The Palace of Knossos
28 April 2013 | Crete
Thursday April 25, 2013
Up early with the prospect of seeing the capital city of Heraklion, Brian left in the rental car to see what could be done about putting Necessity in bond while she is on the hard. This stops the clock for the 18 month limit we can have her in the EU. The Customs agent was accommodating and 50 Euros later we had surrendered our transit log and all was done. It was a little trickier returning to the marina through the maze of one way streets but by 9:30 we were on the way to Heraklion 80 km away. The "new road" was good and although our Hyundai Getz lacked power for some of the hills, we followed the custom of pulling over to the paved shoulder when being overtaken.
Heraklion has a poor harbour and the guidebooks suggested it was not worth much of a visit but it does have a great archeological museum which houses the treasures recovered from the Minoan Royal Palace at Knossos not far away. We parked outside the massive gate of St. George and entered the Venetian city on foot. The Minoan civilization was a very advanced with examples of their art dating back to 6500 BC. By 1700 BC they were creating magnificent jewelry, pottery and iron pieces which were all on display. We marveled at the frescoes which were drawn and coloured on the wet plaster walls. While only some fragments have been found, the rest of the frescoes have been reconstructed so the entire picture is visible. They claim that the reconstructed parts have to be repainted every 3-4 years while the 4000 year old pieces never change colour! We then went to the sculpture gallery with heads and full size sculptures from the palace and other nearby archeological sights. The life- like images are startling and really give a better picture if the people they depict.
Walking around the narrow streets we worked our way down to the port and back up to the city walls before finding a restaurant in an old Venetian home with a lovely patio out back. Had a wonderful lunch with pasta, octopus and lamb along with a local cheese appetizer.
Travelling to the site of the 3000 year old Palace outside town we enlisted the services of a wonderful guide, Calliope, who spent over an hour showing us the detail of the site which lay undiscovered until about 100 years ago. It was a magnificent 5 story structure of stone with wood beams to improve its earthquake resistance. 1500 rooms in all surrounded the open central courtyard. There were underground cold rooms, a huge staircase and underground piping for fresh water, sewers and rainwater. The royal family’s chambers were set low in the building to keep them cool while light came from a 3 storey open passageway. The many archways had doors which could be opened or closed to provide a cooling breeze or warmth as needed. It was a phenomenal site, far advanced even compared with structures 3000 years newer.
Going back to the car, we started back towards Necessity but as there was daylight left, we diverted from the main road heading up over the rounded hills to Elounda north of Ag Nik. Here a string of offshore islands form a bay with a small channel connecting it to the outside Sea of Crete. We found a causeway across the bottom of the bay with a little humped bridge over the 12' wide canal. As we watched a fishing boat transited the canal ... almost. He came aground about 2/3 through and only made it through with Brian & Howard pulling on a line he threw to them - Canada to the rescue!
Back on board, we enjoyed hors d'ouvres in the cockpit and an early night.
Brian on board Necessity, Aghios Nikolaos, Greece