After a lunch and afternoon in Rethymno, we reunited with Sujay and Kelly who had done some of their own exploring of the Greek islands before coming to Heraklion to visit the rest of Crete.
After settling into our lodgings at a second floor apartment called Venezian View, we began our walking tour at the southwest corner of the old city at St. Minas Cathedral:
Inside is a collection of impressive reliefs:
Walking northeast, we approached Morosini Fountain from the 1600s.
St. Mark’s Basilica faces the fountain.
There’s a free art gallery inside:
The Venetian Loggia, an opulent City Hall structure built back in the Venetian period boasting a beautiful atrium and hall for events, is right next door:
Then we walked up to the Church of Agios Titos, a 19th century mosque turned church.
Approaching the port to the north, we walked around the Dominican church of Saint Peter Monastery.
From the monastery we then weaved along the coast of the Venetian Port of Heraklion. The restored 16th century Koules or the Rocca a Mare Fortress is a Venetian castle located on the isthmus/peninsula past the port with splendid views of the Gulf of Heraklion:
We then turned back south where you can take a scenic walk on the elevated Venetian Walls of Heraklion built in the 1400s:
The next day after an earlier breakfast at Frankly’s Café we also reunited with Jay who at the last minute decided to rejoin us from our Yacht Week trip last week for Crete. From breakfast we then took our car south for a visit to Knossos Palace:
Rebuilt on the site of the most important and best known Minoan palace complex in Crete, the palace is located some about 5km south of Heraklion.
According to tradition, this site was the seat of the legendary Cretan king Minos aka where the Labyrinth and the Minotaur was possibly located as well as the story of Icarus.
This site has been continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times.
After an hour baking under the sun, we returned back to our car and shelled $7 extra to include a visit to the Archaelogical Museum of Heraklion back in the city and near our lodgings.
Afterwards we headed back for what we thought was a free afternoon, but ended up with a self-imposed mandatory request to visit an olive oil farm about a 20 minutes’ drive south from us at Kleanthi. For €10 they showed us around their grounds including olive trees ranging anywhere from a couple hundred to 3000 years old.
We then were shown inside where they wash, press, and extract the oil from all the olives.
After half an hour of the tour, we were then taken to their olive oil tasting, a kind of grand finale that taught us you can put olive oil on not just bread but anything: fruit, yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, you name it.
If they grow it, you can eat it.
We were so happy from the unexpected dinner we were wanted to leave a little bit of us behind on their wall:
And just as we were pulling away from the farm, we took a wrong turn that felt like a right one: catching this unbelievable Cretan sunset just in time.
- At time of posting in Heraklion, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 52% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: temperate hot, but that's a relative statement