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The Old Town of Chania

The Old Town of Chania

The Old Twon of Chania is characterized by a blend of Venetian, Ottoman and Neoclassical monuments and architecture, attesting its long and rich history. Its streets are narrow, colorful and picturesque, which is why it's sometimes called "Venice of the East". During your stroll here you'll pass by flowered balconies, traditional knife shops, Cretan boot shops, lively restaurants and cozy cafes. Don't miss the beautiful promenade along the Venetian port, where you can see the Venetian lighthouse, one of the symbols of Chania. The town used to be surrounded by walls, but only parts of them are still standing nowadays.
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Historical Museum of Crete

Historical Museum of Crete

Founded in 1953, the Historical Museum of Crete in Heraklion hosts a permanent collection showcasing the history of Crete from the third century AD to the end of the Second World War. Artefacts, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and other objects of interest are displayed in chronological order, with visual materials, multimedia and audio guides available during your visit to help you learn more about Crete's fascinating past. A section of the museum is dedicated to the famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis. Another highlight of the exhibition are two paintings by the Greek artist El Greco: The Baptism of Christ and View of Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
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The Minoan Palace of Knossos

The Minoan Palace of Knossos

The ruins of the Palace of Knossos, the largest and most brilliant centre of the Minoan civilization, are located 5 kilometres south of the historical centre of Heraklion. Twisting corridors and stairwells, which used to connect as many as five storeys, create a truly labyrinthine complex, which is why the palace has often been seen by scholars as the equivalent of the mythological Minoan "Labyrinth". The palace features important architectural innovations for the times it was built in, such as water supply systems and sewer networks, shafts for the lighting and ventilation of the lower levels of the palace complex, as well as rooms equipped with baths and sanitary facilities that almost match modern constructions in ingenuity and function.
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The Natural History Museum of Crete

The Natural History Museum of Crete

The Natural History Museum of Crete does not only present the natural wealth of the island, but also of the rest of Greece and of the Eastern Mediterranean. Here you'll find, among other things, a discovery centre for children, an earthquake simulator, aquariums and terrariums, a large collection of fossils and a replica of the largest mammal ever, which lived on Crete 9 million years ago. You'll also be able to learn about the geological evolution of Crete, about plants and organisms that thrive on the island or about extinct and endangered species. The animals are displayed by way of accurate representations in their real dimensions (dioramas). The museum features an outdoor botanical garden as well.
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Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

The gorge of Samaria is the longest and one of the most imposing gorges in Europe. Perhaps the most popular trekking path of Greece runs along its course, passing by varied landscapes, water springs, different types of trees, cliffs, pools and impressive rocks. The gorge is 18 kilometres long and its width varies between 150 and 3-4 metres at its narrowest point, which is known as "Sideroportes". The walk down the gorge begins at "Xiloskalo", in Omalós (at an altitude of 1.200 metres). It requires 4 to 8 hours depending on the walking pace.
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Venetian walls of Heraklion

Venetian walls of Heraklion

The fortification works of Heraklion are rightfully counted among the most important in the Eastern Mediterranean, regarding their size, aesthetics and their functional superiority. Heraklion had been already fortified in the years of the First Byzantine period (330-840 AD). These fortifications were supplemented by the Arabs (840-961), the Byzantines (961-1204), and the Venetians (after 1211). It was the looming Turkish threat that compelled the Venetians to reinforce the defense of the capital city of the "Regno di Candia" (Kingdom of Crete), using the latest technologies of the time. The fortifications that can be seen today were based on designs made by the Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli, and they were built somewhere between 1462 and 1560. The main wall was three kilometres long and had four gates and seven bastions. It was surrounded by a large moat which once had additional bastions on the outside.
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Nikos Kazantzakis Museum

Nikos Kazantzakis Museum

This museum in the village of Myrtia allows visitors to learn more about the famous Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote for instance "Zorba the Greek" and "The Last Temptation of Christ". Among the things on exhibit there are his personal correspondence and diaries, various personal items and souvenirs from his travels, photographs, models of theatrical sets and costumes from performances of his plays, rare audio-visual material, and works of art inspired by his books.
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Lasithi Plateau

Lasithi Plateau

At an altitude of 850 metres, the Lasithi Plateau is the largest mountain plain in Crete and the only one inhabited all the year round. Nowadays, it has been transformed into a giant garden. Until some time ago, irrigation was managed by thousands of small windmills. There are numerous settlements at the plain where you can try local delicacies and the traditional raki drink. Lasithi plateau and its surroundings are also ideal for trekking walks or even cycling and mountain biking. A major attraction is the Dikteon cave above Psychro village, where – according to legend – the god Zeus was born and raised.
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Toplou Monastery

Toplou Monastery

Panagia Akrotiriani (Our Lady of the Cape) Monastery, colloquially known as Toplou Monastery, is one of Crete’s most impressive historic sights. It is a true bastion and a living museum of the island’s monastic history. To make the most of the limited space inside the fort’s walls and the safety they afforded, cells were built across three storeys. There is a small but solemn and stirring two-aisled church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to Saint John the Theologian, decorated with murals that still survive and featuring a chancel screen with noteworthy 18th century icons. The Ecclesiastic Art Museum houses some of Crete’s most significant icons, including Megas ei Kyrie' (Great Art Thou, Lord), a 1770 icon by Ioannis Kornaros. The icon is made up of four main sections, further separated into 57 smaller areas, and includes hundreds of faces which come together magnificently to depict the Great Blessing of Waters. The organic vineyards on the monastery’s grounds produce organic wine of excellent quality and it is also possible to visit the winery.
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Minoan Palace of Phaistos

Minoan Palace of Phaistos

The palace complex and the city of Phaistos were built on a hill, offering a panoramic view to the east, the north and the south, which is alone worth the visit. At the east, the fertile plain of Messara opens up with the Lasithi mountains in the background, while towards the south the Asterousia mountains come into view and to the north the majestic Psiloritis dominates the scenery together with the verdant hills at its foot. Phaistos was the second largest Minoan city and an important administrative centre of south-central Crete. The Minoan city covered a large area around the palace complex. Mythology links Phaistos to Rhadamanthus, a brother of Minos, whose dynasty is believed to have ruled in the city. According to another story, it was founded by Phaistos, a son of Hercules. Homer mentioned that the city took part in the Trojan War, led by Idomeneus, king of Knossos and the whole of Crete.
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Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery is perhaps the most known monastery of Crete due to the Holocaust of 1866. Its location and impressive architecture are also worth noting. This large fortified complex built at the end of the Venetian rule. Apart from the monks' cells, the central building also includes warehouses, stables and premises for processing agricultural products. The two-aisled church, dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen and to the Transfiguration of the Saviour, is one of the most important architectural monuments of the Cretan Renaissance. It was completed in 1587 and its facade clearly demonstrates the penetration of western architectural trends in 16th and 17th-century Crete.
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