How to Make Ancient Crete into a Disneyland
Tips for planning the perfect archaeological excursion with children.
If you want to lead your child and initiate it into the magic of ancient civilizations, your child has to learn that a tourist child attraction is not just Disneyland. Do you want to visit with your child an archaeological site, take an excursion that will be enjoyable and instructive? Here are some tips for the perfect archaeological excursion.
Prepare yourself. Buy your child a book related in archeology before visiting the place; a good idea is also a book of mythology. There are some great books with fun games related to the labyrinth of Knossos! Make your children dream about it.
Think a different program depending on age. Children under five years old will not understand many of the ruins (this does not mean that they will enjoy the ride…). But after the age of six, every exploration is a mystery and intrigues. When children are over the age of 13 they are not going to “follow” because simply they are no longer children, but teens who want to get their distances from the family – although you never know: the clay masks from the rituals of lashes in small archaeological Museum of Cretan island can spur their attention! Also, just like adults, children have different tastes depending on personality or gender. The ancient city of Knossos, and the mythical Minotaur is a wonderful proposal, while your ten year old daughter will be impressed with the remnants of the Phaistos princess costume in southern Crete.
Go for the brown signs! An archaeological visit is not just a stroll into a large and organized space. In Greece, there are hundreds of small sites (often at great sites), that the local tax authority has signaled to these characteristic brown signs. Yes, of course the proposal of Knossos and Phaistos is unsurpassed, but if you make a tour by a rental car, you should be spontaneous and try to follow the small roads that show you the tags. Some arched bridge or maybe a grassy tomb might be waiting for you at the end of the route…
Do not overestimate the strengths of children. In Knossos, during afternoons in August the thermometer reaches 45 ° C and has an incredible queue outside the throne room. You may be willing to endure the burning sun, but your children might not be ready to make so many sacrifices for the Minoan civilization…
Focus on other issues. If your child asks a lot of questions related to the archaeological site, encourage her/him to talk to a guard. Sometimes the guards can give you a completely different picture. Buy something before leaving the place: a postcard, a small booklet. Most are quite expensive, but your child will have a lively memento of the visit.
Let children guide you – enthusiasm may prove most exciting. The archeological Museum in Heraklion Crete with the oldest specimen of the world will surely excite their imagination. Ask them to describe how they believe that people lived then. Their descriptions will surely make you see the monument from a different point of view!
About The Author:
Ioannis Kastrinakis is client representative at Cretarent, a well known car rental company in Crete.