Thursday, March 06, 2008



Crete, located in the Eastern Mediterranean, some 160 km south of mainland Greece, is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. It is roughly 260 km from east to west, 56 km at its widest point and 12 km at its narrowest section, with a coastline of 1046 km. Crete was the centre of Europe's most ancient Bronze Age civilization, named Minoan by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, after the mythic «king» Minos, which is associated in Greek mythology with the Labyrinth.

Though the first human settlement in Crete dates back to 7000 BC, the Minoan civilization flourished from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC, and left five main palace sites in Crete: Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Kato Zakros and Galatas.
Knossos is the largest of the preserved Minoan palaces, probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It was excavated, and somehow reconstructed by Arthur Evans, whose work was not without raising some criticism for the methods used in re-creating the Palace. Anyhow, from the tourist (not archaeological) point of view, the site is much more «understandable» than the regular ruins sites...

There are very limited written records of the Minoan, and many are written in the not yet deciphered script known as Linear A; so the knowledge of the Minoan society is very short. But what you can see on the site, and what you may find in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is surely of great interest.

"ROOM with a Minoan column. Contrary to most Greek columns, which are smaller at the top and wider at the bottom, the Minoan columns are smaller at the bottom and wider at the top"

"PITHOS - Large storage jars (made of ceramic and with this particular shape) that were used primarily for grains, seeds, wine, and oil"

"BULL-LEAPING - One of the most notable frescoes in Knossos is the bull-leaping, in which an athlete grasps the bull's horns and vaults over the animal's back. Whether a religious ritual or a sport is not known. Probably a mythological dance with the Great Bull"


"THRONE ROOM - This room has an alabaster seat supposed to be a «throne». I read at the Knossos Guide that the President of the International Court of Justice in the Hague seats in a replica of this throne, assuming that Minos was the first judge of History..."

"PRINCE OF LILIES - Probably a priest-king leading an unseen animal to sacrifice"

"SOUTH PROPILEUS - With re-painted frescoes"


"BULL FRESCO at the reconstructed North Entrance"


"PHAISTOS DISC - The most precious item at the Heraklion Museum, the Phaistos disc is one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. One may read why at Wikipedia"

"BULL - Horns used to drink"





"MUSEUM - The museum guide by Mr. Sakellarakis (former director of the Heraklion Museum) is an absolute must!"


Anonymous said...

Today we have a cultural break; however, some more blue will come back sooner! The advantages of spending the holidays in Greece... ;))

Shionge said...

You been to Greece too...awesome, I must visit one day too :D Very very very very nice Gil and we have to count the countries you did not visit instead kekekek..

Have a nice day :D

Anonymous said...

Gil, do you have "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" in Portugal?
With all the "stuff" you have learnt whilst traveling, you'd have to be a contender!!
Extraordinary colours in treasures so old and that christal rock looks amazing.
The upside down columns are upsetting my eye though!

Anonymous said...

Simply take us to a completely different level, so different from your other posts...viewing an entire civilization through your lens has really been very captivating...Great Work along with some really Stunning Shots!

Miss Kim said...

I love Crete! We have been there a couple of times but I have no idea where my photos have gone, so looking at yours was a nice trip down my failing memory lane. Thanks Gil!

Lakshmi said...

this is a place i must visit..greek gods have been one of my favourites im always fascinated with mythology, culture and history

Sigma said...

Wow! this place looks out of the world .... seeing such ruins, one cant help imagining how magnificent they must have been at the peak of their glory!
The paintings are amazing too.

Olivier said...

l'art est vraiment partout sur cette ile, superbe

JO said...

You are so privledge to have visited such a historical site... Enjoyed your post.

kuanyin333 said...

Beautiful photos! I've been there too many years ago and also have some wonderful photos...even went caving there to a cave that's supposedly a holy spot. Mahalo for your visit!

Ming the Merciless said...

Wow! I'm amazed at all the reddish burgundy colors in the ruins. I was expecting either sky blue like the classic Greek urns or mostly white like the sceneries of old Greek towns by the sea.

GMG, where have you NOT traveled to?

Lori said...

How amazing! And to think those frescoes and columns have been preserved all this time. What an incredible culture. I'm definitely adding Crete to the list of places to visit. (Especially after seeing the photos of the pool at your hotel!)

joey said...

Fabulous photos and history lesson. I shall return ;)

lyliane six said...

Je n'ai pas choisi les bonnes iles à visiter, il faut que je retourne visiter celles ci, ces vestiges et le musée, des merveilles!, j'adore les ruines, j'aurai tant voulu être archéologue!

Marie-Noyale said...

Que de richesses sur cette ile...
Des apres midi passees a l'ombre, a enrichir ses terminer la journee en se rafraississant dans sa piscine... un beau programme..loin de me deplaire!!
Bon WE a vous.

SusuPetal said...

I've been on mainland Greece, never on Crete. Must see!

lv2scpbk said...

Wonderful structures, photos and potery.

Nikon said...

Beautiful shots, Gil.
The museum looks great.
Thanks for your visit!

Lara said...

great history lesson!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I was traveling, so late entry here.
The place looks so amazing, the paintings & photos are awesomely colorful even after scanning. A must visit place. Right ?

Have a nice weekend.

Tinsie said...

Those Minoan frescoes are amazing! Great post, Gill!

virtual nexus said...

Great post - I did some Greek and Roman Civs in years past. The colours
are just stunning - think I'd enjoy painting some of it!

Ash said...

Hello Gil, thanks a lot for visiting me and for the kind comments. I am so glad to be back!!!

Wonderful images, as always!!!

Noushy Syah said...

Really nice pics.The ladies in blue and the bull-leaping look gr8!

Such a gr8 history and you present it nicely.Thanks for sharing.

Have a gr8 weekend to you.Take care.

Ash said...

Yes I'll be posting more pics of Swansea!

chanpheng said...

Great blog post, history and pictures!

CaBaCuRl said...

As always a great balance between pictures and a bit of information. The water is such a deep it really very clear and clean? Can you see for a long distance under water?

Oswegan said...

It looks like a wonderful place to visit. Some remarkable things to see.

alice said...

When I was a child, I was fascinated by these civilizations and knew many details about them, names of gods and so many stories and legends...I've visited some museums and ruins in Greece and Sicily and I'm sure I would enjoy this one so much!

Jo's-D-Eyes said...

Hey Gil,
So great this fantastic piece of Greece ,I loooooove sooooo much! Alos the warmt the pretty of the 'white' rocks/stones, the colours of the always blue sky, I've seen many island and the Knossos, yes musea's are a "must" but great to see all the art there...

Glad you posted this, Have a great warm journey, or weekend Gil, 'where-ever you are now"

For a change its raining in Holland,( normal for March) so good for the plants and flowers.

Hug from JoAnn (Holland)
Come and see my blog/photo's

Anonymous said...

I love archeology. The Minoans are fascinating. Your photos make me want to head to Crete right now! ;-)

Beautiful blue photos below.


Nihal said...

Hi Gil,
Work. Schedule. Planning. Meetings. Reporting.... finally I am able to be back my journal, thanks God it's Sunday:) I was reading those comments, all are certainly nice and touchy ones.. As far as yours, let me see now;)
Visiting Istanbul in february while snowing, as you did before, is not a good time planning b'cus spring-summer even autumn are the best for an enjoyable Istanbul voyage:) Yeap, you definitely have to get back in Ist'l:)
Hahahaaa... My contribution for Turkey's tourist development? So cool definition from you as ever Gil:)) Let's hope Turkish Ministry for Tourism and Culture awards me presenting a plaque;)
BTW, everyone is a self-contributor for his/her own country's tourism development, isn't it? Yes, everyone tries this and yes it does kind of help a bit or big scale:)
One exception that's of you;) You're the one who tries for the WORLD TOURISM development thru your great blog, Sir:)
In order to getting the best luck from bamboo, try for the southeast of your home. If you do that way, it works, believe me:)

Your article is great as ever Gil! As I'm an addicted to museums, al yours noted duly. Sooner or later I'll be there in Girit (Turkish) or Crete in eng., having the prints of yr travel memos in my portfolio:)

My Unfinished Life said...

i read about crete and greek civilisation as part of masters it's nice to see some actual pics of the place.....
reminds me of harrappan civilisation of indus valley..though they have lot of different things....but again lot of things are common too!!!!

Anonymous said...

First time in Greece was in 1975. The pictures are lousy and nobody comments on it, but the story is there… ;)

We have the «Millionaire» show here. Sometimes I see, sometimes I get them all right, except when it comes to recent music groups…
Those columns were also a surprise for me!

Thanks. A cultural break now and then…

Five years in Romania and now living in Albania, you’re quite close to Crete!

Greek Islands are superb and a beautiful place to spend your holidays.

You’re right. The model reconstruction of the palace is incredible…

C’est comme ça partout en Grèce, y compris en Crète… ;)


So you were in the Zeus Cave, at the Nida Plateau. Nice place to get inspired… ;)
Mahalo for taking your time to comment here!

It’s true that usually Greece comes with blue and white, but it seems that the Minoans were keen on that warm red!
As far as visited countries, I tell you: it’s not such a small world… ;)

Sometimes the advantage of being buried is that things are preserved… ;)
A couple of nights at the Blue Palace and you’ll never forget!

Thanks for your visit and comment! Look forward to seeing you back!

Pour une ex-future-archéologue Grèce est le pays à visiter et Crète a une belle série de locaux à voir! Le musée d’Héraklion est numéro deux après le musée d’Athènes…

Pas mal comme programme; mais il ne faut pas oublier qu’il y a aussi quelques plages très sympas à visiter…

Greek Islands are my hobby. Have to try the Turkish beaches though, because Nihal is making such a great publicity on them… ;))


Glad to see you here and commenting after your trip. Look forward to seeing your new pictures… You’re right: Crete is a must visit place!


Would love to see your paintings after the frescoes…

I’m sure most of us are so happy to see you back with your simple and stylish pictures, now from Wales, as well as with your comments! Look forward for Swansea…

Noushy Syah,
The ladies in blue look typically Greek and beautiful, but the bull leaping guy is astonishing…

Thanks! Laos! I’ll check how to put it on my list…

It’s blue, clear and clean. But there aren’t such beautiful corals as one may find in the Great Barrier… ;)

It is a remarkable place to see…

Tu sais, le premier «Que sais-je?» que j’ai acheté a été «La Mythologie Grecque»…

You’re right: all that art might be a bit confusing, but it’s a great experience!
Sorry for the rain. Spring will arrive also to Holland…

Now, it’s probably a bit cold, but you may try May and after… ;)

Glad that you had some time to get here. It’s always a great pleasure to read your comments on my posts…
OK, Istanbul, I’ll be back. Mid-March would probably still be a bit cold, wouldn’t it?...
About the Tourism plaque, I’ll do my best… ;) and when I retire (from travelling, I mean, if ever…) I’ll try to deal with Portugal. For the time being you have only Algarve and that’s already a treat… ;))
Southeast corner bamboo? Noted!
Wish you a great trip to Kriti. As my holidays are technically reduced to just a long week, probably I’ll be there once again… ;)

Shooting Star,
Harrapan civilization? Interesting! Actually it seems the Minoan and the Indus Valley civilizations were contemporary. I’ll check some more on that…

hpy said...

That's a museum I'm sure I would appreciate.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you would! It the second best in Greece, immediately after the fantastic Archaeological in Athens...