About Crete

The Island of Crete

Crete (Greek: Κρήτη) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece; while it retains its own local cultural traits (such as its own dialect, poetry, and music). Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization (circa 2700–1420 BC), the first civilization in Europe and the first European country with a palace (at Knossos). Beginning in 1420 BC, the Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenean civilization from mainland Greece. The oldest samples of writing in the Greek language, as identified by Michael Ventris, is the Linear B archive from Knossos, dated approximately to 1425-1375 BC.

Crete lays between the Sea of Crete and the Libyan Sea, south of the Peloponnese. Crete is approximately 260 km long and 60 km wide. Crete consists of four prefectures: Chania, Rethimno, Heraklion and Lasithi. If there was a beauty contest for Greek islands, Crete would surely be among the favorites. Indeed, some say there is no place on earth like Crete.

This view is strongly supported by those fortunate enough to have visited the island. Crete, with a population of approximately 650,000, is not just sun, sea and sand; it is a quite distinct place full of vitality, warmth, hospitality, culture and of course an excellent infrastructure. Crete is well known for its seas and beaches but it has a very contrasting landscape. The island goes from fertile coastal plains to rugged mountains and from busy metropolitan cities to very peaceful hillside homes. If you travel throughout Crete you can clearly see remnants of Roman and Turkish aqueducts and architecture from when these people invaded the island long ago.

Other names for the island

Other names for the island under Roman rule, in Classical Latin, the island was called Creta. Under Venetian rule, it was known as Candia (sometimes anglicized as 'Candy'), a Venetian adaptation of the earlier Greek name Chandax ("moat") or Chandakas, which in turn came from the Arabic (rabḍ al-ḫandaq) rabḍ al-ḫandaq 'castle of the moat'. Under Ottoman rule, in Turkish, it was called Girit.

Mythology

Crete has a rich mythology mostly connected with the ancient Greek Gods but also connected with the Minoan civilization. The Idaion cave at Mount Ida was the birthplace of the god Zeus. The Paximadia islands were the birthplace of the goddess Artemis and the god Apollo. Their mother, the goddess Leto, was worshipped at Phaistos. The goddess Athena bathed in Lake Voulismeni. The ancient Greek god Zeus launched a lightning bolt at a giant lizard that was threatening Crete. The lizard immediately turned to stone and became the island of Dia. The island can be seen from Knossos and it has the shape of a giant lizard.

The islets of Lefkai were the result of a musical contest between the Sirens and the Muses. The Muses were so anguished to have lost that they plucked the feathers from the wings of their rivals; the Sirens turned white and fell into the sea at Aptera ("featherless") where they formed the islands in the bay that were called Lefkai (the islands of Souda and Leon).[40] Hercules, in one of his labors, took the Cretan bull to the Peloponnese. Europa and Zeus made love at Gortys and conceived the Kings of the Minoan civilization.

The labyrinth of the palace of Knossos has the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur where the Minotaur was slayed by Theseus. Icarus and Daedalus were captives of King Minos and crafted wings to escape. King Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades

Archaeological Sites

There are a large number of archaeological sites which include the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, and the diverse archaeology of the island of Koufonisi which includes Minoan, Roman, and World War II ruins. There are a number of museums throughout Crete. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum displays most of the archaeological finds of the Minoan era.

Heraklion – The main city of Crete

Heraklion is the capital of Crete and one of the Mediterranean region's most fascinating and vibrant cities. It is full of places to discover.  With the current efforts to open up the wonderful mediaeval city centre, it speaks to us of a past full of history and great events that reflect its location at the crossroads of three continents.

The city is also the commercial and technological centre of the island. It has a strategic geopolitical position in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea connecting three continents and many different cultures.

It offers a wealth of museums, a summer-long arts festival, historical sightseeing, amazing nightlife and events throughout the year.

Knossos

The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos.

The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth, with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros.

It was a multi-storey building covering an area of 20.000 square meters

Anissaras

Located 24km east of Heraklion and 1km west of Hersonissos. The area of Anissaras is part of the unique stretch of Cretan coastline from Kokkini Hani to Malia.

Anissaras is neither a village nor a town – it’s a place – a large, hilly area which springs up just outside of Hersonissos, a stone’s throw away. But the difference between the two is like night and day. Actually, some people refer to it as Hersonissos’ high-class suburb.

There are 1-2 cafeterias and taverns, some minimarkets and shops, no nightlife – outside of the hotels in Anissaras, which are mostly upscale and self-contained. However, there are a few smaller hotels and several tourist apartments in the area. All in all, it is a place for a quieter vacation, yet Anissaras is right next to Hersonissos, which boasts some of the best, most frantic nightclubs on Crete. If you get fed up with the peace and quiet of Anissaras, the queen of Cretan nightlife is only 1-2 kilometres away.

Hersonissos

Located 1-2 kilometres away from Anissaras the town of Hersonissos is conveniently located in the center of the island of Crete, offering numerous opportunities for visiting the beautiful surroundings. The original community of Old Hersonissos and of two other picturesque villages, Piskopiano and Koutouloufari are nested in the foothills, overlooking the busy town of Hersonissos. Those villages along with the communities of Anissaras, Potamies, Avdou, Gonies and Kera form the Municipality of Hersonissos.

Hersonissos is full cafeterias, coffee shops, taverns, pizzerias, shops, supermarkets, bakeries  and bars. Hersonissos is full of nightlife.

The island Crete, at the most southern part of Europe is an ideal place for vacations and one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. The island with the crystal clear sandy beaches, sunny 9 months a year, makes it the perfect place for rest and entertainment.

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