2. From Heraklion: Knossos, Gortyna, Phaistos & Zaros Bus Tour
Meet with your guide at the terminal of Cretan Spiti Travel at Eleftherias Square in front of Astoria Capsis Hotel at 08.30, we drive 5km to southeast off the city to visit the Knossos Palace which was built from 1700 to 1400 BC. Advanced architectural techniques were used in its construction, and sections of the palace stood up to 5 stories high. Settlements in Knossos date as far back as the Neolithic period. Neolithic remains from around 7000 BC are found throughout Crete. Explore the ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization. Knossos Palace featured 1,300 rooms connected by corridors, and a theater and extensive storerooms, which held large clay containers of oil, grains, dried fish, beans and olives – often with gold hidden beneath. The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos. The excavations in Knossos began in 1900 A.D. by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans and his team and they continued for 35 years. At approximately 10.30, we drive to Gortyna, the Roman capital of Crete and Cyrenaica and was first inhabited around 3200 BC. Stop at the Village of Plouti for an optional lunch at “To Steki tou Chochliou”. After the visit, drive through valley of Mesara to visit the archaeological site of Phaistos and its palace, the most important center of the Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. Finally we arrive to Zaros, attractive, refreshingly unspoiled village famous for its spring water, which is now bottled and sold all over Greece, and an ideal base for walkers to explore the beautiful nature. Zaros also has some fine Byzantine monasteries, and delicious farm-raised trout served up in tavernas around town and on emerald-green Lake Votomos which will be visited. Late in the afternoon at 18:30, we return to Heraklion at the terminal in front of Astoria Capsis Hotel.