Thursday, 6 March 2014

Enjoy the quieter side of Malia... with your dog

Iris and white poppies at Malia
You might notice that this post about exploring the area around the Minoan Palace of Malia with your dog is actually completely dogless. I have come to Malia for a work trip, and have left Sage with instructions to continue exploring and blogging about her experiences being a traveling dog in Cyprus. I did stash a couple of dog biscuits in my pocket before setting out on this walk, hoping to coax the excavation dog into joining me, but she is a free-spirit and was off somewhere else.

I did find some evidence that dogs had enjoyed this walk, not too long before I got there...

If you find yourself in the area of Malia, with or without a dog, and feel like escaping the tourist strip, head off in the direction of Agios Nikolaos and take the turning for the Palace of Malia, which you'll come to after just a couple of minutes driving. There is a parking area just outside the gates to the site.
Road by Palace of Malia

The road curves around the site, next to the sea. You will pass by Quartier Mu - a part of the Minoan town contemporary with the first of the Bronze Age Palaces at the site. From outside the fence you have a good general view of this section of the site, which is extremely well-preserved. The buildings are constructed from mud brick, which survives to heights of a couple of metres - enough to give a real sense of how the town would have appeared. A modern shelter protects the site from above.
Quartier Mu, Malia, view from the road
On your right just beyond Quartier Mu are several turnings and a network of small footpaths. This is a great place to let your dog have a run around - and I missed my girl while exploring there by myself. To the left (West) these paths lead round to some small beaches, to the right you get to the Minoan Cemetery, straight on is the sea and behind are the mountains... perfect!
View from behind the Palace of Malia towards Lasithi Plateau

I found my way along by the coast on small footpaths, enjoying the huge range of Spring wild flowers - irises, white poppies, bermuda buttercups (Oxalis) and many more. It's a truly lovely time of year to be in Crete. My photos were taken in the early evening after the buttercups had closed;  during the day the flowers open and there is a sea of bright yellow and green.


The Chrysolakkos Necropolis is quite visible from outside the perimeter fence. This necropolis is also contemporary with the first palace and Quartier Mu (the so-called Protopalatial period). This was a monumental stone tomb, resembling a house in style and structure, with a grand facade of large worked stones. The finds from here were also particularly special, including the gold 'bee' pendant which is used as a sort of logo for the Malia area. 

Although this site is not very well preserved, there is a useful information board that provides a plan of the building and a brief summary of the construction, use and excavation of the site. Despite the fact that little remains here, especially in comparison with the amazing buildings in the Palace complex, it's really fun to wander the coast and enjoy the scenery of this area, and to stumble across hidden-away Minoan sites. 
Chrysolakkos Necropolis

Chrysolakkos Necropolis
Information board visible from outside the Necropolis

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