Saturday, January 14, 2012

Minoans and Venetians

Crete has been shaped by its past glories.  These glories are mostly from the Minoan and Venetian periods of their history.  They have also been completely terrorized by the Turks, but this is the negative period of their past and I won't dwell on it (you can read this post to learn of some of this horror). 

Every town on Crete has a Venetian fountain and the larger "cities" have Venetian forts. In my humble opinion, the fort in Rethymno is the most impressive.  Hania's fort is almost non-existant and Iraklion's fort is so small.  But Rethymno's fort is definitely the center piece of town and is an impressive fortification on their port.  I already posted the photos from inside the fort.  See for yourself how impressive the outside is...

JOL_4457

JOL_4456

JOL_4455

JOL_4454

JOL_4452

JOL_4448

JOL_4446

JOL_4437

Not part of the fort, but I like the image:

JOL_4440

The Minoans existed on Crete between 27th and 15th century BC. Sir Arthur Evans discovered the first signs of this ancient culture on Crete with his discovery of Knossos. Although Sir Evans was working in the 18th century, there are still a number of mysteries related to this society.  One of which is why there is a cemetery of around 200 graves near Rethymno, but not near any known Minoan settlement (the settlements seem to all be in the Iraklion area).  Mom's theory is that there was a settlement near Rethymno, they just haven't found it.  It doesn't really make sense that the Minoans held reign for so long on the island and never moved to this beautiful setting on the northwest coast.  So I agree with Mom.  I mean, they didn't even know this cemetery existed until 1969 when it was discovered.

The grave sites housed families (not single individuals) and people were buried with their worldly goods.  The items found in the graves are now housed in the various archeological museums on the island.  Still the graves are interesting to see.  They are carved out of rock, but underground -- Crete is basically just a big piece of rock.  Some have stairs to the doorway, some don't.  The graves were closed with large rock slabs, some of which are still at the site.  The graveyard is a beautiful oak grove in the hills near Armeni. 

JOL_4461

JOL_4465

JOL_4467

JOL_4471

Of course the bus schedule wasn't really set for tourists to get to this sight, so we had more time than we needed. We took a little walk while waiting for the bus...

JOL_4473

JOL_4476

JOL_4475