture, along with charming villages of whitewashed houses on narrow, twisting streets.

Big Plant Nursery – Phoenix theophrasti (Cretan Date Palm)