"In Search Of The Minotaur" Top 5 Page for this destination Crete Island by Balam

Crete Island Travel Guide: 1,462 reviews and 3,873 photos

A Great Place

Our base was Gouves on the north coast of Crete Island and to the east of Heraklion, this municipality spreads from the lovely beaches a few kilometres inland to the fertile fields and picturesque villages that cling to the different hills.

In recent years tourist development has been very marked in this area of Crete due to its wonderful beaches and to its vicinity being close to Heraklion in the west and Chersonissos a few kilometres to the east. Gouves covers an area of 9496 ha with a population of 5000 people.

The Legend of the Minotaur

Half bull, half man, the Minotaur was the most fearsome monster of ancient times. Its horns were sharp as knives, its great hooves could kick the life out the strongest of heroes, and its food was human flesh. The Minotaur lived in the labyrinth, a great maze of winding passages on the island of Crete. Each year seven youths and seven maidens were sent from Greece as food for the beast.

One year, Theseus, the greatest of the Greek heroes, said he would go to Crete and fight the monster. "Let me go as one of the victims," he said to his father Aegeus. "I'll kill the Minotaur and free Greece from this peril." Aegeus was unsure. He remembered how others had promised to slay the beast and had ended up dead. But Theseus insisted. Soon his ship was rigged with black sails, which was the custom when Greeks were sailing to meet their doom. "Watch out when I return," said Theseus. "I will hoist white sails to show that I've succeeded."

Theseus' ship arrived at the harbour of Knossos, near the palace of King Minos of Crete. The king's daughter, Ariadne, saw the ship. Soon the Greek hero and the beautiful Cretan girl were talking, and, before they knew it, the pair were in love. When Theseus told Ariadne that he was going to kill the Minotaur, she decided she would help him. She knew that even a hero would get lost in the winding passages of the labyrinth. So she gave him a ball of thread. "Unwind it as you go in, then you will be able to find your way out again by following the thread," she explained. So Theseus entered the dark, winding labyrinth, undoing the thread as he went.

Soon he heard the bellowing beast, and as he walked on, the roars got louder and louder, until Theseus was at the centre of the maze and face to face with the monster. Now the hero could see the glint in the beast's eyes. He could hear the rumble of its breathing. He could even feel the warmth of his breath as the creature crouched in its lair. Theseus paused, waiting for the best moment to attack. As the creature turned his back, Theseus sprang, plunging his sword into the beast's flesh. The Minotaur gave out one last bellow, and breathed its last. Theseus found his way out of the maze using Ariadne's thread and sailed quickly back to Greece to tell his father that he had succeeded. But Theseus was so excited that he forgot to hoist his white sails. When Aegeus saw his son's ship rigged with the black sails he feared the worst. The old man, despairing, flung himself from the cliff into the seas, and perished beneath the waves. Theseus had won his victory but lost his father, and was sad at heart for many a long year.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A great Island with lots to do
  • Cons:You need a few weeks and a car to see everything
  • Last visit to Crete Island: Jul 2008
  • Intro Updated Oct 17, 2011
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Reviews (85)

Travelogues (1)

Comments (22)

  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Great Crete tips.
    Happy Birthday and Cheers!

  • kat-m's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2011 at 5:52 AM

    Hi, just back from another fab week on crete, any plans to back?

  • unaS's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Great tips! Very helpful. Especially appreciate the details on day trips and travel by bus. Thanks! LOL - you *tried* to drink Soumadha...should I save the money?

  • Aug 23, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    wlasciciel to cham, gbur i prostak, przy zdawaniu auta o malo nie do szlo do bojki, radze dokladnie uwazac jakie auto odbieracie i za co placicie, jedyny plus ze ma taniej niz obok

  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo
    Apr 29, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    Faaaabulous pages, I really enjoyed the aquarium video xx

  • sihi's Profile Photo
    Apr 29, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    This place looks beautiful. Brilliant page!!:)

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    Nice page.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2009 at 12:14 AM

    Grazie for great photos/detail - fascinating "gestures" - 1st time I ever heard of buying a ticket to enter a church! Carol <(•¿•)>

  • evona's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    Interesting page with beautiful pics :)

  • Andrew_W_K's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2009 at 2:51 AM

    I avoided Iraklion on both my previous visits to Crete. Reading your tips I wish I hadn't now!

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