Crete is the largest island in Greece and the second biggest of the East Mediterranean. It lies at the Southern Aegean Sea and at the crossroads of three continents Europe, Asia and Africa.
Crete is an island with an exquisite 1,000 kilometer-long coastline dotted with numerous coves, bays and peninsulas, which afford a multitude of soft, sandy beaches along the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea. After all, it's among the finest in the world and has established Crete as one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. And, of course, the island's historic importance in today's world as the home of the Minoan civilization with important archeological finds at Knossos, Phaistos and Gortys, is evidenced by the tens of thousands of visitors to these sites each year.
Crete is also known for Matala, the famous caves from the 60ies where hippies from all over the world were coming to find peace and experience natural life…
World famous is the Samaria Gorge, the second biggest in Europe, with thousands of people walking the 16,7 km to reach the Mediterranean sea at the south end of the Cretan land.
It is right there, adrift the open sea, where whales can be observed from the land.
Crete bears also the marks of the Venetian era, in the fortresses of Rethymno and Chania, the most historic and beautiful cities of the island.
Crete is endless. History and monuments lie under every stone. Numerous hidden gems are waiting to be explored…
Mythology has it that it was in a cave of Crete where the goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus. In that cave, Zeus was brought up by the nymphs while the demonical Kouretes would strike their shields loudly so that Cronus may not hear the crying of the baby Zeus and eat it. It was also to Crete that Zeus, disguised as a bull, took Europa so that they may enjoy their love together. Their union produced a son, Minos, who ruled Crete and turned it into a mighty island empire of the seas. In Minoan times, even Attica would pay a tribute tax to Crete, until Theseus, the Athenian prince, killed the Minotaur. The truth behind the myth is the existence of a mighty and wealthy kingdom and of a civilisation that is considered the most ancient one on the European continent.
In 1450 BC and again in 1400 BC the Minoan Civilization was successively devastated possibly due to the eruption of the volcano of Thera and was eventually led to its decline. In the wake of the devastation the Dorians arrived to settle on the island. They were later followed by the Romans. After the Roman rule, Crete becomes a province of Byzantium until the arrival of the Arabs who occupied the island for an entire century (824-961 BC). During the Arab domination, Crete became the lair of pirates who were based out of Chandakas, present day Heraklion.
Next, Crete fell under Byzantine rule again until the arrival of the Venetians who occupied the island for approximately 5 centuries leaving their stamp on the island’s culture. After the fall of Chandakas in 1669, the Turkish Occupation began marked by ferocious and bloody uprisings. At the end of the 19th century Turkish rule came to an end. The Cretan State was created with the King of Greece as the island’s High Commissioner. In 1913, Crete was finally joined officially with Greece.