Crete has many layers of history. It is steeped in ancient Greek mythology,
famed as the birthplace of Zeus and home to the Minoans which was a highly
developed civilisation some 4000 years ago. Crete has been appropriately
named the cradle of western culture. The palaces of Knossos, Phaistos,
and Malia, the seats of the Minoan Kings, denote the pinnacle of this intriguing
civilisation. Sites from classical Greece, Byzantium, ancient Rome, Venice
and the Ottoman period all the way through to the
Second World War. Without a doubt,
for those who enjoy history, many interesting holidays could be spent delving
into the rich history of Crete.
has such uniquely contrasting landscapes throughout its 300 km length that
there is always some vista to thrill the senses. There are vast dramatic
snow covered mountains, sandy tree lined beaches, flat fertile plains and
fabulous deep gorges. There is an abundance of water, fruit, vegetables,
seafood and wine, as well as some of the finest honey and yoghurt in the
world. The mild Mediterranean climate is ideal for holidays and as such
offers the opportunity to swim in the sea for 8 months of the
year. The rich mountainous countryside
lures those who are interested in exploring on foot, whilst the historical
aspect of the island entices many to visit the variety of beautiful castles,
monasteries and archaeological sites, some of which are 5000 years old.
Most importantly, there is always the warm friendliness of the Cretan people
who may well invite you to share a drink with them. Crete may become for
you, as it has for so many previous visitors, a special and endearing place
to be visited time and time again.
is one of the most southerly parts of Europe, lying to the south of the
North African cities of Tunis and Algiers. With over 300 days of sunshine
each year it enjoys the record for Europe, yet in the summer months the
intense heat is eased on the north coast by the breezes of the "Meltemi".
In Spring there is a virtual explosion of wild flowers which makes the
island a sight to behold and a joy to the senses. The start of the break
up of the long dry months begins in October and November signifying the
beginning of winter yet even the winter months can often have periods of
lovely bright and warm sunny weather.
and Natural History
the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with a land mass of approximately
8,331 sqm. It is 255 km long and varies between 12 and 56 km in width and
there is one place in eastern Crete where one can see both the Cretan and
Libyan seas. The island is divided into four administrative regions, known
as Nomos, Chania in the West, Rethymno and Heraklion in the Centre of Crete
and Lassithi in the East. The magnificient landscape of Crete is very mountainous
with great gorges, caves and high plains. There are four mountain ranges,
the Ida mountains in central Crete (2,456 metres high), the Lefka Ori or
the White Mountains (2,452 metres high) in the west, the Dikti Mountains
(2,148 metres high) and the Sitia Mountains (1,476 metres high in the east
of the island.
are endless opportunities to go walking and trekking in the mountains,
most of which are covered in a variety of trees and shrubs, and have verdant
high plains and plateau with fabulous vistas.
from the majestic and awa inspiring mountain ranges of Crete, the variety
of its wonderful coastline is equally stunning. Out of the total length
of its 1047 km coastline, there are 155 km of beaches, most of which lie
on the north coast, while in contrast, the South coast is a haven of little
bays and small sandy coves ideal for swimming. On the north coast there
are vast glorious sweeping bays, the most striking of which are Kissamos,
Souda, Almiros, Malia, Mirabello and Sitia. The beautiful Bay of Souda
is the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean.
The most spectacular of the Cretan gorges is the famous Samaria Gorge,
which at 18 km long is the largest gorge in Europe. From somewhere in the
region of a total of 3,000 caves, the cave on Mount Ida and Mount Dikti
have become the most famed for their rich archeological discoveries.
flora and fauna is well known for its vast variety. The great changes in
climate and geology over millions of years have had a profound effect on
the island's plants and animals and as a result of this, today there are
many varieties which can only be found on the island of Crete. One is welcomed
by the picture postcard mediterranean vista of endless blue sea and the
mesmerising silver green hue of olive trees, where once there were towering
Cypress trees and pine forests. Crete attracts many people who are interested
in plants and they come to see the rich variety of flowers, herbs and trees.
Cretan population of 600,000 has retained its very distinctive values and
traditions throughout a long, long history of many different outside influences
as well as retaining a warmth to visitors and a willingness to change.
Some years ago, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens, L. Petit, described
the inhabitants of Crete in the following way. "A truly admirable people,
that despite 4000 years of turbulence, has kept its national identity and
pure language, displaying courage mixed with a sense
of independence which borders on
stubborness, supreme liveliness, fertile
imagination, colourful and descriptive
language, great spontaneity and a laid back approach to life, a love of
adventure, a fierce need for freedom along with an enduring desire to express
As there are no natural mineral resources, there is no industry on Crete
worth mentioning. More than half the population are farmers, who work the
land or breed sheep, goats, pigs and fowl. Tourism on the other hand creates
the largest source of employment and offers the best opportunities for
personal initiative. When you visit Crete you may well want to join one
of the many festivals, beloved by Cretans who love to get together to celebrate
with traditional music and dance and to which guests are always welcome.
Christenings and weddings are still big events, and sometimes the joyful
enthusiasm of the gathering reaches such proportions that the men fire
their shotguns into the air. The wine harvest is in the early autumn and
followed by spontaneous celebrations at the many family distilleries, because
the production of the local firewater, raki, offers a good opportunity
for a party. Christmas, Easter and Maria's Ascension Day on the 15th August,
are very important days in the calendar, as the people still care deeply
for their religious traditions. In the summertime there are
plenty of celebrations, as well
as rural festivals in various villages during harvest time.