Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.

Skinakas Observatory

In the heart of the central part of Crete in the Idi massif there is an astronomical observatory. In a straight line the distance separating this place from Heraklion is only 25 km, however, it should be remembered that there are no simple roads in Crete. The actual distance that you have to travel by car from the capital of Crete is just over 50 km. At the same time part of this route leads through quite remote mountainous regions, where it is impossible to develop higher speeds. Therefore, the right amount of time should be allocated to this journey.

The observatory is located near the mythical Ida cave (6 km) and the beautiful and picturesque Nida Plateau. So if you plan to come to this area to see one of these places, this observatory is worth adding to the list.

Unfortunately, apart from designated open days, this place is closed to visitors. However, in our opinion, driving a narrow mountain road that leads here and views from above are sufficient reasons for reaching here. An additional advantage of this place can also be the fact that the mountainous region is much cooler, which in the case of summer heat has a considerable importance :)

Skinakas

A joint initiative

The observatory is located at the top of the Skinakas mountain at an altitude of 1750 m. The idea for its construction was born in 1984, soon after the construction of the road leading to the mountain began. It was a joint initiative of the Cretan University, the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) and the German Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische. These organizations work together to provide students with modern education in the field of astronomy, and support astronomical observations including extended sky research and objects such as comets or nebulae.

In the spring of 1986, when the construction of the observatory was completed, a lot of people came from all over Greece. A good reason, apart from the inauguration, was the possibility of observing Halley's comet, which just this year approached the Earth again at a distance of 150 million km (March 15). Initially there was only one small telescope with a diameter of 0.3 m, but the success of the observatory confirmed that the excellent conditions characterizing Skinakas make it one of the best places for astronomical observations in the whole Mediterranean area. Therefore, it was decided to further develop the capabilities of the observatory and since autumn 1995 operates here a second larger and more modern telescope with a diameter of 1.3 m. Currently, it is the main tool for observing the sky.

Mount Skinakas

RoboPol has been operating here since 2013, under this name a device specially designed for the 1.3m telescope is hiding, used to measure the intensity and polarization of reflected light, stars and magnetic field. An interesting fact is that it was created as a result of cooperation of scientific centers from Greece, the USA, Germany, India and the Nicolaus Copernicus University from Toruń.

The instruments located in the observatory are commonly used for educational and didactic activities. Students and graduates of the Cretan University have the opportunity to participate in research projects conducted at Skiankas. Apart from conducting their scientific research, the observatory's employees are very active during public events, supporting various types of meetings and lectures on astronomy. They also took part in the Cosmos program, financed by the EU, whose aim is to increase education in this field.


Open days

Permanently open days in the observatory have already entered the calendar. Five days are set each year during which you can come here and enter the observatory. These events attract nearly 1,000 people a year.
Also for this year, specific dates have recently been set when you can come to Skinakas to be able to see the sky through the telescope and get acquainted with the latest developments in this field.

Open days in 2018 are planned for:

  • May 20 (Sunday)
  • June 24 (Sunday)
  • July 22 (Sunday)
  • August 19 (Sunday)
  • September 16 (Sunday).

However, these terms may be changed when there is no weather that will allow observation of the sky. If you want to participate in open days, please contact us on the website a few days before this eventPlease check if the date you have chosen is current. The Observatory also reserves the right to set additional dates for open days at a later time.

During open days, the observatory can be visited between 18.00-23.00. By 20:30 visitors will be able to explore the infrastructure and familiarize themselves with the operation of the telescope. At a later time (20.30-21.00) it is planned to view the astronomical objects indicated by the telescope. Due to limited time and space, presentations will be conducted in Greek. Depending on the time available and the number of visitors, there may also be short presentations in English. Due to the low temperatures at the height where Skinakas is located, guests should obtain warmer clothes. It should also be taken into account that a very limited number of seats is available. A large number of visitors means that the waiting time in the queue for sightseeing can be even over an hour. It is also worth taking into account the lack of public toilets and places offering food and drink.

Road to Skinakas

The access road to the observatory is very narrow, so you have to be very careful when driving here. This remark may be important especially for tourists for whom Cretan mountain roads are a big challenge. In the case of organized trips it is recommended that you do not travel here by coach. An additional difficulty is also the lack of a large car park where you can leave your car.

How to get from city of Heraklion to Skinakas

The Skinakas Observatory is located in the central part of Crete. It is located about 50 kilometers west of Heraklion. To get to this place, first of all, you have to go to Anogia. If you use the New National Road when traveling, the best solution is to follow the signs suggesting appropriate descents. Skinakas is further away from Anogia for another 20 kilometers. Departure to the narrow road heading for the observatory is located just at the entrance to the Nida Plateau.

Access map

west
central
east

Interesting places on Crete

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Knossos
Knossos

Knossos

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Heraklion
Heraklion

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Margarites

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International airport. Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion is currently the largest airport in Crete.

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Heraklion
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Heraklion

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Moni Arkadiou
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Rethymnon
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Skinaria
Skinaria

Skinaria

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Skinaria
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Skinaria

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Jaskinia Idi
Jaskinia Idi

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According to Greek mythology, Zeus hid (and perhaps even gave birth) in the Ida cave. This myth is the greatest asset of this cave, which is not as interesting and beautiful as the Dikte cave.

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Tripiti
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Tripiti
Tripiti

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Tripiti is a small beach covered with a mixture of gray sand, gravel and stones. Despite the fact that the beach is unorganized and has a semi-natural appearance, one small tavern works here.

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Tripiti
Tripiti

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Plakias
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Plakias

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

Preveli monastery

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Preveli monastery
Preveli monastery

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Fajstos
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Archeological museum
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Damnoni
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Agia Galini
Agia Galini

Agia Galini

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Skinakas Observatory
Skinakas Observatory

Skinakas Observatory

The observatory is located at the top of the Skinakas mountain at an altitude of 1750 m. The idea for its construction was born in 1984.

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Armeni
Armeni

Armeni

The Late-Romanesque cemetery in Armeni is located on the outskirts of this town, located less than 10 km south of the center of Rethymno.

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Military Museum
Military Museum

Military Museum

The museum presents the dramatic history of Crete written over the last several hundred years.

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Argyroupolis
Argyroupolis

Argyroupolis

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Lentas
Lentas

Lentas

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Labyrinthaki and Labyrinthos
Labyrinthaki and Labyrinthos

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Archeological Museum in Eleftherna
Estiatorio Chrisopigi
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Gortyna

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Psiloritis - Timios Stavros
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Matala

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Monastery of Odigitrias
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Kali Limenes
Kali Limenes

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