Reply To: Maritime sites in Crete

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    We visited Crete in 1980, and at that time one of the shipping pens that were used to protect Venetian blockade runners from the Turks during what must have been the longest seige in history was under preservation and could be inspected. The Venetian ships entered during the night, and were protected on their run in by the fort at the end of the jetty, which can be visited. The whole affair enabled the Cretans to hold out indefinitely against the Turks, and the town only fell in the end through treachery. The ship pen was high enough to accomodate the masts of the Veneian ships, and stout enough to withstand any amount of Turkish gunfire. Shades of WWII U-boat pens!

    Another site a few miles to the east of Iraklion (or Candia, as many of the locals still call it) is Amnysos, the port of Knossos. Sadly, most of it was swept away by the tsunami that hit the area when Thera exploded in about 1550 BC, but there are a few excavated remains to be seen at either end of the beach, where the main part of the harbour must have been. The latter is now occupied by a hotel complex.

    There are other sites of some interest, but most are on the south coast and only accessible by sea. One rather hippy/touristy one is Vii, at the extreme eastern end of the island, famous as the resort of Barbarossa and his men, who are alleged to have produced the date palmery there by dropping date stones all over the place. All the existing ports such as Retimnon (Retimo in local parlance) have their histories if you dig a little.

    The place must have changed since our visit, and there will certainly be far more people and holiday facilities than during our time, when it was less well known, but if anything of the atmosphere we experienced remains, prepare for a very pleasant culture shock, and a keen native business sense.