This evocative city will provide a perfect setting for resting up after your overseas journey, and an exciting beginning to your adventure in Crete. We will stay in a wonderful seaside hotel which affords all the amenities and fantastic views of the magnificent harbour.You will have plenty of time to wander the narrow streets of the Venetian quarter and sample the many promenade cafes and roofless Venetian buildings which have been turned into gracious outdoor restaurants.
A morning tour will acquaint you with its history and architecture.This specially designed tour around the old town and Venetian port will reveal Chania's status as a cultural crossroads. Our walk will allow you to visit the most important sites, such as the Venetian fortifications, the Arsenals, the 1860 Greek Orthodox cathedral, the 1879 Roman Catholic cathedral, the Etz Hayyim Synagogue, and the Turkish quarters behind the inner harbour. The tour will also bring out plenty of hidden spots off the beaten track, which reflect the mix of influences that has given Chania its very unique atmosphere.
A walk through time, the tour promises to help you gain an understanding of how the city's multilayered history has unfolded. While it has been well researched and planned, it is designed to be informal and "loosely"organized to allow for flexibilities that can add to your pleasure.
The Capital of Minoan Crete
A day for you to get an inside view of Cretan culture and history with the exploration of the ruins of Knossos Palace. The palace is one of the major must-see archaeological sites in Greece, presenting visitors with a rare glimpse into Minoan civilization. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, qualified archaeology guide who will offer in depth personal attention, you will browse through the restored palace. By examining the structures the Minoans lived in, you will have the best avenue for piecing together the threads of this great civilization.
Marvel at the artistic, architectural, and engineering feats of this advanced civilization that existed in Europe at the time of the great Pharaohs of Egypt. Copies of Minoan frescoes help infuse the site with the artistic spirit of these remarkable people.
HERAKLION ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
We will drive to Heraklion where you can enjoy a special lunch, and then visit the Archaeological Museum with our guide for a look at some of the artefacts from Knossos and other sites. This outstanding museum houses an impressive array of Minoan artefacts including pottery, jewellery, and sarcophagi as well as several important frescoes from Knossos. End your day with some time at leisure to stroll around Heraklion's historical center.
Margarites is a small mountain village located 30 km southeast from Rethymnon in the centre of the island of Crete. Ed Bamiling, a Canadian ceramist, wrote the following about his first approach to Margarites: "Picturesque? All the ingredients are there - narrow, winding streets, old buildings slumping gracefully with the patina of age and color, bougainvillea draped from balconies, inviting tavernas, goat bells clanging in the distance, grape arbors, fig trees, curious villagers, mountains in the background and rolling hills covered in olive groves stretching toward the Mediterranean, just visible in the distance."
Many of the families living in this village are involved in the making, firing, and distribution of pottery. The pots here are made using techniques dating back thousands of years. There is a Museum of Ceramics in the village square, which displays local ceramic artefacts. Traditional and modern techniques coexist in perfect harmony in the 16 pottery workshops.
We will spend several days in this area, observing and working with the local potters. Join the hands-on experience with the local clay and work with Greek ceramist Giorgos Dalamvelas in Margarites. We will be welcomed royally by this talented and gracious local artist. His studio is a wonderful heritage building with working spaces, terraces, and relaxation areas. Enjoy the local artists and friends who stop by for coffee and conversation. Giorgos has learned the local earthenware tradition and now chooses to interpret the landscape, history and life of this region in his work. We will follow him along with his process of creation and develop our own pieces. This studio experience is a truly unique opportunity for participants. Denys James will be working also and demonstrate his unique methods and share his inspiration with the group. In addition to being able to experience the pottery process in an ancient culture, visitations to other potters provide us with a rare opportunity to interact with the people and their daily lives in a way that is impossible for the average tourist. We will have an interpreter with us and participants are encouraged to communicate directly with the potters and their families. They are also very interested in the way we work with clay in our countries, and the sharing that occurs is a special cross-cultural experience. Optional activities can be arranged for those not wanting to participate in a hands-on studio experience.
Margarites will be our base for day trips to other regions of Crete as well as for short walks and journeys to local historical, scenic and archaeological sites.
The village, which has several remains from older eras, especially extraordinary Cretan village architecture and lovely narrow winding streets, is well worth exploring. Strolling around this charming village one can see ornate doors and walls dating from the Venetian era. There ane plenty of cafés to relax in, to try a Greek coffee, or a traditional Cretan lunch while enjoying the magnificent view.
There are several ancient churches of interest in Margarites and the surrounding area. The church of Agios Georgios (St George's Church) dates from the early 14th century, Agios Ioannis (St John)Theologos Church has frescoes from 1383.
ACCOMMODATION Our group will inhabit the entire historic Kouriton House. The House of Kourites is an authentic stone built lodging, dating back to 1750. Restored with respect to its history, the house is located in an unparalleled natural setting, blended with historical and cultural heritage. This hospitable house is suited for small gatherings and a meeting point with the tradition, culture and agriculture of Crete.
It has been preserved for its traditional architectural structure, typical of the Cretan design stemming from prehistoric Minoan mansions. The architectural morphology has been preserved in elements such as: The old stove, the carving on a rock reservoir, the stone basins and parapets, the wooden lofts, the clay chimneys and the unique stands along with their ancient jars. It is a renovated traditional rural mansion, and each room has its own bathroom and w/c.
The house was built according to the post Byzantine Cretan house that has its roots in the prehistoric type of the Minoan Palace. The main entrance leads one into the oven house and the ground floor, where we can find very old jars that were used to keep fruit, wine and olive oil. There is a sitting room and many bedrooms with fireplaces. The interior ladder and the external stone built stairs lead onto the upstairs area. One can describe the house as plain, but there are details that make it magnificent, like the windows and the doors, the clay chimneys and the flagstone paths. In the yard there are old Cretan benchs under the vine-arbour and the apricot and olive trees.
Eleftherna, a Dorian and later Roman settlement, is 5 km from the village of Margarites. We will enjoy a walking tour through fields, along a brook and via a gorge filled with pine trees. This historic site is spectacular and surrounded by hills and gorges. Eleftherna is the most important archaeological site in Rethymno and one of the most interesting current excavations being conducted by the Archaeological section of the University of Crete. Inhabited from the ancient years until the Byzantine era, it is the only site in Crete that can give valuable information to archaeologists as to how a settlement developed over the years. One can see the ruins of dwelling complexes, sanctuaries, cemeteries, ancient walls, an aqueduct, huge cisterns, bridges and an early Christian basilica. Eleftherna is not yet an organized archaeological site. We will have an archaeology expert with us.
The functioning Arkadi Monastery is an attractive complex of buildings, gardens and a museum. Originally built in the 14th century and re-built in the 16th century, it is located a short drive away from Margarites. The most impressive building in the complex is the Venetian baroque church. Its striking façade has eight slender Corinthian columns and is topped by an ornate triple -belled tower. Inside, one is pleasantly surprised by a richly decorated Renaissance façade, dating from 1587.
Our group will visit the most famous pottery studio and enjoy demonstrations and tours of the process and kilns. You will have a chance to speak with the potters through our interpreter. The following is a Greek writers' description of the pottery of Thrapsano: "Thrapsano is a village located 28 km south of the Minoan ruins of Knossos. The primary characteristic of this village is the reputation that it has for the creation of big jars called "pitharia". All references about Thrapsano in historical documents are accompanied by reports about the pottery. Talking to the potters of Thrapsano you will understand at once their thoughts about pottery. They believe that their job is not a regular one, but they serve the art of pottery delivered to them by their ancestors. From father to son and so on, they are continuing this great art, and they are pervaded by the feeling that this trail of knowledge reaches the Minoan era. Observing the materials, the firing, the forms and the technique of the manufacture, you feel that this unique art has passed through centuries without radical changes. The pottery art of Minoans and especially the pieces found in the palace of Knossos were always a source of inspiration for the potters. No one can escape this sensation during the visit to the palace, and no one knows this more than the potters who feel their hands have followed the path from Minoan potters to the present"
Rethymnon maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with buildings dating from the 16th century and Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains. It is a mixture of Venetian and Turkish influences, dominated by a Venetian fortress. Significant buildings are renovated and house the archaeological museum, municipality services offices and restaurants. The big municipal gardens are ideal for those in search of shade and tranquility. The long sandy beach with a palm-lined promenade completes this beautiful place. We will spend an afternoon exploring this city, and finish the day off dining in a fish taverna in the historic Venetian harbour.
Accommodation in harbour side hotel in Chania (double occupancy) 4 nights Accommodation in restored traditional Cretan house in Margarites (double occupancy) 11 nights Breakfasts (11) in Margarites Buffet Breakfasts (4) in Chania Dinners.(2) Lunches.(2) An evening of traditional Cretan music and dance Transfers from Chania airport to hotel, and hotel to airport in Chania (Additional charges will apply for transfers from Heraklion to Chania) Transport in first-class minivan Guided walking tour of the important historical and architectural sites in Chania Visit to the historical center of Rethymno. On-board professional ceramic artist and tour leader Special professionally guided tours to the ancient Minoan site of Knossos Guided tour of the Minoan collection in Heraklion museum Guided walking tour of the ancient site of Elftherna Visits to potteries in Margarites and Thrapsano Day trip to the historic Moni Arkadi monastery and other mountain sites Hands –on pottery instruction and experience with Giorgos Dalamvelas and Denys James. Studio, clay, materials and firing
If you must cancel, the following cancellation fees will apply:
April 1- May 1
May 1- July 31
August 1-August 15
August 16-September 15
September 15-October 8
Deposit of $200
Deposit plus 20% of the invoice total
Deposit plus 40% of the invoice total
Deposit plus 60% of the invoice total
There is no refund for arriving late or leaving the trip early.
Discovery Art Travel reserves the right to cancel the trip due to low enrolment, or if we feel that the quality of the trip or the safety of travelers would be compromised. In such a case, we will refund all payments received to date, which constitutes full settlement.
A Travel B Travel October 8 Day 1 Arrive Chania, check in to hotel, welcoming drink Day 2 Chania special guided city walking tour focusing on the history, art and architecture of this fascinating Venetian port city. Special dinner. Day 3 Chania free day. Day 4 Transfer to Margarites.Visit to Aptera ancient site, Visit to famous pottery studio. Lunch in traditional mountaintop taverna Check in to our local Cretan accommodation Orientation, meet our local potter Giorgos in his studio Day 5 Margarites visit to studios ( Kavgalakis and Konstantinos) Day 6 Studio in morning, afternoon visit to archeological sites (Ancient Elftherna) in region, walking (herbs) Day 7 Day trip to the Minoan site of Knossos, guided tour of the site and guided tour of Minoan artifacts in the Archelogical museum in Heraklion. Day 8 Studio in morning,optional free afternoon in Margarites area Day 9 Studio work Margarites in morning, visit to other studio(s) afternoon Day 10 Free morning and/or studio time,afternoon trip to Rethymno seaside dinner in a famous fish taverna in the old harbour. Day 11 Day trip to the large storage jar pottery village of Thrapsano. Lunch and walking in the wonderful small Cretan town of Archanes. Day 12 Studio and local walking Day 13 Preparation and firing of traditional wood fired kiln. (weather permitting) Day 14 Final day in Margarites, unloading kiln. Day 15 Transfer to Chania via Moni Arkadi monastery( free afternoon) Special final dinner in Venetian harbour taverna October 23 Day 16 Return travel from Crete OR optional extended stay options
The following activities may be available, please contact us if you are interested in any post-excursion tours or workshops.
Cretan Villages and Countryside
Short Day Tour
Driving towards the Akrotiri peninsula, we will visit the monastery of Agia Triada Tzagarolon. Built in the 17th century, with a majestic cruciform church, it is set on a wonderfully overgrown landscape of olive groves and cypress trees. Continuing our drive towards the picturesque province of Apokoronas, we will stop at the archaeological site of Aptera, in an impressive position on a plateau with a panoramic view of the Souda Gulf. We will explore the extensive ruins of the ancient city, before continuing on to the tiny village of Maheri, a typical, unspoilt Cretan village where we will stop for refreshments. The tour will then take us further inland and we will visit the Byzantine chapel of Agios Nikolaos in Kyriakoselia, known for its remarkable frescoes. A scenic drive will follow along the foot of the White Mountains, taking us to Zourva, for a delicious Cretan meal at a family-run taverna – located on a privileged vista point overlooking the surrounding mountains and the valley beyond. On our way back to Chania we will drive through the historic village of Therisso and its gorge.
The Samaria Gorge at its best
Long Day Tour,
incl.+ /- 6 hours hiking Enjoy a guided 16km hike through the longest and most impressive of Europe’s limestone gorges, a magnificent example of Crete’s many gorges, from the White Mountains down to the Libyan sea. We leave early in the morning and passing through several beautiful villages we reach the plateau of Omalos. Our hike will last approximately 6 hours and will take us - along a breathtaking and constantly changing landscape - down to Agia Roumeli, a fishing village by the South coast, accessible only by boat. The tour will allow you a chance to experience this must-see natural phenomenon at a slower pace, attended to by a specialized guide. At the base of the gorge you can enjoy a refreshing swim, as well as lunch at one of the local tavernas. After an hour’s sail to the nearby port, you will be transferred back to Chania.
Tastes of Crete, hands-on cooking
Short Day Tour
A fun gathering to provide you with a deeply individual Cretan experience and many laughs. Tastes of Crete is a hands-on journey through Crete’s culinary traditions for food lovers and cooking enthusiasts. An insight into regional cuisine, a key element of the island’s culture, this creative activity highlights the simple, seasonal foods of Crete. Friendly and informal, it features hands-on instruction, delicious home-cooked food, along with wine and cheese tasting. The activity is hosted in an 18th century farmhouse surrounded by organic gardens, just a short drive from Chania. The location has been selected for its character and ambience, which makes for a perfect backdrop. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, guests discover how to prepare a number of Cretan dishes under the directions of a local cook. Those who prefer to take a less active role may choose to just relax and appreciate the atmosphere. Our fun experience culminates at the table, where together, drinking Cretan wines, we will enjoy the food and the company.
We can arrange a rental car and you can set out to explore the farther reaches of this wonderful island.
We can help you arrange an itinerary that allows you the freedom to discover other Greek Islands by ferry or plane.
Spend a few days visiting ancient sites and museums and savoring fine cuisine in Greece's historic capital. We can suggest hotels and itineraries.