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As you wander around Crete (and Greece for that matter), you’ll no doubt come across tales of the ancient Gods, their duties, lives, and origins. Considered the most important Greek god, Zeus was the god of the sky, thunder, and the king of all other gods and men. It’s in Diktaion Cave that this famous god was brought forth for all humanity. Legends aside, the Diktaion Cave is considered one of the best of the 4,500 caves and sinkholes found throughout Crete. Its cool environs are a pleasant escape from the sun and heat of the Crete. You’ll pass through five antechambers as you make your way down deep into the earth. At the bottom of the cave is a glass-calm lake surrounded by immense stalactites and stalagmites. Across the lake in a small chamber is the area where Zeus was apparently born. Diktaion Cave is located up on the Lasithi plateau, an area quite unlike the rest of Crete. This high area is mostly flat and is the breadbasket of the island, with orchards and extensive farms. Stop in a small village and grab a lunch consisting of the fresh, local produce capped off with a cold beverage.
The Minoan Palace of Phaistos: If you don’t fancy doing battle with the crowds at Knossos Palace, this fabulous, but much less crowded, site is a must-see. It’s in the south of Heraklion, on the Messara Plain near Matala Beach. It is believed that the brother of King Minos, Rhadamanthus, built the palace for his own pleasure. The Phaistos Disc was found here, and those with puzzle-solving brains may want to take a careful look at the characters inscribed on it, which remain undeciphered. Heading to Chania? You’ll undoubtedly end up heading to the pink-sand beaches of Elafonisi on the southwest coast. But before you run splashing into the sea, stop in to Chrisoskalitissa Monastery (bring a scarf to cover your shoulders). This important religious and historical site was built to venerate the Virgin Mary. The name means “golden step” and refers to the belief that one of the steps leading to the monastery was made of gold, but only those without sin could see it.
The old town of Rethymnon (or Rethimno) is located in the midst of the modern city and features a rather unique blend of Venetian and Crete architecture. Rethymnon was established in 1204, after the Venetians had conquered Crete, so most of the remaining buildings in the old town area are of Venetian creation. The Old Town’s narrow streets and its small Venetian harbor are wonderful for walking, shopping, enjoying dinner at a small tavern and taking in Rethymnon’s remarkable architecture. Travelers will want to check out the nearby Fortezza Castle, which was built in 1590, and sits on a low hill in the middle of Rethymnon.
For dramatic scenery, head to the remote south coast. Here, you’ll find Matala, a lovely small town with a fantastic stretch of beach, lined at one end by caves. Preveli beach, set at the end of a gorge and backed by huge cliffs, yet still accessibly via a short hike, is another top attraction on this side of the island. On the north coast, you may also want to set your sights on beaches around Agios Nikolaos, on picturesque Mirabello Bay. One of the top choices here is Voulisma beach, but if you have time to explore a little further afield, Vai Beach, also known as Palm Beach, is one of the top beaches on Crete. Knossos is the most important archeological site on Crete. A pre-Greek Bronze Age culture and the first maritime power in the Mediterranean, the Minoans were named after the legendary King Minos. Knossos, near the city of Heraklion, is believed to have been the palace of King Minos. Read additional details on https://www.chaniacar.com/.