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Anyone who has ever visited Greece wants to visit it once again and this is obvious why tourists want to return to this country of ancient monuments, Orthodox shrines and incredibly charming people. It beckons with its architecture, natural riches, original culture and, of course, unsurpassed cuisine.
Probably, it makes no sense to repeat the already beaten phrase that there is everything in Greece, but it really is! And the brightest example is the capital of ancient Hellas – Athens. It is a city that carefully preserves its history and architectural monuments, many of which are not one thousand years old. In Athens, you should definitely visit the Acropolis with its partially restored ancient temples, the temple of Poseidon, located just on the coast of the Aegean Sea, the ancient quarter of Plaka, almost untouched by time, as well as numerous city museums and picturesque Athens Square, where you can immerse yourself in real life Athenians.
Just an incredible number of interesting attractions is focused on Crete. Millions of tourists visit this island to combine an entertaining excursion into the history of Ancient Greece with a holiday in one of the best Mediterranean resorts.
Here in the archaeological reserve of Knossos is the magnificent Knossos palace, built by the legendary Daedalus for King Minos. It has an unusual architecture and an incredibly complex system of underground labyrinths. And in Festa it is interesting to look at the palace of Minos’s brother, Radamanta, which is not as impressive in size as outlandish forms, for example, the rooms in it are in the form of a star with a huge courtyard in the center, and the inner chambers are connected by majestic staircases. If you are planning to have a trip around the most interesting places to visit in Greece you are welcome to choose the attractions from the list below:
- Place to visit number 1: Ancient city Lindos
- Place to visit number 2: The palace of King Minos
- Place to visit number 3: Promenade of Rhodes
- Place to visit number 4: Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
- Place to visit number 5: Diktaean Cave
- Place to visit number 6: Old town Rethimno
- Place to visit number 7: The island-fortress of Spinalonga
- Place to visit number 8: Heraklion port
- Place to visit number 9: Lassithi Plateau
- Place to visit number 10: Balos Bay
- Place to visit number 11: Acropolis of Athen
- Place to visit number 12: Palace of Great Masters
Lindos deserves attention as one of the centers of ancient civilization. And the very same village with its irreproachably restored buildings and the post-Byzantine church Panayia with well-preserved frescoes of the 18th century is surprisingly pleasant. Impressive mansions, belonging to the captains of medieval merchant ships, are built around picturesque courtyards, and their monumental doorways with a rich pattern of decor are good in themselves.
You can visit:
- the ancient acropolis with its Doric temple of Athena;
- the Hellenistic portico in the knight’s castle – a surprisingly successful mix of ancient and medieval traditions.
Although the city itself and the port appeared at least in 1100 BC, the surviving buildings were mostly built in the 6th century BC, and then they were repeatedly supplemented and rebuilt. On the site of the ever-filled northern beach, located in a cozy small cove, there is the largest commercial port of the Mediterranean once rustled. Also noteworthy are the beaches near the city.
Interesting: To the north of the city center the main city beach stretched. It is very popular among families with children and usually populous. More quiet and small beaches can be found south of the city.
It is a legendary architectural monument located on the island of Crete. According to the legend of the ancient Greeks, King Minos built it to conceal the betrayal of his wife, who gave birth to a monster, the Minotaur, from a sacred bull. The palace was built with numerous halls in the form of a labyrinth, so that the young men and girls sent to the Minotaur sacrifice once entering the palace could not find a way out.
According to the myth, Theseus was killed by the Minotaur, who voluntarily entered the palace-labyrinth. After killing the monster, he managed to find the way back with the help of a thread, which he pulled from the entrance.
There are several reasons whyn tourists like visiting this monument of architecture:
- You can travel at a time when, according to legend, the bull was still in the palace, and Theseus was going to battle with the beast.
- The frescoes and walls, among other drawings, preserved images of a bull – sometimes peaceful, and sometimes – furious.
- In the palace there were more than a thousand rooms and moving along it you can reach the premises by the height located on the fourth floor.
- Also on the walls of the palace there were images of ancient symbols, some of which still remain a mystery.
Interesting: The palace of King Minos is one of the few places that was covered in ancient myths and legends, and which modern man can visit and see with his own eyes.
The promenade goes along the fortress walls, which gives it an amazing medieval look. The embankment is divided into three ports:
- the historical Mandraki pier, for small yachts and sightseeing boats,
- a tourist port where cruise liners and a commercial port are moored,
- a port where you can see giant dry cargo ships.
All these modern ships are very unusual looking against the background of the fortress walls. Port Mandraki is interesting because according to the legend it was here that the famous Colossus of Rhodes was one of the seven wonders of the world. The statue collapsed during the earthquake in 222 BC. In those places where the widely spaced legs of the Colossus rested on the ground, now figures of deer stand on tall columns. At the port of Mandraki, three of the thirteen medieval windmills were preserved, in which grain was poured from merchant ships. At the end of the pier there is the fortress of St. Nicholas, which served as an important element of the defense system of Rhodes. To the north of the harbor there is the Church of the Annunciation – an ascetic and austere building. Today it is the Cathedral of Rhodes.
Interesting: Nearby there are the National Theater and Murata Reiza mosque with an exquisite white minaret.
The Rhodian fortress, built in the 15th century, by the standards of its time, was the most modern and impregnable. But nothing lasts forever. In the 16th century the fortress could not stand the Turkish siege and surrendered.
Some interesting historical facts:
- After the conquest by the Turks in 1523, it began to defend the Turkish lands, which lasted until 1912, until the island was captured by the Italians.
- In 1856, the Master’s Palace was destroyed by explosions and only in 1930, on the orders of Mussolini and Victor Emmanuel III, it was restored.
- Since 1947, Rhodes has become the part of Greece.
Its walls are decorated with scars left from cannon balls. It used to happen that it received up to 1000 shells of guns a day. But nothing harmed it enough to destroy, and the fortress is still preserved in good condition. Rhodes Fortress is an interesting place, which is definitely worth a visit if you are going to go to Greece.
Interesting: Finding yourself on the territory of the fortress, you feel in the past – so great is the effect of presence in this old and majestic place.
The legend says that it was in this cave that the god Zeus appeared, born of the goddess Rhea secretly from Kronos. And Zeus was not only born in her, but also grew up. After that, there were various cults, including sacrifices: archeological excavations say this. In honor of the god-Olympian in the cave his sanctuary was created. Today, to get into the cave, you need to overcome a fairly steep climb. At first visitors enter the cave lobby, in which the main altar stands. On the stone steps you can go down to the main hall. Deeper is the hall in which Zeus was born, and the underground lake. The cave is interesting not only for its history as there are also a lot of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Being inside the cave you are going to be impressed by:
- the huge rocky stone icicles stalactites hang from the ceiling,
- dark niches barely illuminated by lanterns,
- an underground lake where according to legend, Zeus bathed, and a bizarre outgrowth of stalactites – “mantle of Zeus”.
Interesting: During the excavations, ceramics and figurines were found here, as well as altars dating back to ancient times.
Old town Rethimno is located in the western part of Crete. It was built by the Venetians in the 13th century. Rethimno is incredibly cozy and picturesque due to the following things:
- In the architecture of its buildings, you can feel the breath of the Venetian era with an admixture of the Ottoman period.
- The historical center of Rethimno is rich in interesting museums, among which, in the first place, it is worth noting the Archaeological Museum, located in the Venetian “Loggia”, which numismatic collection is one of the most valuable in the world.
The exhibits of other museums should also be given attention. They help to better understand and to learn the history, traditions and culture of the Cretan people.
Interesting: The old part of the city is buried in a cobweb of narrow ancient streets, and in its very center there is the famous Rimondi fountain.
The island of Spinalonga is the remains of land. Once upon a time on this land the city of Olus was located, which because of the strongest earthquakes went under the water. As a result of excavation in 1960, the island managed to find traces of the ancient civilization:
- early Christian basilica,
- ancient windmills.
In the middle of the 15th century, a fortress was built on the island of Spinalonga by the Venetians – it served as a defense against the attacks of pirates, which in those years were one of the main headaches for European countries. After the proclamation of the independence of Greece, the island of Spinalonga was turned into a leper colony – they brought sick people with leprosy, and they were not allowed to leave the island until the end of their days. This continued until 1955.
Interesting: In the early 17th century, the island was captured by the Ottoman Empire, and a Turkish settlement appeared near the fortress.
Heraklion is the capital and the so-called gate of Crete, the main city and the largest port on the whole island. It is the pier of Heraklion that welcomes tourists from all over the world. This is the most important transport hub of Europe, which connects Asia, Africa and Europe.
The city has historically expanded from an ancient harbor, the former center of the Minoan civilization. Today, Heraklion is the fifth largest city in Greece, representing a huge metropolis with its own:
- major museums,
- major universities.
This is the most important cargo and tourist transport hub, which daily receives hundreds of ships. Here hundreds of snow-white yachts and small sailing ships are moored, many fishing boats and small boats unload their catch every morning. And against the backdrop of all this, the masses of tourist ships froze motionless.
Interesting: The port plays a huge role for the city and all of Greece.
The plateau of Lassithi is a huge valley surrounded by hills and mountains. Lassithi is a rich and fertile area, where many villages are located, whose inhabitants are engaged in livestock and agriculture.
Especially attractive for tourists is the wealth of picturesque plateau landscapes. The valley is rich in sights as well. One of them is the irrigation of gardens with the help of windmills, which have been used here since the XV century. Despite their displacement by pumps, it is still possible to see many mills catching wind with their linen blades.
No less interesting sight is the cave, in which, according to the legends, Zeus was born. In the cave you can see:
- natural sculptures,
- stalagmites of the most diverse and fantastic forms.
Interesting: Near the cave is Mount Dikti, from the top of which opens a beautiful view of the entire plateau.
A truly heavenly place to relax in Greece is Balos Bay on the northwestern coast of Crete, where the coast is washed by three seas:
- the Aegean,
You can get to Balos by car (preferably a jeep, because the road is difficult), or, which is easier, but more beautiful – by the ship, and at the same time admire this bay from the sea. Particularly noteworthy is the beautiful beach of Balos bay, very beloved by tourists. Beach Balos, located 60 km from the city of Chania, is
considered the most beautiful beach in the region. There is a beach in the north-western edge of Crete, on the Gramvous Peninsula. The beach is wild, has almost nothing but stunning shores and a magnificent and clean sea. Find sun loungers or at least sunbeds is almost impossible, but this has its own charm.
The bay water is saturated with a unique composition of minerals, which form an extraordinary phenomenon of azure water. Scientists estimated that there are about 14 shades in the bay waters.
Interesting: It is worth emphasizing that this particular beach is considered the most beautiful in the whole Mediterranean – it is not for nothing that the princess Diana and Prince Charles have chosen this place for their honeymoon.
The Acropolis of Athens is an exceptionally valuable architectural monument. It is believed that the building of the hill on which it is located began a long time ago: already in the archaic period (650-480 BC) in the History of Greece on the hill ancient temples and buildings were located, and in III BC. E. The Acropolis basically served as a refuge for local residents from the raids of foreigners.
Once the Acropolis was adorned with many beautiful sculptures, but the structure itself and sculptures were spared neither by people, nor by time, nor by natural cataclysms. In addition, with time and marble, and other materials used in construction dim, lose their quality, are destroyed. The Greek government has several times subjected the structure of restoration, which now allows you to see much of what it was centuries and millennia ago. Also, copies of the sculptures were made, which filled and recreated the beauty and majesty that was in the Acropolis in ancient times. The original statues, sculptures, as well as the reliefs of the Acropolis, are kept in museums – including:
- the British Museum,
- the Louvre Museum
- and the Acropolis Museum.
Interesting: This unusual architectural monument suffered a great deal from the human hand: for example, in 1827 damage was inflicted by a Turkish shell, and destruction was increased by an earthquake in 1894.
In the Medieval part of the city of Rhodes on the eponymous island of Greece on the street Knights you can see a fairytale castle – the Palace of the Grand Masters. The history of this palace, which begins in 1408 from the moment of its creation, is very interesting. Earlier on the site of the palace there was the temple of the patron saint of the island – the god of the Sun of Helios, later the Byzantine fortress was located here. It was badly damaged in 1480 during the Turkish siege and earthquake, but these damages were soon eliminated by the Grand Master Piere D’Oubusson.
Some facts from the history of the palace:
- During the Turkish rule the building was turned into a prison. It was almost completely destroyed by subsequent earthquakes and the explosion of the powder storehouse in the nearby church of St. John.
- The palace was reconstructed in 1940 by decree of Cesare Maria de Vecchi, who was then Governor of the Dodecanese.
- In 1948, the palace was transformed into a museum in which exhibits depicting the life of the islanders in the ancient period and in knightly times were presented.
Now in the inner halls there are unique sculptures, dated to the Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. The castle itself consists of many halls. They are only 158, but not all are open to general attendance.
Interesting: Like a fairytale castle, the Palace of the Grand Masters has its riddles, which make tourists from all over the world come to the city of Rhodes.