The Greek islands are a great place to spend a summer family holiday. But as well as having some really beautiful beaches to spend time on, there is a lot of history, legend and culture attached to these islands.
For example, Crete was once the centre of the Minoan civilisations – one of the earliest recorded civilisations in Europe. While holidaying there, you can visit the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, which was the centre of the Minoan kingdom. It is now the largest archaeological site on Crete. According to legend, the palace was designed to be impossible for anyone placed within it to ever find their way out and King Minos kept the hideous bull beast the Minotaur in the basement. The king imprisoned the architect so he wouldn’t reveal the plans for the palace to anyone. The architect Daedalus and his son managed to escape by creating two pairs of wings from birds’ feathers and wax. However Icaros ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he plunged to his death. His father avenged his death by giving the palace plans to King Theseus of Athens who went to crete and killed the Minotaur. You can take a tour of the ruins of the palace and it’s quite easy to imagine what a complex mass of tunnels and corridors it used to be.
Another island connected to myth and legend is Cyprus, which is said to be the birthplace of the goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite. The town associated with her birth is the town of Limassol and not far from here you can find Aphrodite’s Rock – the place she was said to have been brought ashore in an oyster shell, as immortalised by Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus – Aphrodite’s Roman name. You can even stay in the Aphrodite Hotel while on the island!
Of course, these are just two examples of places we can visit today that are linked to Greek mythology. If you really enjoy Greek history, you could plan a whole trip around your favourite myths and legends.