If you are in Heraklion, you must visit the archaeological site of Knossos, preferably not with a tour group so that you can take your time. It is 3800 years old, part of the flourishing Minoan Civilization known for its palaces all over the island. Legend has it that Theseus, the son of the king of Athens, came in person to defeat the Minotaur. For a long time King Minos had exacted tribute from Athens of 7 maids and 7 youths, who were invariably sacrificed to the Minotaur. With the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne, who strung a thread so they could get out of the labyrinth, Theseus killed the Minotaur. He left triumphant, then dumped Ariadne on an island (men!). He had promised his father, the king, that when he returned (if alive) he would have the sail the changed to white, but he forgot and King Aegeus supposedly jumped to his death in sorrow from what is now Cape Sounio.
The Minoans were a seafaring people who depicted youths, bulls, ladies with coiffed hair that got some of them dubbed Les Parisiennes. The site was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in the early 20th C. who as you'll see, got a little carried away with his restoration, but the original frescoes are in the Archaeological Museum. Their writing, Linear A, has never been deciphered, and many scholars believe the civilization was a matriarchy, since there are two thrones that appear to be made for a queen and extensive queen's rooms in the central courtyard area.ini