Architecture in Crete

'The view on the Basilica of Arkadi Monastery from its surrounding gallery, Crete.' - Crete
'The view on the Basilica of Arkadi Monastery from its surrounding gallery, Crete.' eFesenko / Shutterstock

While most tourists travel to Athens to see ancient architecture, it is not the only site at which one can find magnificent Greek ruins. History abounds on the Greek island of Crete, which is home to a multitude of ancient ruins. These included huge fortresses, palaces, castles, churches and monasteries. While there are dozens of fascinating ruins worth exploring, you won't want to miss the following Cretian landmarks:

Minoan Palace

Part of a massive Bronze Age archaeological site, the Minoan Palace sits on what was once the center of a formidable civilization. Believed to have been originally built around 1700 B.C, the site was excavated at the end of the 19th Century. The columns at the Knossos Minoan Palace are notable for their unique construction.

Venetian Fortezza

Commissioned by the Venetians and built by the Cretes between 1573 and 1580, this massive fortress includes a partially restored mosque and a Greek Orthodox chapel. Perhaps even more impressive than the fortress itself is the panoramic view seen from its high walls.

Arkadi Monastery

The design of the Arkadi Monastery was heavily influenced by the Renaissance period. The combination of Baroque and Roman styles is especially present in Gothic obelisks, Corinthian columns and archways of the basilica church. Other impressive structures found in the sacred monastery of Arkadi include a powder magazine, refectory, hospice and a memorial for the dead.


The castle in this small village is one of the most intact of the Cretian ruins. Built by the Venetians in 1371, the castle was originally named 'The Castle of St. Nikitas.' The locals gave it their own nickname: Frangokastello, or castle of the Franks. At the time, 'Frank' was a derisive term for Catholic foreigner. The castle is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and rests adjacent to an expansive beach.