Crete -An Island of Interest
It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with Iraklion the biggest city in Crete, and the fifth in Greece, with a population in excess of 130,000.
The climate of Crete is probably the mildest in Europe.
The mountains that run across the island act as a barrier to the weather, often creating different conditions in northern and southern parts of Crete.
The highest peak in this area is Pahnes, at 2,452 meters above sea level.
Some of the most characteristic natural beauties of the Cretan scenery consist of the famous Cretan gorges which begin at the mountainous areas of the island and end to the sea.
The green gorges abound with rare species of flora and fauna which are protected by strict rules, as they are unique throughout Greece.
Among them, one can admire rare species of cypress-trees, platans, pine-trees and wildflowers.
The Venetians began construction of the city walls in 1462, which were completed more than a century later.
The walls were 4km in length, of a triangular shape and had seven bastions.
Centuries of events occur between this time and the turn of this last century, but Iraklion grew in size after the 1913 union with Greece.
However, its strategic location again made it a target for invading forces in 1941.
The German bombardment during the Battle of Crete caused a great amount of damage and after the war the city was extensively rebuilt.
After shopping in the old walled city, Richard and Carolyn, our traveling friends, and my wife and I, flagged a taxi who drove us to the famous Minoan Palace of Knossos located about 5-6 km south of the city.
Knossos was the most impressive and luxurious places built during Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC).
The excavations reveal the remains of a most progressive civilization of years past.
The Palace was built twice, every time even more beautiful.
It covered an area of 22,000 sq.
It had about 1400 rooms in the original palace and 300 people lived in them (the Royal family of Knossos and their servants).
The king was called Minos, son of Zeus.
In Knossos one can see 2 big paved courtyards, many storerooms, temples, private rooms and a theater.
Some parts of the Palace were 4-5 floors high.
Staircases with shallow alabaster steps led on the upper or underground floors.
It was really exciting to visit the Minoan Palace and admire the King's and the Queen's apartments with the lovely decoration of blue dolphins.
We also saw what is said to be the oldest throne in Europe: the alabaster-made throne of King Minos in the throne room.
There is not enough room to allow me to write about this unusual civilization but it is believed the European system has its roots there.
One thing for sure is that buildings of yesteryear grow old, crumble and the people that lived in such places are often forgotten in history.