HISTORY & TRADITION OF CRETE AROUND DAIOS COVE
A tiny island just across from the fishing village of Plaka at the northern tip of the Kolokytha Penninsula. Before becoming the last known leper colony in 1903, Spinalonga served as a fortress built by the Venetians in order to protect the Mirabello Bay. It has recently been catapulted into modern culture thanks to Victoria Hislop’s bestselling novel The Island and is currently a nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Minoan Palace of Knossos was the seat of ancient King Minos and served as the centre of the settlement of the first European civilization, the Minoans, during the Bronze Age. The ancient Greek legends of the Minotaur, the Labyrinth as well as Ikarus and Daedalus are supposed to have come alive in Knossos.
Also known as the home of the artistic Minoan civilization par excellence, the museum holds the most notable and complete collection of artefacts covering over 5000 years of Crete’s history. Artefacts include the Phaistos Disc with one of the most controversial inscriptions in the archaeological world as well as the Bull Games fresco. The museum sits on the site of the imposing Venetian Franciscan friary destroyed by an earthquake in 1856.
Toplou is one of the most significant monasteries on Crete dedicated to Panagia (the Virgin Mary). Having to defend itself from pirates and invaders through the centuries, Toplou monastery is heavily fortified with a courtyard paved with sea pebbles and surrounded by strong, 10m (33ft) high square walls. A calm, spiritual place to experience, you could combine it with a visit to the exceptional Toplou Winery whose wines are completely organic, located adjacent to the monastery.
One of the most significant cultural and historical churches on the island, Panagia Kera houses some of the best-preserved Byzantine-era frescoes on Crete. The Baptism and the Entry Into Jerusalem from the New Testament are only a few of the scenes depicted on the frescoes as one enters the church. Located just one kilometre from the quaint traditional village of Kritsa it is regarded as a must-visit place on the island