Fair Havens road trip

The island of Crete is steeped in ancient history and has seen many civilizations come and go.  The Minoans flourished here as early as 2000B.C. and they were followed by the Mycenes, Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Turks among  others, each leaving their mark of human heritage.  It was during the Roman times and the birth of Christianity that apostle Paul made an unscheduled visit here.  As a prisoner aboard a ship bound for Rome from the Middle East, he and the crew took shelter from a vicious storm on the south side of the island.

“We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus (harbor in southern Turkey).  When the (north) wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete (south side), opposite Salmone.  We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.” (Recorded by Luke in Acts 27:7,8)

Here, Paul and his companions, spent an undetermined length of time before heading out to open sea (against Pauls’ warnings) to try to winter down at a more suitable harbor just west of Fair Havens.  As we know, they never made it.  Instead, they were driven out to sea and eventually shipwrecked on the island of Malta.

And so, another road trip grew into a caravan of sorts as we were joined by a couple of other families from our church, the Barkers and the Mabies, to visit the area where St. Paul (Agios Pavlos) had landed on Crete.

Mel and Ginger - Fair Havens

The four hour drive across the island was a beautiful one and we were rewarded with amazing views over the sea.  Fair Havens isn’t much of a town or port – it’s big claim to fame is the cave that Paul supposedly took shelter in from the storm.  Not sure how they figured it was THE cave since there are hundreds of them!  Anyway, it was fun to imagine apostle Paul’s footsteps here.

Cave of St. Paul - Fair Havens

All the kids at entrance of Paul's cave (the tallest short one is mom Silvia)

After a short and somewhat disappointing visit to Fair Havens we headed out to visit a very significant and historically phenomenal site called Gortys.  A little history here:  The ruins of Gortys date much later than the Minoan palaces.  It flourished during the 6th through 1st centuries B.C. and was a leading Cretan city.   Among the ancient archeological sites like temples dedicated to various gods and deities, are the ruins of the large Roman settlement on this site.  The most significant archeological feature in Gortys is considered to be the large slabs of stone on which the oldest Greek Code of Laws is inscribed dating from 450 B.C.   (double click on photo to see detail)

Greek Code of Laws at Odeion wall

Roman amphitheater - Gortys

Other sites of particular interest included the Church of St. Titus.  On one of his missionary journeys,  Paul left Titus behind in Crete to oversee the organization of the Christian church there.  Judging by the size of the ruins alone, it must have been a grand church in its time.

Basilica of Agios Titos (St. Titus)

As our friends returned home, we decided to stay on a day and explore the ancient city of Phaestos and the sea side village of Matala.  While ancient Knossos enjoys more popularity with visitors, Phaestos is actually regarded as being equally important and certainly, more authentic, than Knossos.  On its site are the ruins of two grand palaces – the first built around 1900 B.C. and the second built around 1600 B.C.  As with other Minoan speculation, it is not fully understood what the destructive forces were behind this ancient civilization’s collapse although most scientific indicators point to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tital waves.  We were disappointed to find the site closed (election day of something random) but could see the hilltop ruins from above.

Ruins of Ancient Phaestos

Matala is a booming tourist town in the summer months – hard to believe in November!  All but deserted, we enjoyed exploring around the area including poking around in the Roman cave-tombs carved out of the cliffs.  Hard to believe the site is open to the public to tromp around on.  In fact, Matala caves made modern history when hippie travelers  like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin camped out in the caves during  the 60’s.  Creepy!  http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-east/matala-caves.htm

Caves of Roman tombs - Matala

Matala beach and village

A lot of great memories were made on this road trip but one we will always remember is the overnight digs we had in Matala.  A rooftop room with a beautiful view of the sea seemed perfect until a huge thunderstorm hit in the middle of the night.  We discovered that the roof was made of tin and as sheets of rain pelted down we had to literally yell at each other to be heard!  Not much sleep that night but funny now looking back…

More Photos From Fair Havens trip




About Melanie A Crane

Quote: "The best journeys ask questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask." (Anon) Here's my journey: Enjoying my short life on this earth one moment at a time by being intentional with God, family, traveling, cooking, gardening, Colorado living and all the perks that come with it, playing guitar, listening more and talking less. I've discovered that both cooking and travel can be messy at times but the risks can have some amazing results. The same goes for life lived with passion.
This entry was posted in Archeology and History, Crete, Road Trips, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fair Havens road trip

  1. Reg says:

    Great shots…love the history!

  2. Timothy says:

    Hey~ You really have done a great job with your blog!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s