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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Heraklion, Crete

With its rugged snow-capped mountains fringed by beaches and harbors, Crete was site of the first urban culture in Europe and the mythological home of Zeus. Minoans settled here on the largest of the Greek islands in the 3rd millennium BC and their legacy of art and architecture strongly influenced the rest of Greece. Strategically placed to control the rest of the Aegean, Crete is a very fertile land with abundant rainfall and is a major supplier of produce to Greece.

Diversions

A short walk from the pier will bring you to the old town. Once the Venetian capital of Crete, massive 16th and 17th century city walls surround it. The city’s main attractions are the rebuilt Knossos Palace, considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time, and the superb Archaeological Museum where the best of the Knossos frescoes are housed. The partially reconstructed palace offers a glimpse into the cultural life of the prehistoric Minoans. Highlights include the Propylaea with wall frescoes, the Alabaster throne in the Throne Room, the Royal Apartments with a sophisticated ventilation system for comfort, the Grand Staircase, and “indoor” plumbing.

Exploring the other regions of Crete you’ll find tranquil panoramas and more glimpses into antiquity. The Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint George Selinaris is a romantic setting that attracts residents for weddings. Neighboring islands dot Elounda Bay and provide a picture-postcard scene. Agios Nikloaos, the most popular island resort, is also known as the “Saint Tropez” of Crete.

Shopping

In Heraklion, souvenirs tend to be inexpensive reproductions of Minoan artifacts. Unique items, these are things you won't likely see elsewhere in Greece. The ceramic likenesses of the faience snake goddess found at Knossos are supposedly authentic reproductions.

Agios Nikolaos has a number of quaint shops near the picturesque harbor and cafés are actually located on some of the boats. 

Beaches

There is a fair sand beach east of Heraklion at Amnissos. Although Agios Nikolaos is a popular tourist area, the nearby beaches are overcrowded and poor. The best are to the north at Elounda and along the Sitia road at Ammoudi and Almyros.


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