You are just one step away from discovering one of the best kept secrets of the Aegean Sea. The picture perfect Island of Crete. Covered by mountains and with over 8,300 km2 of surface area it is the largest island in Greece. With 1,040 km (646 miles) of coastline and a population of 650,000 inhabitants, this destination is ideal for an unforgettable holiday with family, your partner or friends. And for everything to fall into place why not stay at one of the top hotels in Crete with Iberostar Hotels and Resorts?
In addition to treasuring a dense past that goes back almost 5,000 years, this fascinating island of just 255 km (158 miles) end to end contains an inexhaustible list of natural beaches, rugged summits and breath-taking gorges. With all of this to offer it is not surprising that, according to Greek mythology, Zeus the king of the gods was born in Crete.
Birthplace of the Minoans, considered to be the first pre-Hellenic civilization, (3000 BC – 1400 BC), the history of Crete is marked by the passage of the Romans, who founded, the city–state of Gortina in 65 BC. After that the Byzantines, Venetians and Turks all left their mark, so the architectural and cultural heritage of the island is huge.
Considered to be one of the greatest holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, Crete is also a world of landscape contrasts and archaeological sites, some of which are among the most spectacular and ancient in Europe.
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One of the places to visit in Crete is Heraklion, the island's capital. Surrounded by powerful walls, its focal point is Nikiforou Phoca Square, embellished in its central part by a 17th century fountain. Opposite this one, stands the Agios Markos church, built by the Venetians in 1239 and a currently venue for concerts and exhibitions. That same street houses a beautiful 17th century lodge that houses the City Hall. After passing this building, and in a square, you will see the Agios Titos church, from the 16th century and dedicated to the patron saint of the island. Obviously, one should not miss the Koules fortress, the History Museum of Crete, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Natural History, dedicated to the ecosystems of the Aegean. By the way: in the surroundings, you have the best golf courses in Crete.
However, the main tourist attraction of this insular territory is the unique Palace of Knossos, the main architectural testimony of the Minoan culture. Other key places to approach this civilization is Fourni Hill, where you can see a huge Minoan cemetery, and the archaeological site of Malia, whose oldest vestiges date from 2100-1900 BC.
Another place that deserves your attention is the nearby Lasithi plateau, full of emblematic windmills. There is the amazing cave called Dictea, a place plenty of fascinating stalactites and stalagmites that, according to mythology, witnessed the birth of Zeus.
Of course, in this list we must mention the town of Rethymno, where two Iberostar 4-star hotels are located. It is considered the third most important town in Crete.
From an architectural point of view, the town of Rethymno exhibits a beautiful restored lighthouse from the 13th century and, of course, the city's Venetian-era citadel, the Fortezza of Rethymno, one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. which dominates the city from the inner harbour. Designed by the architect Michele Sanmicheli, and completed in around 1570, it served to defend the city from Turkish pirates. Inside, there is a mosque, a small church and part of the governor’s residence. In front of the main entrance, is the Archaeological Museum, which opens its doors in an old Ottoman ravelin and houses a late Minoan Sarcophagi among other treasures. Lastly, it is highly recommended to take time to get to know the old town located behind the Fortezza, which is full of narrow streets dotted with Venetian and Turkish buildings. Close by is the Neratze mosque (1657), which is considered the best-preserved in the city.
Near of the Iberostar hotels you will find 20 km (12.5 miles) of beaches running all the way to the town of Georgioupoli, an enclave which has managed to preserve the charming atmosphere of another era. Very close to there, Lake Kournas is framed between hills. This place is great for tourists wanting to practice water sports, such as canoeing or windsurfing. It is also an ideal place to get close to Moni Arkadhiou, one of the most venerated monasteries in Crete.
What do you think of all these suggestions? Although it’s hard to believe, this is just a small appetizer of how much Crete has to offer. And so, you have no excuses, Iberostar offers you two luxury hotels in Rethymnon, and two beachfront resorts with all the necessary comforts to make your holiday in Greece just perfect.
In the first of these resorts, the Iberostar Creta Marine, you can choose between stunning rooms with views of the Aegean or bungalows, from where you can take in the most beautiful sunsets. In addition, this is one of the best options for guests travelling with children and teenagers as it has a playground, several swimming pools (including a children’s pool) and an optional babysitting service, for a small surcharge.
The same could be said about the Iberostar Creta Panorama & Mare resort, a hotel with a private beach, swimming pools (including a heated pool), a hair and beauty salon, a sauna, hot-tub, children’s playground, meeting rooms and much, much more. In addition, its restaurants offer specialties inspired by Greek and Cretan cuisine, such as the gemistá (tomatoes and roasted peppers stuffed with rice), Horta (wild vegetables seasoned with oil and lemon) or the local Greek salad with cucumber, olives and feta cheese.
So, when looking for a place to stay in Crete, consider the Iberostar hotels on offer and visit all these places and more. Visit the Southernmost island of Greece, at the best price.
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