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.

Káto Zákros (Ζάκρος)

Over 40 km behind Sitia, south of Palekastro, there is the fourth-largest Minoan palace in Crete. This latest found, built on the east coast of the island is located in the village of Káto Zákros. Rocky mountains surround the ruins of the palace complex with the remains of a once thriving city, built on a fairly hard-to-reach and inhabited area. Paradoxically, Zakros, being several centuries ago, a city with extensive contacts with other countries, was (and is actually still) the most isolated Minoan center on the island.

The location of this palace off the beaten path of Crete means that today it is the Minoan palace, the least visited by tourists, even though it is most beautifully located. Picturesque mountain roads and a large distance from popular tourist resorts located along the northern coast are an insurmountable barrier for tour operators. Visiting Zakros is not included in the offer of optional tours of popular travel agencies, so people who bought a trip to Crete from the office and want to visit Zakros are renting a car and taking an independent trip.





History of excavations in Kato Zakros

The first archaeological excavations in Zakros began at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries British archaeologist David George Hogarth. Thanks to his work near the former port, the ruins of 12 buildings were discovered, after which the excavations were abandoned.

The resumption of archaeological research took place in 1961. The Greek archaeologist Nikolaos Platon has led the expedition this time. His work brought significant discoveries. Upper Zakros was discovered, in which there are remains of the palace, excavations of various craft tools, clay plates with linear writing were also unearthed. A several-year break in running the works also had its advantages. More modern and scientific methods were used to dig up the remains than in the case of the other larger palaces.

Ritual riton from Zakros
A ritual riton found during excavations conducted in 1963.
Decorated with characteristic decorations depicting mountain landscapes.

It is worth noting that since the World War II, the discovery of the palace in Zakros is one of the most important discoveries of the remains of Minoan culture, and the fact that archaeological works are carried out to the present allows you to hope that other interesting finds will also see the light of day.

The history of the palace

The palace was built around 1900 BC. As with the other Minoan centers in Crete, the old palaces were destroyed by earthquakes, and new ones were replaced in their place. Thus, the palace is rebuilt in Zakros around 1600 BC. Its area was then about 8000 square meters, while in the palace there were 150 rooms (various sources give different numbers) and a central courtyard measuring 30 x 12 meters. The flourishing city, which formerly surrounded the palace, has not been fully excavated to the surface. Residential houses that have been discovered so far have often been large, some of them even up to 30 rooms and also small storage rooms. In the end, around 1450 BC, the palace in Zakros shared the fate of the other Minoan centers and was suddenly destroyed for unexplained reasons.

Zakros - crystal riton

Ryton made of mountain crystal
decorated with a gilded ivory ring.
This vessel is considered by many archaeologists to be one
of the most beautiful finds in Crete.

Although the palace in Zakros was about five times smaller than Knossos , its specific location made it an administrative, commercial and religious center for the entire area. Good geographical conditions meant that the port in Zakros was much better sheltered from the wind than the one in Palekastro located a little further north, making it better adapted to the adoption of a large fleet of commercial and military ships.
Thanks to this, the city is a hundredabout the main communication and trade center that maintains contacts with the Middle East, Egypt and Cyprus.

The rich commercial activity of the palace can be proved by the wealth of imported materials found here. These findings include ivory, various metals and semi-precious stones. In addition, as it turned out, the palace warehouses were not used to store agricultural products as much as in other palaces, which indicates a different source of income. In Zakros, mainly metal products, fabrics and ceramics were stored.

Ivory from Zakros
Ivory found at the site of the Zakros excavation - most likely imported from Egypt,
in the back of the picture, on the right, copper bars (each weighing about 30 kg) are visible.

Another argument supporting the thesis that the palace functioned more as a trade center was the location of the main entrance to Zakros. The city and the port were located north of the palace, so the main entrance was from the north-east.

An interesting find is nine shallow tanks, which were probably used during dyeing of fabrics and a cistern for collecting water. As it turned out, one of them had religious significance and sacrifices for the gods. Archaeologists were lucky and discovered this cistern a bowl with quite well preserved olives probably once deposited in a gift. The humid environment of the cisterns preserved the pulp and skin of the fruit. These oldest olives were displayed at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion until the renovation began. Let's hope that once the work is finished, the olives will be made available again. Found fruits and an olive press excavated in the city also prove that the fruits of the olive tree and olive oil were an important part of the diet of the Minoans. Among the discovered buildings of the city, among others, press used for the production of wine were found. It is highly probable that Zakros specialized in the production of wine exported later to the Cyclades.

Zakros olives
Olives found in one of the tanks discovered in Kato Zakros
(photo of the game board from the excavation site)

In the immediate vicinity of the palace there is also the entrance to the gorge with the intriguing name of Gorge of the Dead, which was named after Minoan graves found in nearby caves. However, visiting it is best to plan for those months that have a more lively air temperature.

How to get

In order to get to Zakros, it is best to rent a car because communication is poor and optional excursions do not come here. You can of course use bus connections, however, KTEL does not have direct connections with, for example, Heraklion . The bus arriving to Zakros leaves the city of Sitia at 6.00 and 14.30. Buses from Zakros leave at 7.00 and 15.30. This means that if you decide to reach KTEL, you need much more time, because first you must go to Sitia.



Going to Zakros by car, drive to the New National Road and head first to Sitia, then further east to Palokastro, where you have to turn right and look for signs for Zakros. Rather, do not plan to travel directly from Sitia through Piskokefalo - we strongly advised this local Greeks to such an option.

Zakros - access map

In 2011, entrance tickets to the excavation site cost 3 € per person. When planning a tour, it is best to reserve a greater amount of time to reach the place late in the morning or early afternoon, because in addition to watching the excavations worth visiting the excellent seaside taverns that specialize in excellent fish and take a bath in the sea. It is worth to leave here before dark, because Zakros is located nand a remote place, and access roads are quite demanding. You can also plan a return to the south coast - it is worth joining the plans for visiting Xerokambos . However, returning along the southern coast takes a lot of time, because it is connected with winding mountain roads, on which it is impossible to develop higher speeds.

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Interesting places on Crete

↤ click the appropriate part of the island to change the bottom map

Malia
Malia

Malia

Information about one of the more known tourist cities of Crete, or about Malia. Description of attractions located in the city of Malia and a description of the specificity of this town.

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Kritsa
Kritsa

Kritsa

Kritsa is one of the largest villages in Crete. The village has a lot of shops with local crafts.

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Lasithi
Lasithi

Lasithi

The Lasithi Plateau is located about 70 kilometers from the capital of Crete - Heraklion. The average height at which the terrain of this plateau is located is 840 m above sea level.

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Dikte Cave
Dikte Cave

Dikte Cave

One of the tourist attractions eagerly visited by people spending their holidays in Crete is the Dikte (Psychro) cave. The main factors that attract people to this cave are a rich and varied dripstone robe and a close connection with mythology.

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Panagia Kera
Panagia Kera

Panagia Kera

Among the olive groves in the place called Logari, which is less than a kilometer from the village of Kritsa, there is a small Byzantine church of Panagia Kera from the 13th-14th centuries.

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Stalida
Stalida

Stalida

Stalida is located directly along the coast and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Crete, which definitely comes alive with the advent of the tourist season

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Gorge Ha
Gorge Ha

Gorge Ha

Most people crossing the route between Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra will definitely notice the large crack which is marked by the mountain located east of this road. This majestic geological creation called Ha was probably created as a result of an earthquake.

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Xerokambos
Xerokambos

Xerokambos

Xerokambos is a small settlement in which you will find literally several taverns, and most of the buildings are single-storey and one-story houses. The big advantage of this beach is a gentle sandy descent to the sea.

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Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος) is a small town with less than 20,000 inhabitants. permanent residents (according to statistical data from 2001). This city is the capital of the Lasithi nomos.

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Elounda
Elounda

Elounda

Although Elounda seems to be a sleepy fishing town to this day, however, appearances should not fool you, because this town and its surroundings can boast of probably the largest number of the best hotels.

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Elounda
Elounda

Elounda

Although Elounda seems to be a sleepy fishing town to this day, however, appearances should not fool you, because this town and its surroundings can boast of probably the largest number of the best hotels.

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Stalida
Stalida

Stalida

Stalida is located directly along the coast and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Crete, which definitely comes alive with the advent of the tourist season

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Lato
Lato

Lato

The ancient city of the LATO can be found near the charming village of Krista near Agios Nikolaos.

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Gournia
Gournia

Gournia

It is recognized that Gournia was inhabited between 3000 BC. 1,200 BC and is one of the few cities unearthed to a large extent.

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Zakros
Zakros

Zakros

Zakros is the fourth-largest Minoan palace in Crete in importance and size. This latest found, built on the east coast of the island is located in the village of Káto Zákros.

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zakros
zakros

zakros

Zakros is the fourth-largest Minoan palace in Crete in importance and size. This latest found, built on the east coast of the island is located in the village of Káto Zákros.

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Palace in Malia
Palace in Malia

Palace in Malia

The first palace was built around 1900 BC. in the place where there was a quite impressive settlement whose remains were later transformed into the central part of the city.

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Moni Toplou
Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou (Μονή Τοπλού) also called as The Great Monastery is one of the most beautiful and important monasteries in Crete.

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Moni Toplou
Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou

Moni Toplou (Μονή Τοπλού) also called as The Great Monastery is one of the most beautiful and important monasteries in Crete.

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Mochlos
Mochlos

Mochlos

Mochlos is a small town located roughly halfway between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia.

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Vai
Vai

Vai

O Vai zrobiło się głośno, gdy w latach 70-tych na tle palmowego gaju nakręcono reklamę kokosowych batoników Bounty.

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Spinalonga
Spinalonga

Spinalonga

This inconspicuous little island located about 5 km from the center of Elounda is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Crete.

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Trypitos
Trypitos

Trypitos

When heavy equipment entered the promontory near Sitia, no one expected that this area contained the ruins of the Hellenic city.

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Richtis
Richtis

Richtis

The abundance of water and shade mean that even at the peak of the tourist season, this place is full of lush vegetation.

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Chamaizi
Chamaizi

Chamaizi

At the top of a cone-shaped hill called Souvloto Mouri, the remains of an unusual building with a unique oval shape were discovered.

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Moni Toplou Winery
Itanos
Itanos

Itanos

The ruins of the ancient city of Itanos are located at the eastern tip of Crete, less than 3 kilometers north of the famous palm beach of Vai. Although there are also nice beaches at Itanos, unlike its well-known neighbor, this place does not attract crowds. There are either accidental stray tourists or excavation enthusiasts here.

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Roussolakos
Roussolakos

Roussolakos

Just over 2 km from Palekastro, next to Chiona beach, there is a large archaeological site called Roussolakos

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Roussolakos
Roussolakos

Roussolakos

Just over 2 km from Palekastro, next to Chiona beach, there is a large archaeological site called Roussolakos

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Ierapetra
Ierapetra

Ierapetra

Ierapetra (Ιεράπετρα) is the fourth largest city of Crete and also the largest town located in the Lassithi prefecture.

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Diaskari - Green Beach
Diaskari - Green Beach

Diaskari - Green Beach

Diaskari Beach, also known as Green Beach, is less than 3 km from Makry Gialos.

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Koufonissi - cruise to the island
Koufonissi - cruise to the island

Koufonissi - cruise to the island

Koufonissi is a small island in the Libyan Sea, located just a stone's throw from the southern coast of Crete.

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Makry Gialos
Makry Gialos

Makry Gialos

Makry Gialos is one of the less-appreciated tourist destinations in Crete.

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Sitia
Sitia

Sitia

Less than 10,000 population of Sitia makes the city the smallest in Crete. Some even go a step further and say perversely that it is rather the largest village of Crete.

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Napoleon's house
Napoleon's house

Napoleon's house

Napoleon's house is one of the few typically tourist attractions in Ierapetra. About what could have happened here in the summer of 1798 and possibly how much in this legend is the truth we write in the article on the page below.

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Zakros and Kato Zakros
Zakros and Kato Zakros

Zakros and Kato Zakros

Zakros is a small town on the east coast of Crete, less than 40 km south-east of Sitia.

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Komentarze

 Anna Mysl-Badera
Anna Mysl-Badera
2015-01-31 19:21:11

a jaka piękna droga do Zakros, polecam tym, którzy nie byli :)

1
 CRETE - Kreta
CRETE - Kreta
2015-01-31 21:12:15

Tak, drogi w tym rejonie są wyjątkowo piękne.

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gość PiotrWie: Ciekawe czy autor doszedł czy dopłynął na plażę Domata.
Iwona Burakowska: Drogi mają kiepskie a jeżdżą też nie najlepiej niestety.
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