Episode 3: Crete & The Eastern Islands

Filmed on location in: Crete & Eastern Islands of Greece

This episode brings us to the southern and eastern fringes of the Aegean Sea, where lie some of Greece’s largest islands. These islands seem remote today, but once they stood at the center of human innovation. Many of the values of Greek and western civilization were first born and nurtured here. Crete, Samos, Chios, Rhodes and the Dodecanese.  Places of spellbinding beauty and priceless heritage.

The episode begins in Rhodes, largest of the Dodecanese. The medieval walled city of Rhodes was once home to the famous Colossus, the inspiration for a city in Game of Thrones. Then there’s the stunning Palace of the Grand Masters, built by an order of medieval warrior monks, and the hilltop ruin where Gregory Peck and Roger Moore made movies. 

Symi Island in the Dodecanese is a magnet for jet setters and celebrities and also the location where on May 8th, 1945 the Nazis surrendered to the Allies, marking the end of World War 2 in Greece. Moving on to Kos, the episode explores the Asclepeion, an ancient medical school and birthplace of the Hippocratic Oath.  Close by is the tranquil island of Nisyros, that could erupt anytime into chaos and destruction. 

Largest of all the islands is Crete, home to the ancient Minoan civilization. The Minoan capital Knossos was a major center of trade, and we reveal its labyrinthine ruins. No surprise that this is where the dramatic legend of the Minotaur and the labyrinth originated over 3,000 years ago. Crete’s history since then has been no less dramatic, right up to the invasion by German paratroopers during World War 2.

Crete is also famous for its stunning gorges and pristine beaches, among them Matala beach. In the 1960s it became an iconic hippie destination and was home to songstress Joni Mitchell. Then there’s Elafonisi beach with its pink sands, and the turquoise Lagoon of Balos, which Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited on their honeymoon. Most renowned of all is Starvos Beach, where the box office smash Zorba the Greek had its finale. As dancers perform the sirtaki, made famous by the film, the episode reaches its conclusion.

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