16th October 2015
People have lived on the island of Crete for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that it’s the setting of a lot of ancient Greek stories. With tourists still able to visit some of these famous sites, it’s no surprise that people flock to villas in Crete all year round.
From gods to kings to mythological beasts, a lot of history has accumulated since the island was first discovered in 10,000 BC. Here are some of our favourite Ancient Greek settings that you can visit when you go to Crete.
Zeus, the supreme god of Olympus, was born on the island of Crete in the Psychro cave at the foot of Mount Dikti. His mother Rhea had given birth to him there in order to hide him from his father Cronus, who had thus far swallowed all of his siblings. Nowadays, a visit to the ‘cave of Zeus’ is usually accompanied by guides who will cast shadow puppets on the wall to tell this story.
Even after Zeus had banished his father to the underworld there were still other threats to the island. One of them was a giant lizard, which Zeus launched a lightning bolt at and instantly turned it to stone. According to Greek mythology, this is what created the island of Dia and is the reason why it is the shape of a giant lizard.
Palace of Knossos
The Minoans were a Bronze Age population named after King Minos, and they were the first European citizens. The Palace of Knossos is the second most visited archaeological site in Greece, after the Acropolis, with more than 1 million visitors every year.
What makes it so fascinating is that it’s the setting of the Minotaur and Labyrinth story. It’s thought that the tale of the Labyrinth came to be because of the complexity of the palace layout. Furthermore, the sport of bull-leaping and worship of bulls may have played a part in the construction of Theseus who slew the Minotaur.
Daedalus was the architect behind the labyrinth but he and his son, Icarus, ended up being held captive there by King Minos after it was built. Not one to be trapped, Daedalus created wings so that he and his son could fly out of the maze and to safety. Icarus, however, flew too close to the sun and the wax holding his wings together melted.
So there’s just some of the history behind this beautiful and fascinating island, to give you some more ideas of where to visit on your next trip. But whatever you’re looking for, whether that involves culture or relaxing by the pool, Crete has it all.