We’ve put together a tour through time that will take you from the days of the ancient Minoan civilisations on the island of Crete right through to the modern day consumer civilisation in the open air markets of Heraklion. You are cordially invited to join one of our small group escorted tours for an intriguing journey through Crete’s thrilling and dramatic history.
Crete: A Tour from Ancient to Modern
The Ancient World
Clients who dabble in history will know that Crete is most famous for being the centre of the earliest recorded European civilisation: Minoa (c.2700-1420 BC). Naturally our tour of Crete pays homage to this unique history with visits to several key sites that celebrate the culture of the Minoan civilisation.
Tour Taster: The Mystery of the Phaistos Disc
The Minoan Phaistos disc may be small at only 15cm in diameter, but it is packed with stamped symbols that have fired the imaginations of both enthusiasts and professional archaeologists who have tried to decipher its meaning and purpose.
On this tour you’ll get the chance to chip into the debate – you’ll see the disc itself in the Heraklion Museum and later in the week you visit the magnificent Minoan palace of Phaistos where the disc was discovered in 1908.
Crete’s illustrious history continued beyond the Ancient World; there are many traces of its medieval past that charm and inspire visitors today. Your guide will show you the thirteenth-century fortifications and the Byzantine art that express the two prevailing features of the period: power and beauty.
Tour Taster: The Walls of Heraklion
In a demonstration of the spirit of Venetian mercantilism, Venice bought the city of Heraklion from the Saracens in 1204. Our guided tour will take you around the walls that the Venetians put up to protect the old city. The fortress of Koules, the 4 gates and the 7 bastions still stand today.
Early Modern Crete
The story of Crete becomes even more complex and entertaining in the period spanning from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. A tug of war between the Venetians and the Ottomans ending in a Greek War of Independence served to shape the culture and aesthetics of the places that our tour visits.
Tour Taster: Lepers and Spinalong
Spinalonga is a ghost town haunted by its past, and our guide will lead you through its sorrowful story on your visit here. The islet was turned into a leper colony in the early nineteenth century and it achieved notoriety as the last active leper colony in Europe before it was finally closed in 1957.
WWII and Crete
The island played an important part in World War II. It was the site of several daring and tragic episodes, the most famous of which was the involvement of the British Secret Service in the kidnapping of a German Commandant.
Tour Taster: The Village of Anogia – A Cretan Phoenix
You’ll be taken to the village of Anogia, a testament to the strength and resources of the people of Crete. This village literally rose from the ashes which were all that remained after the Nazis ordered its destruction as punishment for the Cretan collaboration in the kidnapping of the German Commandant. I am always moved when I visit the rebuilt village that flourishes today despite its dark past.
This escorted tour doesn’t neglect modern day Crete. From regional dishes to encounters with the local population, you’ll get a good sense of the contemporary island. We’ll guide you through the thriving open air markets of Heraklion, take you to some fantastic cafes and taverns and give you the opportunity to taste the wines and olive oils that fuel the local economy.