Ancient and contemporary History comes alive on this all-day excursion that takes you to some of Crete’s most popular sites.
Once hailed as the home of the Minoan civilization, today it’s home to a spectacular array of sights, monuments, and archeological wonders. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera to capture every memorable moment. Our first stop will be the Palace of Knossos. You’ll be whisked away to an ancient world when Crete was the cradle of the Mediterranean’s early Bronze Age. Its capital was Knossos and its centerpiece was the famous Minoan Palace. Although it sits just 15 miles from Heraklion, it may feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you see the ruins of the 4,000-year-old palace come into view. Once you disembark, your knowledgeable guide will lead you around the palace that, according to Greek mythology, was the magnificent home of King Minos. Stretched over six acres, the palace is a marvel of camera-worthy delights. 1,300 rooms, corridors of different sizes, walls adorned with colorful frescoes, and graceful columns all add to the grandeur that was once the largest of all Minoan palatial structures. Originally constructed in 1900 B.C., it was destroyed and rebuilt over five centuries before its final destruction in 1400 B.C. The entire complex lay undisturbed until 1878 when a merchant discovered the ruins. 25 years later, the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans unearthed and restored much of what you see today. As you wind your way around the small yet impressive rooms, you may notice that it’s not the mysterious labyrinth of Greek legend where the dreaded half-man, half-bull Minotaur lay in wait for its victims but a breathtaking walk through time. After Knossos and a short drive, we will continue to famous Boutari Winery, one of the most modern wineries in Crete. The winery invites you to take part in its tours and get to know the world and the secrets of wine along with the experts. The facilities are located in Skalani area on Fantaxometocho Estate, just 8 km from the centre of Heraklion and 4 km from the archaeological site of Knossos, in the private Boutari vineyard. There, you can choose the duration of the tour and the services that interest you. An integrated tour includes a tour of the estate's vineyards and winery facilities, where you will find a rich cellar –here the wines of the estate are aged– and the special projection room for a unique journey back in time to the history of Crete, through an impressive audio-visual experience. The resident Boutari oenologist offers a basic course on wine tasting, during which you can explore this mystical art through all their senses, accompanied by local flavors. Continuing we will drive until the Traditional Village of AROLITHOS. Arolithos is the unique traditional private Cretan village. It lies just 11 kilometers away from Heraklion.Built on the slope of a mountain, in the wild Cretan landscape, the village is a feast for the eyes, evoking memories from the past of older generations as for their way of living while revealing the simplicity and beauty of old times to younger generations. AROLITHOS is a family - run business. It was implemented with great passion and love for Cretan tradition. Its goal is to bring Cretan tradition, the customs and habits of the region, the architecture and the values of Cretan people into relief, through a project that will stay alive for a long time to come. AROLITHOS complex could be characterized as a reconstruction of a typical Cretan village including various departments such as: Hotel, Traditional tavern with Cretan recipes, a Traditional Café, a Museum of Rural History and Popular Art, Traditional Cretan houses, Ceramics, Painting, Woven Textile, Old blacksmith's (As an exhibition place), Shops with Cretan products, o local Church etc. Arolithos is a Cretan word, which means “a rock’s hole gathering rainwater”. The village AROLITHOS has taken that symbolic name because it encompasses the tradition and beauty of Crete, just like the hole in the rock gathers water. Here, visitors escape from the tiring everyday routine for a while and is taken back to the past, where everything used to be pure and genuine. The activities available in Arolithos are related to popular art and nutrition. They are exclusively intended for groups, only upon discussion. In Arolithos guests can also do interactive tailor made activities to their special preferences (upon extra charge).
The following activities are available upon request:
Cretan cooking lesson. Our guests prepare the Cretan ‘Dakos’ and stuffed vegetables (tomatoes and green peppers) and they sample those already cooked.
Preparation of Cretan wedding rolls. Specially trained women called xobliastres (which means “embroideresses” in the Cretan idiom) demonstrate our guest the process of production and decoration of the Cretan wedding roll, a sort of brioche decorated with amazingly intricate patterns and offered at wedding receptions. Subsequently, visitors are invited to attempt to imitate the process.
The Weaving Art. Weavers, who are mostly high skilled women, demonstrate the art of weaving, inviting guests to attempt the process.
Cretan Dances Learning. A qualified dancing master offers a two-hour Cretan dances learning session.
Kneading and Baking Bread. With the baker’s help, our guests knead bread, prepare the wood oven and bake their own bread. Subsequently, they can enjoy their home-made bread with cheese and olives.
Among the goals of the traditional village of Arolithos is the collection, maintenance and exhibition of local folkloric items, the support and preservation of local arts and crafts, as well as of artistic activities from different domains, i.e. painting, music and dance, the preservation of customs and their propagation to the next generations and the preservation of Cretan cuisine along with the promotion of local dishes and food.
Sights that can be visited or added while to the above program
• The Museum of Local Art and Agricultural History in ‘Arolithos’. The form and image of the traditional village is complete with the presence of the museum of Local Art and Agricultural History. To achieve its main goal, which is to preserve and promote the Cretan civilization and tradition, Arolithos established a museum. This museum exhibits old household objects of everyday life, agricultural tools and various items of local art. Some of these items are: a complete traditional living room, large earthen pots (used for storing water, wine and oil), flat irons which run on coal, weaving looms, combs used for sheep, pots used for the preparation of bread, a shepherd’s coat (gambas), a wooden box used for storage (kasela), an old clock, lamp stands, scales, strainers, household utensils (pans, pots, etc.), a wooden bed, a shepherd’s bag, a sewing machine, embroidery, traditional Cretan dresses, a dowry bag, a straw basket, plates, religious icons, plows, hand - mills, sickles, pack saddles, various crockery (glasses, cups, plates, etc.), Cretan weapons, guns and swords. A bibliographic reference material on the tradition, the civilization and the history Crete is currently being compiled.
Important notes and comments
• The above program is for a full day excursion (09:00-16:00) and the actual duration depends on where our guests are staying (hotel, apartment etc).
• The entrance fees in all sites are not included in our offer and guests have to pay them directly.
• The tour, the multimedia presentation and the wine tasting in Boutari winery will be covered directly from the guests.
• The tour and any type of activity or snack / lunch in Arolithos will be paid directly from the clients.
• Many different options can be included in the basic program if requested like: The Historical Museum, the Natural History Museum, the archeological museum of Archanes, the archaeological museum of Heraklion, the oldest winepress in Vathypetro etc
• Possibility of booking a licensed guide with an additional extra cost in the following languages: English, German, French etc.
• We can recommend very good restaurants during the excursion.
• Please feel free to contact us in order to give you our detailed offer, create a unique tailor made program according to your exact needs and requirements from your hotel of accommodation.