After an overnight ferry from mainland Greece to the island of Crete, we docked bright and early on Sunday morning in Heraklion. Our first stop (after breakfast at the hotel) was the Archaeological Museum at Heraklion. We saw lots of findings from digs on Crete (including from the palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, both sites that we would visit) and learned about the Minoan civilization that we would be encountering over our next two days in Crete. Highlights included the Phaistos Disc and the Snake Goddesses:
After some time off to check into our rooms and grab some lunch, we boarded our bus (as always, with our fearless guides Mitch and Ilias, as well as our amazing driver, Pavlos) and headed to the Palace at Knossos, which is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. Knossos, which was primarily excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in the early twentieth century, has been partially reconstructed. Some of us were fans of this technique, and others less so. Regardless, it was still amazing to see such an expansive palace complex, and to get a glimpse into what a Minoan city center (might have) looked like. We saw the Lustral Basin, the place where the Snake Goddesses were found, many magazines and pithoi, and some interesting reconstructions of murals.
The next day we headed to Phaistos, another Bronze Age settlement and center of Minoan civilization, as well as the smaller sites of Gortyna and Agia Triada. At Gortyna we stopped to read some Ovid in front of the plane tree where the myth that Ovid describes supposedly took place.
At Phaistos we were able to see the place where the Phaistos Disc was recovered and had some spectacular views of the Cretan countryside and mountains. We stopped to talk about the differences between our experiences at different Minoan palace complexes as well as the palace that we visited at Mycenae.
The next day we were able to explore two more seaside towns in Crete, Rethymno and Chania, before departing on our ferry back to Athens for the last leg of our trip! Today in Athens we saw many relics from Mycenae, and lots of other sculpture and pottery. Tomorrow we will head to the Athenian Agora and Cape Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon before heading to bed early in preparation for our day of travel on Friday.