CRETE: The Garden of Antiquity

Lying in my bed mid-morning dozing with the onset of hay fever I was suddenlyLying in my bed mid-morning dozing with the onset of hay fever I was suddenlyawakened by a twittering right above me…. imagine my astonishment – aswallow was hovering above me on my bed inside my bedroom and then she/hewheeled and flew around and chatted. Thankfully the little bird then flew out ofthe window without injury, and I hurriedly reduced the opening to avoid arepetition! This made me reflect on my very recent return to Crete, this timewestern Crete where we spent a week in early April. There of an evening theswallows and the swifts would swoop and dive and call and chatter excitedly asthe sun set and I wondered if our little swallow had been one of those. Now ourbeloved swallows have returned to nest once again on our home in Scotland.

Crete had ‘called’ to me yet again after my autumnal visit in 2015 and when weCrete had ‘called’ to me yet again after my autumnal visit in 2015 and when wearrived to spring sunshine and warmth and the blossom on trees and the callsof birdsong and the buzz of the bees it was a superb feeling. Looking out on tothe great Venetian Fortress of Heraklion from my balcony at the Lato BoutiqueHotel I was enchanted with the panorama.

Heraklion

Heraklion isHeraklion isGreece’s thirdlargest city andrepays attentionpreferably early inthe season whennot inundatedwith tourists. Avery excellentGreek breakfastfollowed with a saunter down to the yacht marina. The mighty stone Arsenalwhere in times past wooden boats were constructed but the ancient building isnow well preserved and shows just how important the sea, ships, boats, andmaritime life is to Greece’s largest island, the fifth largest in theMediterranean. It is so easy to use clichés such as ‘cradle of westerncivilization’ but there is no other way to accurately describe the antiquity of thisisland; layer upon layer of civilization has been laid down here and even at thisvery moment new archaeological discoveries are exposed or us all to wonderat and enjoy with careful conservation.

Knossos

Very briefly, the ancient history of Crete is that it is recognised as home to theVery briefly, the ancient history of Crete is that it is recognised as home to thefirst true Greek civilization in the second millennium before the birth of Christ.To break this into three periods there was the Classical Greek society of the Minoans and theMinoans and theMycenaeans. Thenfollowed what was used tobe called ‘a Dark Age’ butwhich now might berepaying closerarchaeological investigationand discovery; but Greecere-emerged into thesunlight as the mostimportant cultural, militaryand political force amongstthe Mediterraneancountries at that time. Thisthird period is known as theHellenistic Age, a period when new empires within the area we know as Greecetoday were frequently in conflict with each other and then their eventualconquest by the Roman Empire. It was quite simply an age of imperialism andcolonisation. However, Greece continued to dominate with her wealth ofculture, art and philosophy and very often the Romans espoused their thinkingeven when the Roman Empire was at its peak.

We went to visit Knossos which is very close to Heraklion. I had long wantedWe went to visit Knossos which is very close to Heraklion. I had long wantedto visit this amazing site and so on a brilliant sunny day with blue skies, paradingpeacocks and not too many other tourists we had a lovely visit. Go early asinevitably on a goodday it becomes hot.

Knossos2

Knossos is the wellpreservedKnossos is the wellpreservedsite of aMinoan palace andvillas. The Greekmyths known to mostfolk have helped itbecome steeped inmystery andenchantment. Themyth or legend is that it was the seat of King Minos beneath whose palace thebull-headed Minotaur hunted its victims in the labyrinth built by Daedalus. Thereality was that it has been proved to be the hub of a Bronze Age empire thatruled over the Aegean more than 4,000 years ago, Various Greek and Cretanarchaeologists tried to excavate but during the Ottoman occupation that wasfraught.

Finally, at the start of the 20th century Sir Arthur Evans was successful in hisFinally, at the start of the 20th century Sir Arthur Evans was successful in hisexcavations on the site which he had managed to actually buy.

Knossos Arthur Evans

He then turned it over to the state as it should be – sadly some of his mostHe then turned it over to the state as it should be – sadly some of his mostentrenched ideas have since proved to be wrong but it was Evans whoachieved what others dreamed of doing.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

It should be realisedthat many of the exhibits at Knossos are copies – the originals are quite rightlypreserved in the wonderful Heraklion Archaeological Museum which is a mustthe wonderful Heraklion Archaeological Museum which is a mustto visit. We had been there in late October and only touched a tiny fraction ofwhat is there beautifully displayed. After a morning in the sunshine a great bigglass of chilled fresh orange juice was just what I needed before we continuedon our journey in to the region south of Rethymno.

Knossos palace

On the way to Eleutherna, which is a veryOn the way to Eleutherna, which is a veryrecently discovered site of great archaeologicalimportance, we were asked to visit the mostcharming Pottery and workshop of George andMariniki Dalamvelas in the village ofMargarites. I have been shown hundreds ofpotteries and ceramic workshops in other partsof the world but this one enchanted.

Margarites

This in an ancient village of Margarites which has had a rich tradition inThis in an ancient village of Margarites which has had a rich tradition inceramics. The techniques used go back to Neolithic period and George createswonderful ceramic vessels and objets d’art. George demonstrates theseancient methods for the visitor and one can see and handle the raw materialsand see the stages of clay production, the wheel work and the polishing with apebble and the various little charming tricks of the objects he makes.

Margarites1

We thenWe thenarrivedat what isancientEleutherna and had a cursory sight of the valley and then went for some muchneededlunch at the local Taverna Eleuthir in modern Eleutherna. This was alovely lunch all of Mama’s home cooking with the very best of Cretan cuisine. What can I say? Fresh produce, lovingly cooked and served instantlycuisine. What can I say? Fresh produce, lovingly cooked and served instantlymade for a total delight. Let me see, artichoke, capers, Cretan cheese, Dakoswhich is very traditional, Fava beans and meat rissoles and potatoes. Nowhere I must pause and say that the Cretans and the Scots and the Irish havesomething in common…a love of potatoes. Everywhere you go one sees bagsof potatoes and they play an important part in the Cretan diet, but the potatoomelet made at this Taverna was excellent. I shall make it with this season’snew potatoes here at home.

Margarites lunch

The meal is completed with the ubiquitous Raki and Loukoumas the lovelyThe meal is completed with the ubiquitous Raki and Loukoumas the lovelyCretan doughnut…not like other doughnuts but light and fried pastry in a honeysyrup…. totally yummy of which I never tired! Cretan honey is just wonderfuland I never stop paying homage to the Bees who are so important to the Cretancultures of old. They were wise people and knew that bees and their pollinationand production of honey were vital to human wellbeing.

We walked down from the modern village of Eleutherna down a steep roughWe walked down from the modern village of Eleutherna down a steep roughpath amongst the plethora of wonderful Cretan wild flowers to thearchaeological site. As gardeners, we were enchanted and thus our walk tooklonger because we would stop and ponder and photograph and enquire aboutthe various wild flowers which are the origins of so much that we have in herbaceous gardens today. Theherbaceous gardens today. Thepeace of the valley, the blue sky,the hills beyond, the birdsong,the odd butterfly, pleasantcompanionship in harmony withall the nature around made mereflect that we were to be shownsomething that goes back to 800BC – that is around 2,800 yearsago. Those people in thatcivilization also were in harmonywith their surroundings and oneis yet again made to feelreassuringly small andunimportant – a tiny dot in themillennia of civilization. Empirescome and go but that valley hassurvived and brought us beautyto this day.

Eleutherna was one of the mostEleutherna was one of the mostimportant cities of ancientCrete. On current evidence thesite was first inhabited at thebeginning of the 3rd millenniumBC. The city of Eleutherna covered an area of 3,000 - 4,000 square metresand the archaeological remains that have been uncovered suggest that the siteenjoyed at least three major periods of development.The Homeric period 9th-7th c BC, The Hellenistic and Roman periods 4th-1st c.BC and 1st-3rd/4th c.AD and then the third period The Early Byzantine period5th/7th c.AD.

Margarites2

The mountains still had their covering of snow and that combined with the blueThe mountains still had their covering of snow and that combined with the bluesky and strong sunshine was so beautiful with the lush green of the vegetation.

Eleutherna

We were shown the Necropolis which is absolutely fascinating.

Necropolis

The Orthi Petra necropolis, the outer limits of which are still unknown, dates onThe Orthi Petra necropolis, the outer limits of which are still unknown, dates oncurrent evidence between the early 9th and the 6th c.BC. Several foreigntravellers, lovers of antiquity, visited the region of Eleutherna after theVenetians banned habitation there in 1367; they came from 1415 right throughto 1868. In 1929 English scholar Humphrey Payne was the first to excavate atEleutherna. He lasted a mere few days and declared it to hold notreasure. Fast forward to 1984 when the newly founded ArchaeologyDepartment of the University of Crete sought to begin archaeologicalexcavations it requested the Ministry of Culture for two sites – one of which isAptera to the south of Souda Bay near Chania (where we went on to visit) andEleutherna. On 8th September 1985 excavation began under the supervisionof Professor Nikos Stampolidis here at Orthi Petra necropolis in Eleutherna. Onthe 19th June 2016, the President of the Greek Republic opened the site andthe museum and necropolis to the world.The Orthi Petra cemetery is unique among Early Iron Age sites in Crete,mainland Greece, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean in general but mostimportantly this necropolis with its finds of burials in pithoi, the great terracottajars used in Greek civilizations, some cremations and other very interestingfacts are truly illuminating as to the culture of that time. The period to which themonuments date coincides with the creation (9 /8th c. BC) and recording (7/6thc. BC) of the Homeric poems, the verses of which on Patroclus’s famousfunerary pyre (Iliad Book XXIII) are practically illustrated by the finds from thegreat tumulus. Furthermore, the grave gifts from the Orthi Petra cemetery(vases, weapons, and jewellery) their varied materials (gold, silver, iron, clay,glass, faience, ivory, etc) and style, are all incontrovertible witnesses of theirproduction methods and environment and of the contacts between Eleutherna and other cities inand other cities inCrete, theAegean islands,the Peloponnese,Attica, theDodecanese,Asia Minor,Cyprus, the coastof Syria andPalestine, Egypt,Phoenicia andprobably alsoEtruria during theGeometric andArchaic periods.

Eleutherna museum

We then went toWe then went tothe new museum which is now open since 19th June and saw the wonderfulartefacts that had been unearthed, some of them exquisite and minute andenchanting. Again, I stress the Bee is so significant as has been found in somemany ancient cultures globally. It is said that if the bees were to die out thenmankind may only have another four years. We globally need to protect andencourage bee populations asthe givers of life throughpollination…and of course theirproduct honey.

Now Eleutherna is opened to theNow Eleutherna is opened to thepublic together with the Museumand any further archaeology thatensues. Yet again Crete will havedemonstrated that she is thegreat cradle of westerncradle of westerncivilization.

Artemis Palace

Late afternoon found us atLate afternoon found us atRethymno on the coast. Our hotelThe Artemis Palace proved to beexcellent with a warm welcomeand spacious room and balconyand good service.That is when I would look out ofan evening on their stunningswimming pool and observe theswallows and their excitement.

Rethymno

Rethymno is the third largest of Crete’s cities and a delight. The Old Town isRethymno is the third largest of Crete’s cities and a delight. The Old Town isfull of great shops, tavernas, cafes, heritage sites, market place and harbour.

Rethymno Venetian port

Rethymno Carnival float

ThereThereare many elegant restaurants for fine dining and one can find somethingpleasant to suit one’s budget. This town too has seen the occupation byVenetians and Ottomans and has suffered through those occupations – but theheritage from those times is the architecture in the old town.

Rethymno elegant restaurants

TheThebeachstretchesfor elevenkilometres and is nice and sandy. There are boutique hotels within the old cityand modern resorts offering everything from water sports to diving or leisurelysunbathing.

Rethymno beach

Rethymno is a university town and this brings lots of energetic young people toRethymno is a university town and this brings lots of energetic young people toit throughout the year for which the locals are grateful…. they enjoy the vibrantlife because otherwise out of season it could be rather quiet. The only thing Inotice everywhere in Crete with deep regret is the mindless malicious graffitithat defaces fine buildings, private walls and even statues to the martyrs…. theyoung bring disrespect on themselves with this negative destructive behaviour.Greece has many challenges but indeed so has the rest of the world. Veneratewhat is precious, old, elegant, heritage or modern – young or old we are ALLcustodians of our living areas globally and that includes the flora and fauna ofour countries.

rethymno wild flowers

Crete is justly famed for its wild flowers; in fact, this year the spring had arrivedCrete is justly famed for its wild flowers; in fact, this year the spring had arrivedearly and though we saw plenty to delight us I am told it might have been bettertwo weeks before. Meadow upon meadow of stunning flowers, marguerites,poppies, pulmonaria, irises, dragon arums which are truly stunning,

rethymno wild flowers1

phlomis, wildphlomis, wildantirrhinums,cranesbills,acanthus,verbascum,petromarulawhich wasnew to us,cornflowersand of coursethe springflowering oftrees, plus thecuriouspollarding ofall themulberrytrees, and theolives withtheir tiny white flowers, plus the orange trees. Oh! the orange groves gave mesuch pleasure with their boughs heavy with bright round orange fruit but alsowith the sweet-smelling orange blossom.

rethymno wild flowers2

Rethymno lemon trees

TheseTheseorangesaresuperband easyto eatwithout aplate andknife.Thentherewereloquatsalso infruit plusof coursethelemonsfalling offtheirtrees.Cretans like others in The Cyclades love eating greens Vlito tossed in oil andsteamed or stir fried. They believe these simple plants that grow everywhereare essential for healthy eating and I enjoyed them too.

Rethymno orage trees

The famous Cretan diet if followed they say will help one to live a long life.The famous Cretan diet if followed they say will help one to live a long life.Cretans consume meat two or three times a week. Fruit and vegetables are consumed daily and then they also eatconsumed daily and then they also eatfish and legumes. Olive oil plays acentral role and Crete is a self-sufficientisland so thus is not suffering the severechallenges of other areas in Greece.Olives, now also bananas, avocadoes,oranges, mulberries, lemons, vine fruits,potatoes, vegetables, honey, goats andsheep with the resultant dairy productsmakes for healthy living and has alsobrought prosperity in part to the peopleof Crete. There is also a carob industrywhich makes an alternative tochocolate. The fava bean is what wecall the broad bean and is well usedalong the Mediterranean seaboard be itin Egypt or Greece.  Alongside all the flowers are the variousherbs like Dictamus which is a local plantof Crete and when boiled makes a teafor medicinal purposes. The other herb Iwas persuaded to buy is Mountain tea. Itis a flavoursome plant with over 100different varieties growing around theMediterranean. Boil in water andconsume the liquid sweetened withhoney and this is meant to help if onehas a cold. Oregano - marjoram is foundeverywhere as is thyme and of coursesage.

filo kadaifi

The various fruits are preserved in sugar syrups and make the most divine jamsThe various fruits are preserved in sugar syrups and make the most divine jamsfor want of a better term, but the fruits are whole…. kumquats, persimmon,plums, cherries, oranges…. Oh! the Greek breakfast in a good hotel with all thisto heap on one’s plate alongside lovely pancakes or toast is delectable. Asboth a cook and a gardener Crete ticks many of our requirements for sheersimple pleasures.When staying at Rethymno we explored their Venetian castle/fortress built in1573; this castle is one of the largest ever built by the Venetians and it broodsover the headland looking down on the old town.

Rimondi fountain

There is an Historical and FolkArt Museum, an Archaeological Museum, the elegant Rimondi Fountain built in1626 is at the heart of the Old Town and the Beach front which is charming lined with palm trees and a good place to saunter or observe the world. Thelined with palm trees and a good place to saunter or observe the world. Thereminder of the Turkish occupation is the Nerandzes Mosque but it hasmorphed into a music college though it had started life originally as a Latinchurch. We had a fine meal at the Palazzine de Corina which also has luxuriousheritage suites in which to stay. Of course, Greek coffee or Cretan coffee isdrunk in all the cafes but I just stuck with tea or cappuccino!

We visited the Convent of Saint Irene and met with the Nuns who were so busyWe visited the Convent of Saint Irene and met with the Nuns who were so busypollarding their mulberry trees. This peaceful convent is perched high up on ahill and has been restored and its official name is The Holy Monastery of AghiaIrini. There is some evidence that this monastery (they appear not to use theword convent in Greece or Crete) may have existed as early as the secondByzantine period 843-1204.

Rethymno Greek orthodox church

However, a legal document of 1637 refers to its church and function in the lastHowever, a legal document of 1637 refers to its church and function in the lastperiod of the occupation by the Venetians. Then followed a challenging historythrough troubled times and revolution and the buildings and the buildingsdescended into ruin. The Bishop of Rethymno who was in office from 1987 to1996 visited the forlorn ruins and was inspired to rebuild and restore the wholeplace and re-establish a living monastery which is now a delight to visit to seethe beauty of the churches and the icons and talk with the nuns and visit theirshop where they sell lots of different items. I curiously bought shampoobecause I spied that theirs had a high percentage coconut oil therein and knowthat is very beneficial which I told them….to market it more robustly! They alsosell icons and handmade candles and herbs.There is a military museum close by and the wonderful Mili Gorge to visit andexplore, but by this time the sun was high in the sky and I declared lunch wasmuch needed! We went to a family run place on the main road at Rethymnocalled Zisi. It was a very good experience culinary wise but also for the generalambience. It was Friday afternoon and all the locals had come to lunchtogether….it was pulsating with people having a good time and eating simplegood Cretan foods. We loved it. Often locals cannot afford to be in some elegantbistro or upmarket hostelry, but here it was the week-end and they were outtogether – good value too of course!

Artemis Palace1

We ate in our hotel that evening and the service is very good . Judging by the numbers the majority are on a half board basis and thus always. Judging by the numbers the majority are on a half board basis and thus always‘eat in’, but the food is good and with choices and excellent service…. very goodfor children and being spring holidays there were many from northern countrieswith their parents and grandparents.

The next morning found us saying farewell to Rethymno which we love andThe next morning found us saying farewell to Rethymno which we love andventured forth into the mountains in our hire car.The roads are good and it is only at crossroads one should be extra careful offellow motorists! We found ourselves up in Lappa which is a mountain villagewhich has had culture upon culture descend and leave their heritage. A friendlycafé owner conversed in English and we set off to look at the various sites tobehold. This ancient city (more like a mountain village) is found at the currentposition of Argiroupolis. Thename’s origins are from theancient writers. Ptolemaeus,Skylax and Strabon who referto it as Lappa. On the coinsdated between 400-300 BCthe name of this city isabbreviated and it had anhonourable record ofproviding refuge for allmanner of people who arrivedhaving been driven out oftheir former dwelling places.We just marvelled at thewhole antiquity of the placeand how the locals of coursetake it all for granted. Iprobably most enjoyed thewild flowers but mosaicpavements, ancientfountains, carvings and suchlike were still all there. Themountains of Crete are grandand whether it is Mount Ida orThe White Mountains theystill had a sprinkling of snow.It was said that because ofthese mountains and thesnows Crete was never badlyoff for water in the highsummer months, but thesedays even in Crete theclimate has changed and thesnows do not appear to last that long. Driving down a country road towardsChania we came across a meadow of the Dragon Arum. Dracunculus vulgarisis an impressive plant with a height that often exceeds 1 metre. Its flower is adark red, maroon of variable brightness. The large leaves are deeply cut andmarbled with white. The stem of the plant is also marbled. Dracunculusvulgaris is found in large populations along old paths, in olive groves, in rubbly areas, in gorges and river beds. It flowers from late March to May. We smeltareas, in gorges and river beds. It flowers from late March to May. We smeltnothing bad but we did not actually touch the blooms but photographed them inwonder as they are stunning in size and colour …. all over the meadow. Wewere chuffed to bits.When we arrived at a small and unremarkable town of Georgioupolis we hadan excellent lunch at the local taverna; the service was friendly and efficientand the food excellent. Then we motored into Chania and stayed at the verygood Kydon Hotel on the main square which has car parking which is essentialand so helpful.Chania is considered Crete’s prettiest town and was for a long time the capitalof the island.

chania crete

It has colourful old Venetian buildings ringing the sheltered harbour and the OldIt has colourful old Venetian buildings ringing the sheltered harbour and the OldTown is beautiful and characterful with so much that emphasises the clashesof cultures and beliefs through the centuries.

There are good beaches on the Akrotiri peninsula to the east. The Turks ruledThere are good beaches on the Akrotiri peninsula to the east. The Turks ruledCrete for 250 years so naturally there remains Turkish architectural influenceall over the old areas. We were taken on a long and thorough city walk in theevening and shown so much that would be difficult to detail here. There is theChania Archaeological Museum, the privately run Maritime Museum which werated highly, the Cretan Folklore Museum, the Lighthouse, the Schiavo Bastionand Venetian Walls which repay close attention, the Mosque of the Janissariesbuilt in 1645 when the Turks conquered the island, the Byzantine Collectionnext to the Firkas (the bastion of Chania) which covers 1000-year history of the Byzantine Empire and theByzantine Empire and the15th century Etz HayyimSynagogue from the 15thcentury. There is plenty tosee or just wander andsoak in the atmosphere ofthis delightful town and ofcourse shop! Chania’searliest settlers wereMinoans. Later in 520 BCpeople from Samos arrivedand from 1252 until 1645 itwas occupied by theVenetians who fortified thetown and the harbour. Thesiege by the Turks lasted 55 days and from 1645 till 1898 it remained in Turkishhands.

Chania old port

The sobering BattleThe sobering Battlefor Crete continuedthroughout WorldWar II withcourageous Cretanfighters fightingalongside British andGreek andCommonwealthForces but theGerman garrison heldout until the end of theWar in May 1945. ToAll these Heroes wepaid respect both inthe Maritime Museum which charts it all brilliantly but we went also to SoudaBay.

Souda bay war cementary

TheTheSoudaBay WarCemeteryisbeautifully maintained on the edge of the sea by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission of the UK. On 28th October 1940 Italy had invadedGraves Commission of the UK. On 28th October 1940 Italy had invadedmainland Greece from Albania and though initially they were repulsed then theGerman intervention forced the Greek Army and a Commonwealthexpeditionary force sent from Egypt the previous month to be evacuated and tofall back on Crete. As a child of a soldier one cannot help but think of thesupreme sacrifice so many paid to help achieve a peaceful victory from darkforces. The Battle for Crete was a German victory but a costly one. It isestimated that out of an assault force of just over 22,000 men, the Germanssuffered over 6,500 casualties of which over 4,000 were killed or missing. Ofthe total Commonwealth force in Crete of 32,000 men, approximately 18,000were evacuated, 12,000 were taken prisoner and 2,000 died. As one stoodthere on a sunny day with the sea sparkling blue it was not difficult to conjureup a vision of death and destruction but now these Heroes lie in peace and wesalute them. Both of us had fathers serving in WWII who went on to have happyfulfilled lives, so we honour those who did not.

The Maritime MuseumThe Maritime Museumhowever concentrates on thewhole history of Crete andthe Sea and it was apleasure to see young schoolchildren being taught theirown heritage, much as wesee with our owngrandchildren here inScotland. We went to dinnerand then again lunch thenext day at Zepos right thereon the harbour front. It is amost elegant restaurant butupmarket with an emphasis on delicious food and good service.

Above Zepos is the charming newZepos is the charming newboutique luxury hotel Domus Renierwhich is owned by the same lady. It is an old Venetian mansion that has beencompletely modernized inside and provides a most wonderful luxury hotel with stunning views and good food andstunning views and good food andservice. We subsequently stayed there inOctober 2016 and recommend the fusionof ancient mansion into modern luxurytiny hotel with friendly service andcomfort.

loved watching the sun rise through myloved watching the sun rise through mybalcony windows at Domus Renier andseeing the lovely harbour towncome to life in the warmth of thesunshine.

Whilst staying in Chania in April we had visited the ancient city of Aptera whichWhilst staying in Chania in April we had visited the ancient city of Aptera whichwas founded on the low hill of Paliokastro in the geometric period 8th c. BC. Theexcavations of this city are relatively recent and it was immensely interesting.The major find here was a Greek theatre entirely constructed from locallimestone. Again, we were visiting when the whole area was bedecked withspring wild flowers and that somehow increases its charm. Walking amongstolives and flowers, trying out the acoustics of the ancient theatre was a delightand then we went off to a hillside village for lunch – typical Cretan food and ashort walk in the start of a lovely Gorge. I was more enchanted with thevegetable gardens and the orange groves but know that this is good walkingcountry for those who like walking trails and hiking. We have many friends whojust adore Walking Holidays and certainly Crete ticks the boxes for that with itsmany famous gorges and valleys. As I had mentioned in my previous article oneastern Crete there is now a Golf Course east of Heraklion which should prove enjoyable for eager golfers right into the late autumn and of course in early spring.

Upon our return to Heraklion we visited the lovely Agios Minas Cathedral whichUpon our return to Heraklion we visited the lovely Agios Minas Cathedral whichis truly stunning in its Greek Orthodox beauty of intricate icon like art. St Minasis the Patron Saint of Heraklion. This great church was built in the second halfof the 19th century. Next door to it is St Catherine of Sinai Museum of ChristianArt…. a delightful ancient church with the most wonderful icon art. It has onlynewly opened and is a must see in our view.

Heraklion

The main theme of the exhibitionThe main theme of the exhibitionis the ecclesiastical artdeveloped in Crete from the14th to the 19th century.Among the most importantexhibits are icons by twoimportant representatives ofthe Cretan School of iconpainting – Angelos Akotantosearly 15th century and MichaelDamaskinos in the 16thcentury…. we loved it andthought it the perfect end forour sightseeing, followed by awonderful lunch at a typicalCretan restaurant in the citycentre but nearer to the sea. It iscalled Ouzeri tou Terzaki. A trulyfitting end to our lovely week inwestern Crete.

For those who seek Crete for sand and beach and warm leisurely swimmingFor those who seek Crete for sand and beach and warm leisurely swimmingthen go in the months of end of May to the middle of October. There is alsosome very good diving I am assured by the diving school at a big resort atRethymno. There is eventhe idea of staying inRethymno in the early partof the year to enjoy themilder climate andexperience various festivalsthat take place in mid-February. It could make avery nice long staydestination for senior folkwho have the ability tospend a month away.My overriding feeling in Aprilat the start of the seasonwas the warmth of welcome and how fresh everything was looking. Because Iadore springtime and the promise of the beauty to come. Truly,

 

Source: Aline Dobbie     https://goo.gl/photos/U2cZJkvSHNGi6XxJ9www.thepeacockscall.co.uk Aline’s own website

I considerCrete to be the Garden of Antiquity.https://goo.gl/photos/js5VGs7ypnWBFRnh6

My Gallery on Western Cretewww.travelcrete.gr Tourist Guides of Cretewww.lato.grwww.theartemis.gr www.domusrenier.gr