Palace of Knossos, Rethymnon – Crete (day 5)

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According to tradition Knossos was the seat of the wise King Minos and is connected to legends such as the myth of the Labryinth with the Minotaur.  The palace was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the 5th century AD.  Today I was to see Knossos…

The early morning was so peaceful at Talo Square and I sat overlooking the sea as I waited for the bus.  Though it was not a bus that picked me up, instead a young man in a very small car came to take me to the waiting bus in town.  We then set off for a much more relaxing drive this time, passing green countryside on one side and the blue coastline on the other.  The mountains provided a lovely backdrop in the distance.  The bus was about half full making for a more pleasant tour with a nice group of people.  Our tour guide, a dark skinned Cretan woman, joined us a bit later and spoke of the history and myths of Knossos.  The Minoans, the Cretans, the Turks, even Muslims, lived here for a time.  No wonder I felt like Crete was similar to Turkey!  One similarity in particular is that all the food waiters are men.

A quick stop for a fresh orange juice (which is a daily ritual now), and it did not seem long before we were at the palace of Knossos which is located just outside the capital city of Heraklion.  The ground layout of the palace remains (the upper part was destroyed by a fire) and copies of some of the upper buildings have been made.  Frescoes and pictures, tall round burgundy coloured columns and fake wooden door and window frames show what the palace would have looked like.  A miniature replica of the whole palace that is in the Heraklion Archaeological Musem made more sense as it was hard to understand our guide sometimes.

The museum is very well laid out with excellent displays as you can see in the photos above.   A couple of interesting facts – the Cretan women wore their breasts on display (outside of their dress) as a sign of fertility, and Bulls were fought with, played with and then sacrificed to the gods in large rectangular pots.  The baths above are sit baths, and in the middle is a game like droughts.

A quick bite to eat and a short walk around Heraklion then it was time to head to Rethymnon for an hour’s visit.  Rethymnon is similar to Chania in that it is an old walled town.  Heraklion on the other hand got severely bombed during the war and as a consequence most of the city was rebuilt using a modern style.

Most of us were snoozing in the bus on the return trip as it was so warm again today.  Back in Chania it was a gorgeous evening, and I was kept cool by the shade of old trees in the back alleyways as I ate stewed fish and veges.  A strawberry juice was refreshing too and I highly recommend it!  Local musicians played lovely traditional music and the atmosphere was idyllic.

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