Your travel guide on Crete

Category Archives: Places to visit

The settlement is located in the north corner of the village of Tylisos (also Tylissos), south-west of Heraklion on the road to Anoyeia and Mount Psiloritis.


Although the site of the Minoan town was known early in the 19th Century, it was finally excavated by Hadzidakis from 1909-1913. Further excavations were carried out by N. Platon in 1953-55 and by A. Kanta in 1971.

The Minoan town occupied a large area and there are traces of houses from earlier periods (EM II to MM II) scattered throughout the site. Hadzidakis excavated only three of the main buildings and the two most important of these, Houses A and C, date from the very end of MM III (around 1600 BCE in the neopalatial period). They were destroyed by fire in LM IB (around 1450 BCE) when all the major sites in Crete apart from Knossos were either damaged, destroyed or abandoned. The site was later reoccupied early in LM IIIA.

Tylisos was clearly a very important site in Minoan times. Although no palace has been discovered here, much of the architecture was palatial in nature and according to Antonis Vasilakis, more impressive than the architecture of some of the palaces. The miniature frescoes are similar both in style and subject matter to those found at Knossos and may have been produced by the same painters. They make up the second largest group of miniature frescoes in Minoan Crete. The huge size of the three cauldrons found on the site not only attests to the numbers living in the mansions but also to the ability of the inhabitants to obtain large amounts of copper, the supply of which would have been centrally controlled at Knossos. The presence of Linear A inscriptions also points to the importance of Tylisos.

Room 2 in House C

House A is a large mansion which was originally a two storey building. The ground floor alone had 24 rooms. The walls were built of ashlar masonry. The mansion was entered from the east through a pillared court. There are two parts to the building. The northern part was the storage area, and two magazines were located here. A number of large pithoi were discovered here, and over 50 were found throughout the building. The southern part was a residential area, with a number of rooms organised around a Minoan Hall. In one of these rooms a tripod cooking pot was found. In the centre of the living quarters there was a light well.

The Minoan Hall is room 6. Its west wall is the pier-and-door partition outside which is a small, narrow forehall and a light well with columns that form a small portico. Driessen believes the house may have been altered in order to incorporate the Minoan Hall system. Unusually access to twelve of the fourteen rooms in the south wing is gained through the Minoan Hall since by closing the partitions the forehall becomes part of a corridor. This has also been observed at other sites including the palace at Zakros and the Little Palace at Knossos. Room 6 together with the rooms to the east and south of it form a square within a square pattern, which was used in Minoan architecture long before the Neopalatial “villas” were built. Given the number of rooms that lead directly off the Minoan Hall, it would not have been a very peaceful place, certainly during the day, though in the evenings it may have returned to what is considered one of the main roles of the Minoan Hall, as a gathering place.

The rooms to the west of the light well produced the best finds. Room 3, the most northerly of the three rooms contained jars, vases, loomweights and a bronze figurine which had almost certainly fallen from the floor above. Room 4, to the south, contained many small jars and Room 5 originally contained four large bronze cauldrons which were found by a peasant before the excavations began. Two Linear A tablets and some clay sealings were also recovered from the room. The Minoan Hall with its paved floor did not itself yield up anything significant. To the north-east of the Hall there was a lustral basin. A staircase led to the upper floor.

View of House B

House B has a much simpler design than House A and may have been an annexe although it might actually have predated House A. The building seems to have contained storage rooms, but little was found apart from a large collection of LM I vases in one of the rooms. The building was destroyed by fire.

House C is in fact two buildings. The first was built at the same time as Houses A and B, that is to say in the neopalatial period. After the general destruction of 1450 BCE the remains of the neopalatial mansion were covered with earth and consequently was found to be in quite good condition when it was excavated.

As with House A, the entrance to House C is to be found on the east side of the building. The rooms on the ground floor were connected by a series of four corridors. These linked a possible shrine in the southern part of the building to the store rooms in the western part of the building and finally the residential area in the northern part of the building. There were three staircases leading to the upper floor and in the northern part of the building a lustral basin was found. As well as jars and clay vases, fragments of frescos which had fallen from the upper floor were also discovered in House C.

Later on a LM III building was built on top of House C and even later still a Greek sanctuary covered the northern part of the building. Little remains of the LM III building. A pithos found in the storage area was inscribed in Linear A.

The cistern also dates from the later LM III period. Like the cistern at Zakros it can be entered by steps. An aqueduct with clay pipes can also still be seen. The name Tylisos is to be found in the Linear B tablets from Knossos and is a pre-Greek name. A peak sanctuary which remained in use until at least LM IA is located on the Pyrgos hill above the site.

The site is open to the public and a small admission charge is made.

East entrance to House A
Room 15, House A
Room 18, House A, from the north
Room 18, House A, from the south
Room 17, House A, from the south
Room 6, House A
Room 11, House A
Room 3, House A
Room 6, House A, from above
Lustral basin, house C
Room 15, House C
Room 15 and channel to cistern, House C

LM III cistern

The Palace of Phaistos lies on the East end of Kastri hill at the end of the Mesara plain in Central Southern Crete. To the north lies Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete.


To the north lies Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete. On the slopes of Psiloritis is the Kamares cave, probably a religious or cult centre for Phaistos and the Mesara plain. In this cave a very fine pottery style was discovered from the Middle Minoan period, which has been named Kamares Ware after the cave in which it was found. Kamares ware has only been found at Palace sites like Phaistos and Knossos, suggesting that it was specially produced for whatever elite was based in the Palaces.

A couple of kilometres to the west of Phaistos is the important Minoan site of Ayia Triadha. To the south of Phaistos are the Asterousia mountains beyond which lies the Libyan Sea. To the south west is Kommos, the ancient port of Phaistos and to the east, the vast Mesara plain, the single largest fertile area in Crete, which in Minoan times was populated with small settlements with their distinctive tholos tombs.

The Old Palace

Phaistos: The theatral area, with the West Court and raised walkway
The theatral area, with the West Court and raised walkway

The Palace was excavated by the Italian archaeologist Halbherr at the beginning of the 20th century. The earliest settlements on the site, which lies close to the Yeropotamos, one of the few rivers in Crete to flow all year round, date from the Neolothic Period (c.4000 BCE) . It is likely that in the Early Minoan period small settlements were scattered over the hill on which the Palace later stood. Dark on light pottery (Agios Onouphrios ware) has been found in the prepalatial levels on the hill, but no Vasiliki ware from the Early Minoan II period has been found on the site.

The Old Palace was built on the site at the beginning of the Second Millenium, known as the Protopalatial Period (c.1900-1700 BCE). It required an enormous amount of work to build the palace. First of all three huge terraces were levelled. The palace was then constructed on two of these terraces, the Theatral Terrace and the Lower Terrace.

Very thick ground floor walls were built running east-west along the contour of hill, while less important walls and the walls of the upper floor rooms were orientated north-south. The walls were plastered and painted and in some rooms gypsum dados lined the lower part of the walls. In many rooms benches were built along some of the walls and niches were included in the walls themselves for storing small objects.

Phaistos: Part of the old palace east of the New Palace
Part of the old palace east
of the New Palace

Each of the three terraces would have had its own courtyard crossed by raised walkways to the west of the palace. The palace was built on two levels with the third floor of the wing on the lower terrace rising to the same height as the ground floor on the upper terrace.

The main entrance to the Palace, Room II, which to the modern eye looking at the remains of the neopalatial palace seems strangely located at the south end of the building, was in fact placed in a central position between the two wings of the Old Palace. Now blocked by structures from the New Palace, it would originally have led straight to the Central Court. Various other symmetrical architectural features were built into the West Facade, which would, to the Minoan visitor, have been one of the most impressive parts of the whole building.

There was a total of six entrances into the palace from the west court. Apart from the direct access through room II, the others would have gone through a maze of small rooms, some really very small, and made to seem smaller still by the benches lining some of the walls. The benches were covered with plaster similar to that used for buildings from the same period at Malia. The plaster covered the entire room.

Getting from room to room was not easy. Sharp turns would suddenly appear or one would be forced to change floor level. The orientation changed from east-west to north-south on the upper floor. Rooms in the West Wing were used among other things for storing pottery or agricultural produce, while others were used to prepare food and one group has been identified as a shrine, although the evidence cited may not be sufficient for a definite identification.

Phaistos: storage jar
Storage Jar

Twice it was severely damaged by earthquakes and rebuilt so three distinct phases are visible to archaeologists. Levi, who excavated here from 1950 to 1971 believed that the first two phases of the Old Palace of Phaistos constitute the oldest Palatial buildings in Crete. Finds at the site, apart from the Phaistos Disc, include thousands of seal impressions and some tablets containing the Linear A script from Middle Minoan II.

When the Old Palace was finally destroyed, almost certainly by an earthquake, a new palace was built on the site. Fortunately for us, the builders of the new palace did not destroy almost all traces of the old as they did at other sites. In fact much of the old palace was covered over at the time of the building of the new palace in order to level the ground. Some of the old palace can still be seen by visitors, especially the original West Facade and in the north-east corner, where the Phaistos disc was discovered. However, the remains of the West Wing of the Old Palace on the lower terrace are closed to the public. (But see link to photos of this area at the bottom of the page). In recent years Italian archaeologists have been taking a closer look at the Old Palace which should provide us with more information about this period of Minoan Crete at Phaistos.

The New Palace

It is very easy to get the impression that at the beginning of the Protopalatial period the Minoans built a number of palaces which continued unchanged for two hundred years and were then suddenly destroyed and immediately replaced by the New Palaces. But the history of the palaces is far more complex than that. We have already seen that the Old Palace at Phaistos suffered so much from earthquake damage that distinct rebuilding phases during its 200-year history are visible to archaeologists.

The New Palace is no more straightforward than the Old Palace. One of the excavators, F. Carinci, believes that although an attempt was made to rebuild the Palace at the beginning of the Neopalatial period in MM III, these efforts ground to a halt and that during the period MM IIIB-LM IA, the Palace was effectively abandoned. According to Carinci, construction of the New Palace did not finally begin until well into LM IA, possibly after the Thera eruption and that the New Palace was not completed until LM IB, right at the end of the Neopalatial period.

The New Palace covers a smaller area than the old. However, excavators were surprised by the lack of finds that one would expect at a Minoan Palace. No frescoes have been found in the New Palace and there is a complete absence of sealings and tablets. One view suggests that in the New Palace period the importance of Phaistos decreased while that of Agia Triada nearby continued to grow and that the two settlements complemented each other in some way.

A tour of the site

The site is entered at the level of the Upper West Court, which was used by both the old and the new palace. The Upper West Court is joined to the Lower West Court by a staircase which was built at the time of the upper court and was in use at the time of the Old Palace.

At the north end of the Lower West Court is a very high wall and in front of this wall is the theatral area (see photo above). There are nine steps where spectators either sat or stood to watch religious rites, ceremonies or whatever else took place there. Unlike the theatral area at Knossos which looks towards the Royal Road, the theatral area at Phaistos looks down onto the West Court. The West Court itself has raised walkways leading across it, one of which leads from the theatral area to the main entrance to the Old Palace.

Phaistos: The Magnificent Staircase
The Magnificent Staircase

The West Court and the theatral area date from the Old Palace period and after the destruction of the Old Palace at the end of MM IIB the west court was covered over to a depth of 1.3 metres as part of the reconstruction. Consequently the raised walkways disappeared and they were not replaced at the new, raised level. Moreover, only four steps remained of the nine rows of steps that were created in the Old Palace period. The west facade of the New Palace was located seven metres further east than the facade of the old palace. By covering the remains of the old West Facade, the size of the West Court was greatly increased. It has been suggested by Preziosi that the Grand Staircase from the Second Palace period was not an entrance to the palace at all, but a new theatral area. Palyvou rejects this interpretation on the grounds that the wings of the Palace on either side of the staircase would have obstructed the view of anyone seated on the staircase. Just how much the spectators’ view would have been restricted is contested, but even if the steps were used as a theatral area, this does not necessarily exclude their use as an entrance to the palace as well. The theatral steps at Knossos were almost certainly used for access to the area north of the Palace behind them.

Phaistos: The Monumental Propylaia
The Monumental Propylaia

The Palace of Phaistos, like all the other palaces except for Zakros, is oriented north-south. It is commonly accepted that the main entrance to the New Palace was from the West Court, up the dozen steps of the 14 metre wide Magnificent Staircase, at the top of which is an equally wide landing, behind which stood the Monumental Propylaia. This structure is the forerunner of the Propylaia of Classical Greek times.

Between the landing and the actual entrance itself, were two porticos. Hutchinson points out that if the West entrance to palaces was direct, then it was small, but if it was indirect then it was grand. Here, the main entrance does not lead directly into the Central Court and is very grand. It is, nonetheless, unusual for the main entrance to a palace to be in the west. Although there is a west entrance into the palace of Knossos, the main entrance was thought to be from the south.

Phaistos: The storage magazines
The Magazines where olive oil, wine
and wheat were stored

To the south of the Propylaia are to be found the Palace magazines or storage area. As at other Minoan palaces, including Knossos, the ground floor of the west wing was the main storage area. At Phaistos, the magazine consisted of ten rooms, five on each side, opening onto an east-west corridor, which at its east end opened out into a two-columned hall with a portico facing the Central Court. One storage room remains intact with a number of pithoi inside (see photo above).

South of the storage magazines was another, direct entrance into the Central Court (corridor 7). This corridor was originally sealed by two sets of double doors, one at the east end of the corridor and one at the west. Corridor 12 turned south from corridor seven into the heart of the south west wing of the Palace. Room 31 of the storage magazine block, on the north side of corridor 7 had a window, through which goods could presumably have been passed.

Hitchcock suggests that there may have been a south entrance to Phaistos like the Corridor of the Processions at Knossos. Unfortunately in this part of the south wing, only foundations survive. But there is a corridor shaped area (97) which leads towards the south end of the Central Court.

Phaistos: The Central Court
The Central Court

The Central Court lies to the east of the magazines. It measured 55 metres by 25 metres. The South East part of the Central Court is now missing. Given the large number of corridors which lead to the Central Court, it must have been central to the life of the Palace itself. It was lined on two sides by porticos with alternating columns and pillars.

The north-east wing of the palace is considered to have consisted of artisans’ workshops and the remains of a furnace for smelting metal can still be seen in the courtyard. The south-east wing collapsed some time in the past and the hill has eroded to beyond the point where it would have stood.

Phaistos: room with benches on west side of central court
First room (23) with benches on west
side of Central Court

Much of the West wing of the central court, south of the magazines, was used for religious purposes. It contained a number of rooms which opened directly onto the Central Court. Just south of the corridor of the magazines, in the West Wing, there are two pairs of rooms (8 and 9, 10 and 11) which Gessell calls the West Bench Sanctuary complex. In her view rooms 8 and 9 are respectively a preparation room and storeroom, while room 10 is a bench sanctuary and room 11 is a storeroom. Finds in rooms 8 and 9 include vases, conical cups and possible mortars or offering tables. In rooms 10 and 11, in addition to vases, storage jars and conical cups, there were also found a libation table, a female figurine and fragments of other figurines.

To the south of this group of rooms in the West Stoa facing directly onto the west court there are two rooms with benches lining the north and west walls (rooms 23 and 24) In room 24 the bench also lines the north east wall of the room. These benches were covered with gypsum, a material used extensively at Phaistos. Both these rooms open directly onto the west court. In room 23 there is a central pillar while in room 24 a low table is located in the centre of the room. While at first glance both rooms appear similar there are some differences. The entrance to room 23 is wider than entrance 24 which means anyone sitting there would have had a better view of the central court. Room 23 was without doors so access to the room could not be barred, while room 24 could be closed by a door. The differences between the two rooms suggest that they had different uses. Although it is hard to say what those uses may have been, clearly a room with no door would have been a much more public area than a room that could be closed off. Hitchcock suggests that the people sitting in room 23 were not only there to watch what was going on in the central court but were also there to be seen. She feels that members of some sort of council may have used the room.

Phaistos: second room with benches
Second room (24) with benches on West
side of the Central Court

Gesell suggests that room 24 may have been a bench sanctuary since she interprets the object in the centre of the room as an offering table. Certainly the benches lining the north and west walls imply some sort of ceremony taking place in the room. Hitchcock suggests that the benches may have been occupied by high status people before whom others entered the room and placed offerings or poured libations on the small table.

Further south there is a pillar crypt (room 22) similar to those found at other Palaces and also in the remains of the old palace at Phaistos, but this one is on a rather more modest scale than, for example, the one at Malia.

Trees and pillars seem to have been worshipped by the Minoans and more than 25 pillar crypts have been located at Minoan sites. Questions have been raised as to whether the pillars really were objects of devotion for the Minoans, but it is certain that in many of the small pillar crypts the pillars would not have been necessary to support the roof. An alternative explanation therefore has to be sought and there is evidence of pillar worship from other sources.

Phaistos: Pillar Crypt
Pillar Crypt (room 22)

The area also contained two lustral basins. Cult vases and figurines were found in this part of the West Wing, and the shapes of double axes were incised on the stone, all adding to evidence of a religious use for the building. The conventional view is that whereas the West Wing of the palaces was used for religious and administrative purposes, the East Wing contained the domestic apartments of the royal family.

However, a lustral basin was originally situated in the East Wing and if the purpose of the lustral basin was religious rather than hygenic, that would tell against the theory that the East Wing comprised domestic quarters.

At Phaistos, the so-called Royal Apartments are in fact in the north part of the Palace, to the East of the Monumental Propylaia. The smaller “Queen’s Megaron” lies to the south of the larger “King’s Megaron”. These rooms would have had light wells, porticos and pier-and-door partitions which would have enabled sections of the room to be closed off. The lower walls and floors were lined with slabs of alabaster (gypsum). To the west of the King’s room is possibly the best-preserved Lustral Basin in Crete.

A more intimate experience than Knossos

Phaistos: The Queen's Megaron
The “Queen’s Megaron”

On the slopes of the hill to the south of Phaistos and on level ground below the hill stood the Minoan town. This is still being excavated though part of it can be seen below from the perimeter of the Palace site.

There are many reasons why a visitor to Crete should make the effort to visit Phaistos. With the Messara plain to the east and the Ida mountain to the north, Phaistos has the most beautiful setting of any of the Minoan Palaces.

Another major advantage is the fact that it does not get quite so crowded as Knossos and even in the summer it is possible to have the site almost to oneself provided one arrives at opening time or alternatively an hour or two before closing time. Finally, it is a much more intimate site than Knossos where walkways of scaffolding scar the Palace and so much of Knossos has been roped off, preventing access to visitors, who must look from a distance. At Phaistos, everything can be seen easily and close up.

No doubt these measures were necessary to protect the Palace of Knossos from the hundreds of thousands of tourists who swarm all over the site from April to October each year. Similar measures may one day be necessary at Phaistos. Until then, an early morning or early evening visit will allow you to wander round the site in a way that simply isn’t possible at Knossos and to break off from looking at the ruins to view some of the most spectacular scenery that Crete has to offer.

Phaistos: The King's Megaron from the east
The “King’s Megaron” from the East

Phaistos: The King's Megaron
The “King’s Megaron”

Phaistos: The King's Megaron
The “king’s Megaron”

Phaistos: Lustral Basin
Lustral basin behind the “King’s Megaron”

Gortys, also known as Gortyn or Gortyna is one of the most important cities in Crete with an unbroken history of 6,000 years and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece. It lies in south central Crete in the fertile Mesara plain, the site of the first human habitation of Crete at the end of the Neolithic period (5th millennium BC).

Gortys is about 40 minutes drive south of Heraklion, on the same road that will take us to Phaistos and Matala. Gortys is about 1 km past the village of Agii Deka, at the side of the main road.


The name Gortys or Gortyna

According to one tradition, Gortys was named after its founder Gortys, the son of Radamanthys, king of Phaistos and brother of Minos.

Another story is that it was founded by Gortys from Tegea in Arcadian Gortynia.

A third variation on the same myth has Gortys founded by Queen Gortyna of Crete, mother of King Taurus.

Excavations at Gortys

excavations at Gortys

Gortys was one of the first areas of Crete to attract the attention of researchers and archaeologists as early as the period of Turkish occupation in the late 19th century, when Minoan civilisation was still a matter of conjecture and myth.

In 1884 the discovery and preservation of the Great Inscription by Iosif Hatzidakis, Stefanos Xanthoudides and Italian Federico Halbherr led to excavations in the Gortys area. Excavations were undertaken by the Italian Archaeological Mission in collaboration with the Archaeological Service after Crete became an autonomous state in 1898, and lasted until 1940.

Excavations in the wider area of Gortys brought important buildings and finds to light, although a large part of the Roman city still remains unexplored today. The most important finds are displayed in Heraklion Archaeological Museum, while some will be housed in the Mesara Archaeological Museum once this is built in a few years time.

History of Gortys

goertys180x130The area has been inhabited since the end of the Neolithic period. Habitation continued in Minoan times, a fact proven by the Minoan country villa found in the Kannia area near Mitropolis village, not far from Gortys.

From the middle of the 1st millennium BC, Gortys replaced Phaistos as the chief power in the Mesara, centred around the fortified acropolis with the temple of Athena Poliouchos (Protector of the City).

After the Roman conquest of Crete in 67 BC, Gortys, which was well disposed towards Rome, became capital of Crete, replacing Knossos. Gortys was declared the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica, a position it held until the Arab conquest of Crete in 828 AD.

Gortys reached the peak of its power in the 2nd century AD, while its final period of glory was in the early Christian period (until the 7th century AD).

It is believed that Gortys expanded across a wide area and had a large population. It may have been built using stone from the nearby Roman quarry in the village of Ambelouzos, known in Crete as the Labyrinth of Mesara.

In 796 AD the city was hit by an earthquake which almost destroyed it. After the Andalusian Arabs conquered Crete in 828 AD, the capital was transferred to Chandax, modern-day Heraklion.

Gortys archaeological site

gortys-4-180x130Usually a visit to Gortys is limited to the archaeological site open to the public: the church of St Titus, the Odeon and the famous Plane Tree. But how representative is the picture the visitor gains of the grandeur of this city, once the capital of Crete?

The city of Gortys extended across a wide area, but unfortunately only a small part of it has been excavated. What the uninformed (and guided) visitor sees is only the tip of the iceberg.

Stand at the entrance to the archaeological site and look across the road. You will see some blue signs which are usually ignored, but those curious enough to follow them will be amazed at what they see.

In the next few pages we will take you on a virtual tour of the whole archaeological site of Gortys. We will visit the church of St Titus, the Odeon, the room of the Law Code of Gortys and of course the plane tree of Zeus and Europa.

When we finish our tour of this area, well cross the road to Phaistos and walk along the road to Mitropolis. A little further on we will admire the largest Early Christian church in Crete, whose splendour is still evident in spite of its ruined state.

Then, following the path through the olive trees, we will reach the heart of Roman Gortys, the Praetorium, the seat of the Roman Governor of Crete. The Praetorium is huge and obviously luxurious building. Unfortunately none of these areas is open to the public, but youll be impressed even gazing at them through the wire fencing and enjoy every moment of your visit.


 After 25 years, Kissamos in western Crete has finally found a place to house its archaeological treasures. The Kissamos Archaeological Museum is housed in the town’s Venetian Residence.

archaeological museum of kissamos

The exhibits provide a view of local history through the ages, from prehistoric times to late antiquity and the Early Christian period.

The exhibition starts in Room 1 on the ground floor, with a general chronological table and map of local archaeological sites represented by the artefacts. This is followed by a presentation of the Minoan Period with finds from ancient Mithymna.

Room 2 opens with the Geometric Period, focussing on the historical development of the most important city-states in the area, Polyrrhenia and Falassarna. These two cities flourished in the Hellenistic Period, the former as a land and the latter as a sea power. Room 3 continues the presentation of Hellenistic times, with ceramic finds from dependent towns and settlements of the region.

The whole of the first floor is devoted to the town of Kissamos. The mosaic floors and marble statues of the Greco-Roman city are preserved in the museum.

Room 4, the largest in the museum, contains mosaic floors, wall paintings, a sundial, reliefs and statues from Greco-Roman Kissamos. Room 5 houses ancient coins and amphoras, while Room 6 contains clay, metal, bone and ceramic objects. The grave goods are displayed in the final room, where there are Christian tomb inscriptions, jewellery and other materials, a female figure of the 4th century BC and grave goods from the Roman Period.

Places to visit #Crete#

ag-nik1Knosasgramvousa 7mat3san6spinalonga_ecrete_510_2

Crete the pearl of Greece. It’s not just Greece’s largest island. Arguably it has a great nature and a rich historical and cultural heritage. Its remarkable history is obvious across the island. From the archaeological findings of the Minoan Knossos Palace and Festos to the Venetian entrenchments of Rethymno. The Byzantine monasteries and the old mosques built by the Ottomans. The cave that Zeus was born. Chania in the western Crete and Heraklion which is the capital are well known not only for being the most important port cities, but also for their numerous scenic beauties.

Gramvousa programarethimnonkournasHeraklionaschrissi salasan11

Superb mountains and gorges like Samaria Gorge. Beaches with soft golden sands like Chrissi Island can offer you unique excursion experience. Besides, Balos beach which is turtle protection area especially for Caretta Caretta, has incredible clean waters with wild majestic landscape.

Joining an excursion is the most reliable way to explore the most popular tourist areas

NOTE: We do not organize and do not offer any tours in CHANIA AREA!!!

What to visit? What to see?


samaria-6-560x300No visit, no vacation to Crete is complete without crossing the Samaria Gorge. Join Samaria Gorge Excursion and explore the most majestic gorge…LEARN MORE


spinalonga_Ecrete_510_2The idyllic scenery of Crete’s Northeast coast Driving along the North East coast through the gorge of St George we reach the picturesque…LEARN MORE


knosos-560x300Knossos Palace, Lasithi Plateau Excursion (half day tour) It is impossible for someone to come to Crete on vacation and not visit its landmark…LEARN MORE


grambousa-balos-560x300An exquisite excursion for the most “conscious” travelers is the excursion to Balos Beach and Gramvousa Island. Driving once again to… LEARN MORE



In the heart of the central part of Crete in the massif of Idi is located astronomical observatory, on the top Skinakas at an altitude of 1750m.

The idea for its construction was born in 1984. This was a joint initiative of the University of Crete, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH) and the German Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische. These organizations work together to provide students with modern education in the field of astronomy.

Open days at the observatory
Every year, are appointed five days, during which you can come here and go into the observatory. These events attract nearly 1,000 people each year. Also for this year already set a specific date when you will come to Skinakas to be able to observe the sky through a telescope and see the latest developments in this field.
Open days in 2016 is scheduled for:

May 22 (Sunday),
June 12 (Sunday)
July 24 (Sunday)
August 21 (Sunday)
September 11 (Sunday)

These terms, however, can be changed when the weather is not good. A few days before the event on the website of observatory will confirm exact days.
The Observatory also reserves the possibility to establish additional terms of open days. During the open days observatory can be visited in the hours of 17.00-23.00. Because of the low temperatures prevailing at the height at which it is located Skinakas, guests should take warmer clothes. Due to the very limited number of seats and a large number of visitors often You have to spend at least an hour in a queue. It should also remember that there is lack of public toilets and food and drink.

How to get from the city of Heraklion to Skinakas

  Skinakas Observatory is located in the middle of Crete. Approximately about 50 kilometers west of Heraklion. To get to there in the first place You  need to go to the village of Anogia. Skinakas is away from Anogii another 20 kilometers. The narrow road guiding to the observatory is just getting to the plateau of Nida.