27th February 2017
History is full of incredible stories, people, and events that may seem unreal in the modern day. The exploration of these events can make for some of the best holidays that you will ever experience. Crete is no stranger to history and you will likely find some of the most compelling tales to ever exist.
During your Cretan journey, there will be many places to explore, with almost every street having an incredible historical story for you to uncover. But, there are some places which are a must-see for the history buff (in a sustainable way, of course).
Palace of Knossos
Knossos is the largest Bronze Age site to be found on Crete and considered to be the largest European city on record. The palace that resides there is one of the best examples of architecture from the period – having been abandoned circa 1380-1100 BC – and is a remarkable sight.
The palace itself was never simply the residence of the monarch as it is in the modern day. It had rooms suitable for a royal family, but at its heart lies chambers meant for civic, religious, and economic issues to be addressed. An elaborate centre of both trade and culture for the Ancient Minoans. As such, it could be said to hold more historical importance than a simple palace ever could.
The Palace of Knossos is perhaps best associated with the Greek myth of King Minos and his labyrinth. The monarch had the inventor Daedalus construct a labyrinth at the site, supposedly, which was then used as an elaborate cage for his son, The Minotaur. It is from this legend that the site was named Knossos, as those that originally excavated the site could see no reason that it was not the seat of King Minos and thus it has held this name since its discovery.
A National Park in since 1962, Samaria Gorge is a place of incredible beauty on the island and a World’s Biosphere Reserve. It has played an important role throughout history as the perfect place for locals to escape the tyranny of foreign invaders. It is a location that is well-located for such a purpose and easy to defend from a military perspective.
The name for the gorge, Samaria, comes from a village of the same name that was located in the gorge. It was inhabited during the Byzantine rule of the area, circa the fourteenth century, where it again became a sanctuary for those rebelling against the Venetian rule.
Later, the gorge housed over four thousand women and children in 1770 as they fled the persecution of the invading Turks. The gorge was held by only two hundred men, who stood firm and forced the invaders to flee. It also housed the survivors of a failed revolt in 1820. This was a period of great turmoil which Turkey managed to quench later in 1869, but Samaria Gorge was forever resistant and never again in Turkish hands.
For this reason, the area is perhaps one of the most significant in Cretan history as it has preserved whole generations from those that have tried to take Crete for their own.