Museums & sights

Overview of museums, monasteries and archaeological sites in Crete

Museums

Archaeological Museum in Chania
Address and opening hours:
Halidon 30, Chania
Tuesday to Sunday - 8am to 4.30pm

In the Venetian church of San Francisco from the 16th century you'll find this museum with archaeological collections from western Crete. From Stone Age to the Roman period.


Contemporary Art Museum of Crete
Address and opening hours:
5, Heimaras Str. 741 00 Rethymnon

Museum of Contemporary Art has a permanent exhibition of works by Lefteris Kanakakis (1934-1985), a famous Cretan painter born in Rethymnon. In addition, a wide selection of works by contemporary Greek artists from around 1950 to today.


El Greco Museum
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
'Archontika' Skoteini near the Byzantine church of Panagia.
Open daily from 1.4. to 30.10., 9am -7pm.

The museum is housed in a renovated post-Byzantine building just outside the village of Fodele. Near the museum is a beautiful little Byzantine church. The museum tells of El Greco's life and art and exhibits reproductions of his works. There is a cafeteria at a small courtyard in front of the museum entrance.


Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymnon
Address and opening hours:
Vernardou 28-30, Rethymnon
Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 2.30pm

The museum gives a good insight into rural life in Crete in the old days. There are collections of handicrafts and farm tools. English signs and a well organized exhibition.


Rethymnon Archaeological Museum
Address and opening hours:
The pentagonal bastion opposite the main gate of the Fortezza
Open daily from 8.30am–3pm. Monday closed

The exhibit includes artefacts from the prefecture of Rethymnon in chronological order and by excavation site. Minoan pottery, Neolithic tools and Mycenaean figurines. The old Turkish building itself is also interesting. Once it was a prison.


Historical Museum of Crete
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Lysimahou Kalokerinou 7, Heraklion
April to October: Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm
November to March: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 3pm

Exhibits from the Byzantine and Turkish periods. Frescoes from the 13th century, coins, jewellery, pottery. The museum has an 'El Greco' painting from the 16th century. Also there is a reconstruction of the study of the Greek writer and philosopher, Nikos Kazantzakis.


Historical museum of Gavalochori
Address and opening hours:
Gavalohori Apokoronou, 730 08 Chania
Monday to Friday: 9am to 8pm, Saturday: 9am to 7pm
Sunday: 10am to 1.30pm and 5pm to 8pm

The museum itself is a traditional Cretan building. The exhibition is divided into 7 parts: Silk Production, ceramics, lace, stone work and wood carvings and a part that covers the Cretans uprisings against the Ottoman rule in Crete.


Battle of Crete Museum
Address and opening hours:
Corner of Doukos Beaufort and Hatzidaki, Heraklion
Daily: 9am to 1pm

The museum tells the story of one of the most important historical battles during WWII through a series of photographs and military artefacts. The Battle of Crete 1941 began with Nazi German attacks by air, that were met with strong civilian resistance.


Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum
Address and opening hours:
Limin Hersonisou 70014 Hersonissos
Daily except Satyrdays 9am - 2pm

Lychnostatis is an outdoor museum that focuses on Cretan folklore and ethnology, nature and environment from pre-industrial Crete in the 19. and 20. century. Reconstructions of traditional houses, agricultural implements, a ceramics workshop, an olive mill, farm gardens and there is an open-air theater.


Museum of Aghios Nikolaos
Address and opening hours:
74 Konstantinou Palaiologou Str., Τ.Κ. 72100, Agios Nikolaos
Daily except Mondays 8.30am to 7.30pm (winter: 3pm)

It is a small museum with artifacts from throughout Eastern Crete. The museum has exhibits covering the Minoan period, Greek and Roman periods. This includes a very large collection of vases.


Natural History Museum of Crete
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Sofokli Venizelou Avenue, 71409 Heraklion
Tuesday - Sunday: 10am to 7pm (closed Monday)

The Natural History Museum of Crete is part of the University of Crete. It presents the Cretan ecosystems that are among the richest in the world. The museum has an experience center with interactive, child-friendly activities.


Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
The village of Myrtia
March - October: Daily: 9 to 5pm
November - February: Sundays from 10am to 3pm

The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, Crete is located in the village of Myrtia, 15 kilometres south of Heraklion. The Museum holds manuscripts and notes by the author, samples of his correspondence, first editions of his works in Greek and other languages, photographic material and souvenirs from his travels, personal effects, material from theatre productions of his works, portraits and sculptures of the author.


The Byzantine Collection
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Church of San Salvatore, 82 Theotokopoulou Street, Old Town
Mondays: 1pm to 7.30pm, Tuesday-Sunday: 8.30am to 7.30pm

In the old Venetian church of San Salvatore is a fine collection of Byzantine art. The exhibited sculptures, frescoes, icons, coins, jewelry and pottery are from the long period when Crete was part of the Eastern Roman Empire.


The Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Xanthoudidou 2, 71202 Heraklion
Monday: 1pm -7.30pm, Tuesday-Friday: 8am-7.30pm
Between 1. November and 31. March, 8:30am-3pm

Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of Europe's most important museums, due largely to the Minoan collection, the world's largest. The museum exhibits archeological artifacts from 5.500 years of Cretan history.
Attention! Since 2006 the museum has been undergoing renovations. It is expected to reopen in spring 2012. Until then, only a small collection of the most important items are available.


The Heraklion Museum of Visual Arts
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
3 Nymphon Str.,Heraklion
Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm

The museum aims to be a venue for artists and art lovers. There are changing exhibitions from different collections of Greek contemporary art. Seminars, conferences and concerts.


The Museum of Cretan Ethnology
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Voroi Pirgiotissis, 70200, Heraklion, Crete
Daily: 10am to 6pm

The museum focuses on the Cretan Ethnology through more than 3.000 years. The exhibition is divided into 7 parts which deal with food, architecture, transportation, customs and traditions, social organization, weaving and production. The museum operates a research center for exploring the human impact on ecosystems of Crete.


The Nautical Museum in Chania
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
Akti Kountourioti GR 731 36 Chania
Daily: 9am to 2pm (1.11 - 31.03)
Daily: 9am to 4pm (1.4 - 31.10)

The museum is located at the old port of Chania. The exhibition includes ship models, nautical instruments, paintings and photographs. Altogether more than 2.500 objects divided into 13 chronological parts, covering the maritime history of Crete.


The War Museum in Chania
Homepage
Address and opening hours:
At the Municipal Gardens at the corner of I. Sfakianaki and Tzanakaki
Tuesday to Saturday: 9am - 1pm

The museum contains mainly objects from the period 1821 to 1945. The cover story of the last major acts of war, such as Greece and Crete has been involved in. The Greek war of liberation, the Macedonian wars, campaigns in Asia Minor, WWI and WWII.


Read aboutSee also: Rethymnon. Sights and museums

Read aboutSee also: Chania. Sights and museums

Read aboutSee also: Heraklion. Sights and museums



Monasteries

Vrontisiou monastery
The monastery dates from the early Byzantine era. It is mentioned in writings from 1323. It is situated with a magnificent view over the Messara plain and the Libyan sea between the villages of Zaros and Vorizia. The church dedicated to St. Antony. The monastery was in the Venetian time an important center for contemporary artists and supposedly both Michaelis Damaskinos and El Greco have been here.


Varsamonerou monastery
The monastery is situated outside the village of Voriza some 50 km south of Heraklion. The monastery was abandoned already in early 1700s and is today partly in ruins. But the church has some of the most remarkable frescoes in Crete.


Epanofisis monastery
About 30 km from Heraklion is the Epanofisis monastery, one of the largest monasteries in Crete. It is famous for its celebrations in honor of Saint George (3.4 and 23.11), where farmers from the neighborhood comes bearing gifts in the form of lamb and local cheese. There is a museum in the monastery.


Gorgolaini monastery
Near the village Asites at the foot of Psiloritis lies Gorgolaini monastery. The buildings are from the Venetian period, but the monastery is mentioned way back in the 13th Century. The church from 1627 is dedicated to St. George. The courtyard is shadowed by large trees, some of which are protected because of their size and beauty.


Hryssoskalitissa monastery
Close to Elafonisi island at the southwestern corner of Crete lies the monastery, whose name means 'golden step'. To get to the monastery, located high above on a cliff one must take the 98 steps of the carved staircase leading to the place. According to tradition, the last step was made of gold, which only the faithful could see. Hence the monastery's name. It is possible to stay overnight at the monastery, if there are vacant monk cells to stay in.


Panagia Kaliviani monastery
This monastery is located approx. 60 km from Heraklion road to Phaistos. There is a small Byzantine chapel with frescoes, but in poor condition. The present church was built in 1911 and the monastery also houses a home for orphaned girls established in 1958.

Archaeological excavations

Phaistos
The Palace of Phaistos lies on the Messara plain south of Psiloritis. The area has been inhabited for approx. 6.000 years, but the palace ruins are from between 1.850 BCE to 1.400BCE. At this time the palace was probably destroyed by an earthquake. It is the second largest Minoan palace after Knossos. The ruins have not been so thoroughly reconstructed as Knossos.

In 1908 the famous Phaistos Diskos was found on site. It is a circular plate of baked clay with imprinted hieroglyphics, which has become one of the mysteries of archeology, as one can not interpret the signs. The Phaistos disc can be seen at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.