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Port of HeraklionOur first port was Heraklion, Greece which is on the island of Crete and its capital and largest city. Crete was once the center of Europe's most ancient civilization, the Minoan. From the port we drove south to Knossos, the ancient capital of the great King Minos.Palace of KnossosOur guided tour of the ruins of the Palace of Knossos was through puddles as it was pouring rain. We sought shelter during the heaviest downpours and then ran out to take pictures and see more when the rain let up. The original palace was constructed around 1900 BC. It served as the administrative and religious center for the entire region. Some 200 years later, an earthquake destroyed the palace. However, it was rebuilt on an even grander scale. A fire swept through the city around 1400 BC causing its ultimate destruction. The palace was discovered, excavated and partially restored starting in 1900 by British archeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The palace had 1400 rooms and was 4 stories high. It was considered to be the Labyrinth in Greek Mythology. Legend has it that a huge maze was designed within the palace by the legendary artificer Daedalus to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull. It was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

Vine covered streetOur next stop was to a rustic, picturesque village in the mountains of Crete. The hillsides were covered with grape vineyards and olive groves. Fortunately the rain let up and we walked through narrow, winding streets with fruit trees lining the way and grape vines in overhead trellises. We visited an old Eastern Orthodox church, then a shop that makes bells for goats. Did you know that the alpha goat wears the bell and the other goats and sheep in the herd follow where he goes? The tour also included a delicious lunch at a local tavern and a stop in a home for some homemade Raki - a grape-based Greek liqueur.

To view more photos from Crete, please go to Crete Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to La Goulette, Tunisia.




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