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Colossal Knossos (Knossos Palace)
It is impossible to visit Crete without touring the Palace of Knossos, the pre-eminent Minoan settlement and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Discovered in the late 1870s by Minos Kalokerinos, it was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans over a period spanning three decades and is linked through Cretan myths with King Minos, son of Zeus and Europa. Minos may have ruled in legend, but it now seems more likely ‘Minos’ was not a single king but the title given to the rulers of Knossos. The palace covers an area of 20,000 sq m and is so large and labyrinthine that scholars believe it was the inspiration for the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

 

Phaistos (Festos)
Phaistos is located 62 km south of Iraklion. It was the second biggest city of the Minoan Crete and it is built on a hill, at an altitude of 100 m from sea level, in the fertile valley of Messara.

 

Since 1900, continuous archaeological excavations from the Italian Archaeological School, have brought to light the magnificent Minoan palace of Phaistos with its great royal courts, the great staircases, the theatre, the storerooms and the famous disk of Phaistos.

 

Gortys
Gortys is located at the Messara Valley, near the village of Agioi Deka, on the 46th km of the main road from Iraklion to Tibaki. One of the oldest and most important monuments of Christianity in Crete is the Basilica of Agios Titos, which was the seat of the first bishops of the Cretan Church. In the center of Gortys was the temple of Pythios Apollon, the most important pre-christianic temple of the city, built on the ruins of a Minoan settlement.

 

The most important monuments of the ancient Gortys are the ruins of the acropolis and the odeum.

 

Agia Triada
Four kilometers west from Phaistos are the ruins of the Royal Villa, the Small Minoan Palace at Agia Triada. The small Palace served as a summer residence for the King of Phaistos, and consists of two sections, one section stretching towards the north, the other towards the west.

 

Ideon Cave
The Ideon Cave is 55 km from Iraklion and at an altitude of 1.100 m. It is the sacred cave in Nidha plateau at Psiloritis, where Rhea hid her son Zeus to save him from his father Kronos.

 

Archaelogical findings include bronze statuettes, bronze shieldsi and other offerings to the father of all gods.  In small distance there are two springs, Zothimos and Kanithos, that they still keep their pre-hellenic names.

 

Zakros (Palace)
The palace of Zakros stands 45km to the east of the town of Sitia, in a sheltered bay on the eastern coast of Crete, oriented politically and commercially towards the major civilisations of the Middle East. It was brought to light by the great Greek archaeologist N.Platon at 1961.

 

The total area of the palace, including ancillary buildings, is approximately 10,000 sq.mThe long term excavations have yielded over 10,000 objects, many of them considered unique, which are now on display in the Iraklion and Sitia museums.

 

Malia (Palace)
The arcaeological site of Malia is located 3 km East of the village of Malia.

 

The Palace of Malia, which covered an area of 7,500 sq.m., is the third largest of the Minoan Palaces and is considered the most "provincial" from the architectural point of view.

 

According to tradition the third son of Zeus and Europa, Sarpedon, ruled here.