Explore the ancient civilization of Minoan Crete with a tour of Knossos palace; discover the unique Fortezza and the magical city of Rethymno.Book Now
This tour will take you on a journey through time and immerse you in the rich cultural heritage that Heraklion and Rethymno have to offer. Knossos was known to be the heart of Minoan civilization, according to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary King Minos and the birthplace of the myths surrounding this incredible site.
The city of Knossos flourished more than two-thousand years ago through its strong maritime trade and overland commerce with the other great cities of Crete in the Minoan Era. The city was built and destroyed many times through-out its history, but the palace of Knossos is the greatest testimony, as it still stands today with the help of Sir Arthur Evans and his conservation work. The mighty palace of Knossos is what we see today within this magnificent historical site and it’s here where we begin our tour. Walk around this breath-taking site and go on a journey through time within the incredible buildings of the palace as well as the surrounding settlements. If you prefer a guided tour for a more in-depth history, this can be arranged on arrival.
After spending around 2 hours at Knossos Palace we will continue on our tour to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion which is the oldest and considered one of the most important museums in Greece. It houses many artefacts from all periods of Cretan history, covering over 5,500 years. Some of the oldest pieces date back to the Neolithic Period but pride of place is given to the treasures of the Minoan Civilisation and detailed accounts of what historians believed to have happened to the city through-out time.
Continuing on your tour we will take you to the city of Rethymno where we will see the majestic fortress (Fortezza). This incredible fortress dates back to the 16th Century and has seen a turbulent struggle for survival through-out the Ottoman period. Take a stroll around the fortress and see the incredible walls that have stood the test of time.
Alternatively, you can take a stroll around the magical city of Rethymno. As Crete’s third largest city, Rethymno has a very beautiful Venetian Harbour and anyone who visits in enchanted by its picturesque streets and modern flare. The Venetian Harbour is a beautiful place to finish your evening to take a stroll or a meal in the early evening sun.
Your Hotel/ Accomodation
Between 8:00 am to 9:00 am
Approximately 6:00 pm
Knossos is thought to be one of the oldest centres of civilisation in Europe and was once home to the most powerful ruler of the Minoan Civilisation, King Minos. It is believed that this city dates back to as early as the Neolithic Period (7th-4th Millennium BC) and that the palace of Knossos has played a major role in the changing leadership through-out time including the Mycenaeans and the Roman era.
The palace of Knossos is believed to have been built, destroyed and rebuilt at least twice within its lifetime. The first palace is estimated to have been built between the 19th-17th Century BC. The second version of the palace (16th-14th Century BC) is believed to have been constructed in much the same way as the first, with the addition of labyrinth style corridors and storage rooms. This is where the Legend of the Minotaur comes from surrounding Knossos Palace. Around the 17th Century BC it is believed that the entire city of Knossos was extensively developed and it has been estimated that the population was around 80,000 inhabitants.
In 1450BC, after the partial destruction of Knossos, the Mycenaeans settled within the city but did not rebuild the palace. In 67 BC the city of Knossos was conquered by the Romans and Knossos Palace was named the “Mansion of Dionysus”. The magnificent mosaics you see today, belong to this period. Shortly after the Byzantine times, the port of Heraklion gained more importance for shipping and trade while the palace and the city of Knossos was slowly forgotten and was re-discovered in 1900 by a British Scholar, Arthur Evans. Since the 1900s much of the site of Knossos has been excavated and its this that can be seen today.
Discover this incredible site by exploring it for yourself or choose to walk around with a tour guide, many of which are available for a fee at the main gate. Should you choose to have a tour guide as you walk this incredible site, it is sure to enhance your knowledge and understanding of this magnificent city. To walk all of the wonders of this site, it will take you around 2 hours and is sure to submerge you within the abundant history of this undeniable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the oldest and considered to be one of most important museums in Greece. It is also considered to be one of the most famous museums in all of Europe. It houses many precious artefacts from all periods of Cretan history and prehistory, covering over 5,500 years starting from the Neolithic period to Roman times.
This multi-storey building is known to house the most notable and complete collection of artefacts of the Minoan civilisation in Crete. In 1883, the first archaeological collection of the city was established with a small collection and was backed by private donations. After the excavations from Arthur Evans began in 1900, the artefacts from Knossos and the surrounding area were entrusted to the First Keepers of Antiquities and thus enriched the collection the museum has today.
The museum prides itself on its vast collection of Minoan art but also in telling the story of the Minoan civilisation here in Crete. It houses artefacts from many sites across Crete including; Knossos; Phaestos; Zakros; and Malia. Within the museum today there are many artefacts which tell the story of this once great civilisation. Jewellery, Statues, pottery and everyday items can be found in every part of this museum, bringing to life this long forgotten way of life.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is most famous for its impressive collection of Minoan artefacts. The Snake-Goddess; The Prince of Lilies and Bull-Leaping Frescos; The Gold Bee Pendant; The Agia Triada Sarcophagus; Phaistos Discs; and Linear B (ancient Cretan language) tablets. All of these impressive artefacts can be seen within the Museum of Heraklion among many other private collections.
Fortezza is one of the largest fortresses and most impressive structures dating back to the Venetian Era. Sitting majestically on the hill above the city of Rethymno, this fortress has a long history of protecting its people and has been added to over the many years since it was first constructed.
The construction of the fortress we see today began in 1573 and was completed by 1580, with a total of 107,142 Cretans involved in creating this masterpiece. The Fortezza sits on the hill of Palekastro and was built on the site of existing Castles (Castrum Rethemi and Antico Castello).
In 1646 Rethymno came under attack from the Ottoman Empire and so the entire city took refuge within the walls of the Fortezza. Due to lack of food, ammunition and disease, the city was forced to surrender 2 months later and the fortress became under the control of the Ottomans.
Inside the fort there are various buildings including a hospital; armoury; civil buildings; churches; storage rooms and buildings for the governor of the city. Over its turbulent history, the Fortezza has seen little changes expect its Catholic Church was turned into a mosque and other outbuildings were constructed within its walls.
Today the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno is housed in the Ottoman ravelin that stands at the Main Gate of this impressive fort.
Rethymno has a long and rich history like most cities on the island of Crete. During the Venetian Period, Rethymno became the commercial station between Heraklion and Chania and so the city grew due to its wealth and trade links.
During the Venetian Era the great stone harbour was built and so too was the Fortezza that dominates the landscape of the hill above the city. Over the last 20 years Rethymno has seen many renovations and modifications which have added to its’ modern flare and feel.
Wander through its narrow streets or sit to enjoy the view of the picturesque harbour, whilst being surrounded by it’s rich cultural heritage. Rethymno is a city that is both old and new, but has been preserved to capture the individuality of its people over its many centuries. Rethymno is known to be one of the best representations of Cretan Renaissance, as most nobles during the Venetian Era were Greeks. This meant the balance of Veneto-Cretan beauty could be finely tuned and has stood the test of time.
Price per group (1-3): 310
Price per group (4-6): 350
Price per group (7-9): 380
Entrance fee to Knossos and archaeological museum 15€ for adults, over 65 years old 8€ and children till 18 years old free-Skip the queue and let us arrange your ticket in advance
Upon request, we can arrange your lunch break for you and suggest a traditional “taverna” nearby, in order to experience the traditional Cretan cuisine
Upon request, changes to the itinerary may be made providing mileage and time limits are not exceeded.