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Knosos
 


Crete, mountainous landscape

 


Knosos
 

Crete

Crete is the largest and most populous island of Greece and the fifth largest of the Mediterranean. Crete has significant findings from the Paleolithic Age and Stone Age dating back 130,000 to 190,000 years BCE. It occupies a special place in Greek mythology, one myth referring to the Ideon Andron, or Ideon Cave, on a mountain plateau on Mt. Ida (or Mt. Psiloritis) of Crete, as the birthplace of Zeus. In the period 3000-1400 BC, the Minoan civilization flourished, one of the first European civilizations, its main centers being Knossos and Phaistos, where palace complexes were found which are preserved today as unique archaeological discoveries of an entire civilization.

The capital and biggest city is Heraklion, the commercial hub and port of the island of Crete. Chania, with its old town located around the Venetian port and surrounded by the surviving Venetian fortifications, is one of the most attractive cities of the Mediterranean and preserves examples of all the cultures that have passed through. The picturesque town of Rethymno, possessing outstanding sights, is extremely popular with tourists. The Sacred Monastery of Arkadi is an Orthodox monastery complex, going back to the period of Venetian rule on the island, which has been designated as a European Freedom Monument by UNESCO. Crete is famous for her traditional music and local instruments, such as the lyre, the lute, the violin and the mandolin, as well as more generally for art and literature. The Cretan School, an important school of icon painting, was developed on the island during the Renaissance, also receiving influences from Eastern and Western Europe. It influenced Dominikos Theotokopoulos, the Cretan painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance, known worldwide as El Greco.

Crete is famous for her countless areas of natural beauty, including many gorges and endless trekking routes for walking tour enthusiasts. The Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, has been designated by UNESCO as a unique Biosphere Reserve, while the Council of Europe has declared it a “monument of natural beauty”. Crete is one of the most popular of international holiday destinations, this being due as much to her warm climate with high temperatures and plentiful sunshine as to her numerous enchanting beaches to be found both on the northern Aegean-facing side and on her southern side facing the Libyan Sea. The small offshore island of Elafonissi with its white sands, crystal-clear waters and unusual landscape all forming a magical environment, Falasarna with its sand dunes, Balos with its turquoise waters, the palm-forest beach of Vai, Preveli are only a few of the multiple world-renowned seashores of exceptional beauty located on the island. A popular travel destination is the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos and its small harbor, a lagoon in the center of the city. Cretan hospitality is world famous, as is also the Cretan cuisine with its tasty hors-d’oeuvres and delectable traditional dishes.

 

 


Phaistos


Elafonisos


Holy Monasteri Chrisokalitissas


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