Bare Bones | Essential Minoan Crete
As a seafaring and trading culture, the Minoans made a significant input into the evolution of our Western European civilisation. They developed unique art and architecture, building large palace structures incorporating administrative, trading and religious facilities. The sophistication of the Minoan culture is passed down to us not only through their writing system, but also by their artistic expressions, for instance the most vibrant fresco scenes. So great a culture was it that in its day, legends were told, like the one of Theseus defeating the terrifying Minotaur. Join us on a tour through the most fascinating and famous sites of Minoan Crete, from the world famous Palace of Knossos, Vathypetro’s country house with a shrine and well preserved wine press and wander the halls of the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion housing the most important finds from the island.
- Visit the newly refurbished Heraklion Archaeological Museum with its unique Minoan collection
- Explore the Palace of Knossos, Greece’s largest Bronze Age complex
- Special site tour of Sissi to view the ongoing excavations
- Ancient Greek
- Great Cities
- Just One Hotel
After arriving in Crete, we settle into our centrally located hotel in Heraklion.
Today we start with an orientation walk of the area, stopping at Heraklion Archaeological Museum to set the scene for our exploration of Minoan Crete. Here, we will see the most important finds of the island, including the Phaistos disc and the famous Minoan frescoes from palace sites. In the afternoon we head out to Knossos to explore the famous palace complex, a multi-storeyed residential building shrouded in myths and legends.
We begin our day with a drive out to the Palace of Phaistos on Kastri hill. This site has a long history with first evidence of occupation going back as far as 4000 BC. It became the Minoans’ second largest city and we can explore the remains of the palace, first excavated in 1900. Our second visit of the morning will be to Vathypetro, a Minoan country house, contrasting with the palatial complexes seen before. This site is known for its elaborate shrine and an incredibly well-preserved wine press, one of the oldest in the world. We return to Heraklion in time for an independent lunch and free afternoon - your chance to sample the Cretan cuisine and explore the capital at leisure.
The morning starts with a trip out to Malia, the third- largest Minoan palace complex known on Crete. Admire the site’s vast courtyard, the Royal quarters and its well-preserved magazines. Later, head to the Late Minoan town of Gournia to wander the cobbled streets among the ruins of some 50 houses and its palace. The early afternoon is spent at leisure in Agios Nikolaos, a lovely town on the shores of Mirabello Bay. We return to Heraklion with plenty of time to unwind and enjoy our final free evening on Crete.
Before our tour ends there is still time for one last Minoan encounter: a visit to the ongoing excavations at Sissi. Here, we have the privilege to receive a tour of the site, led by a team member of the project, and hear about the latest discoveries.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - Breakfast only
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
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