Crete

Crete is the largest island of Greece and the southernmost point of Europe known as the island of the Minotaur from the Greek mythology. Surrounded by two seas - Cretan to the north and Libyan to the south, it is a crossroads of three continents. It has elongated shape, 300 km in the widest part and 100 km in length. Most of the island is mountainous, with four mountain ranges and six peaks over 2000 meters, forming valleys and gorges, the most famous of which is the Samaria Gorge. Around Crete there are a number of small uninhabited islands, the most famous of which are Gavdos, Dia, Koufonissi, Gaydouronissi (Chryssi), Dyonissades, Spinalonga and Paximadi. In the southwest is Elafonissi - a little sandy islet to which you can walk as the sea depth does not exceed 1 meter.

Crete has been inhabited since ancient times and has many historic landmarks. It is the place where one of the most ancient European civilizations arouse - Minoan. The Minoan civilization existed for seven centuries and was destroyed by the eruption of Santorini volcano, north of Crete, perhaps creating the legend of Atlantis. In the following centuries Crete had been ruled by the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Venice and Turkey until 1907, when it become part of Greece.

Today the population of Crete is over 600 000 inhabitants. The largest city and capital is Heraklion. Other important towns of the island are Chania, Rethymnon, Perama, Vamos, Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra. The two airports on the island are located in Heraklion and Chania. There are many archeological sites to visit but the most popular tourist destinations are the palaces of Knossos, Festos and Gortis, the Venetian fortress in Rethymnon, the mountainous Samaria Gorge and the caves. The island has about 3000 caves, large and small, and according to legend Zeus himself was born in one of them. Crete is the birthplace of famous artists and writers such as El Greco, Damaskinos, Kazantzakis and many others.

Although it is part of Greece, Crete differs from other places in the country. The island has its own dialect and own music the cuisine is with Mediterranean predominance known worldwide as Cretan cuisine (or Cretan diet, although in this case a diet is simply the way of nutrition of the Cretans and not a particular nutritional rule). Traditional musical instruments are lyre and askomandura (instrument similar to bagpipe) so the music you hear on Crete can not be compared to any other.

The coastline is represented by rocky cliffs and endless sandy beach. The water is clean and transparent but very salty. The hottest temperatures are in July and August, exceeding 40 degrees and even in winter the temperature does not fall below 5 degrees. You can swim in the sea almost all year round.

Administratively Crete is divided into four prefectures (regions): Chania, Rhetymnon, Lasithi and Heraklion.

highlights: the island of the Minotaur, historic landmarks, region in Greece

Chania RegionChania
Heraklion RegionHeraklion, Hersonissos
Rethymnon RegionRethymnon
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