We berthed in the Port of Heraklion this morning at 8am. The forecast was for clear blue skies and 30 degrees.
Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete – it has a population of about 100,000. Crete is the largest Greek Island and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean.
As with a lot of European countries, Crete has been conquered and ruled by many. At the beginning of the 20th century Crete obtained independence and in 1913 was united with Greece. The last occupation of Crete was by the Germans in 1941 and the island was finally liberated in 1944.
Under the leadership of the great King Minos, who was simultaneously administrator, legislator, cheif of Cretan religion and sovereign of the sea, Minoan Cretans traversed the Mediterranean from north to south and east to west and maintained friendly and commercial relations with other civilised states of the East and especially Egypt. This time of peace provided the opportunity for successful development of the arts, and the excavations have furnished ample proof of the genius and artistic taste of the people.
Crete has always held a place of affection in the minds of students of Greek mythology. Especially popular is the story of Theseus and the Minotour of Crete the fabulous monster with the body of a man and the head of a bull. The Minotour was supposed to be the offspring of Pasiphae, wife of Minos, son of Zeus, and a snow-white bull which Poseidon had sent his nephew Minos for sacrifice. Minos spared the bull and Poseidon as a punishment, inspired his wife with an unnatural passion for it. The monster was shut up in a labyrinth.
When Androgeus, son of Minos, was killed by the Athenians who were jealous of his victories in the Panathenaic festival, Minos demanded that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens be sent every year to be devoured by the monster. On one occasion, Theseus volunteered to go ad with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne, who provided him with a ball of thread to trace his way out of the labyrinth, slew the Minotuor. His return to Greece was awaited anxiously by his father Aegeus, who on seeing the ship carrying the black sails – Theseus had forgotten to change them to white if he was successful – threw himself to his death from the cliff top of Cape Sounion.