For travellers looking for a touch of historical tourism, there are few countries that provide this better than Greece. This was one of the first countries to implement democracy and construct buildings with a focus on architecture and fragments of this great era remain scattered throughout the land. The island of Crete provides some fantastic examples of Greece relics and ruins, making it a must on every travelling historian’s list.
Knossos was formerly the Minoan capital of Crete and contains buildings dating back to 1900BC. This once fair city has fallen to ruin over the centuries since it was built but still holds some remarkably well preserved landmarks. The ruins of a once immense and beautiful palace complex are the chief attraction to many tourists, as this is said to be where King Minos kept the mythical Minotaur.
The city of Phaistos is also worth a visit – formerly second fiddle to Knossos in their glory days, it still comes second to Knossos in terms of tourist visits. This city is also home to an ancient palace, but is markedly different from Knossos in that this palace was not the first to grace the city’s streets. Phaistos’ palace was repeatedly felled by earthquakes in the past and rather than rebuild it the locals simply built a new palace on top of the ruins of the old one. The original palace dated back to 2000BC making this an important archaeological dig site.
These are not the only grand Minoan ruin to be found on Crete though. A trip to the town of Kamilari provides a number of archaeological dig sites and also the famous circular Minoan Tomb, which can be found on the side of a low hill near the sea. This tomb was built in 1900 BC and is remarkably well preserved.
Stepping away from the Minoans, Koules Venetian Fortress, or Rocca al Mare, is definitely worth a look in. Built during the 16th century, this fortress still dominates the Old Harbour. Built during the island’s Venetian rule, the fortress was used to defend the island from the invasion attempts of the Turks, before becoming a prison for rebelling Cretans in its later life. The fortress contains a number of carefully restored rooms and chambers, a museum and an art gallery.
Ancient Lato is one of the few ruined cities on the island that has nothing to do with the Minoans. Dating back to the 7th century BC, the city was built by the Dorians. This city was massive in its heyday, built almost into the side of an island and enjoying beautiful mountain views across the Gulf of Mirabello. The Temple of Apollo is not to be missed
There are many stunning hotels on Crete and flights are fairly inexpensive, so check it out!