Crete, the largest and most populous island in Greece and one of the biggest in the Mediterranean Sea. The cradle of Minoan Civilization – considered as the oldest in Europe – dating from 2700 BC. Remnants of Knossos and Phaistos palaces reminding us how far in the past the surprisingly sophisticated Greek Bronze Age (3300 BC – 1100 BC) lies. During late Minoan times (1750-1490 BC) – preceded by a devastating earthquake striking Crete and led to reconstruction of the main palaces – Minoan culture reached its brilliant zenith with new secondary palaces founded at Kydonia, Archanes, Galatas, Gournia, Petras (Sitia) and Zakros. Together, these historical places served as a system of collection and redistribution centers for the agricultural craft products, artistic works and other commercial goods that were the lifeblood of Minoan society and its domestic and overseas economy.
Crete Incredible History
Crete See for yourself
Birthplace of Domenico Theotokopoulos “El Greco”, Nikos Kazantzakis and Eleftherios Venizelos and foremost the place of origin of the world Greek Mikis Theodorakis, “father” of the legendary Zorba and of an invaluable cultural heritage. It is located at the southern end of the county. The Cretan Sea lies to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south of the island. Greece’s economy relies heavily on Crete. The island focuses on tourism and services, as well as agriculture and farming. Crossroad of maritime routes and cultures.
Crete is a unique mosaic of surfaces with steep mountains, dozens of gorges, endemic plants, arable land and plateaus. Its distinctive geophysical form creates contradictory representations as it includes forests, seas and endless beautiful beaches, mountains with high altitude and snow, but also rocky and dry soil. The gorge of Samaria, the palm forest of Preveli, Psiloritis, Dikti, the island of Chrysi are only the prominent ambassadors of the rare and unique biodiversity of Cretan land.
Crete Incredible Memories
Crete Incredible Beaches
The Region of Crete is including the regional units of Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lassithi.
Gastronomy and other customs of Crete
The Cretan diet today is known all over the world as the representative model of Mediterranean cuisine which from 2012 was recognized by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Olive oil is the greatest secret of the Cretan diet and the longevity of the Cretan people. The most important products of the Cretan land are olives, grapes, fruits, wine and tsikoudia, dairy, apaki, sour sausages, breads and nuts, thyme honey, stamnagathi, wild herbs and vegetables, sultanas, locusts. Furthermore, Cretan cuisine uses a variety of herbs and especially oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint, cumin and fennel. Cretans have a strong preference to brew malotira (mountain tea), erontas (dittany), sage, marjoram and chamomile. Signature of Cretan cuisine is its famous dishes and among them Cretan cheeses, dakos, fried snails (chochlioi boubouristi), Cretan cheese pies (kaltsounia), lamb with stamnagathi, gamopilafo, mountain bulbs (askordoulakous) and smoked pork (hirina apakia).
Crete Incredible Flavors
Crete The Island Inside You
Cretan wedding ceremony is a reference point of Crete. At the top of Cretan traditions and customs, is still maintained in many villages. . Not only a mystery but a bright celebration which lasts even for several days. By keeping family ties very close, they place great emphasis on the approval and participation of the family. The father and the head of the family are responsible for approving the marriage and the bride and groom must not only follow his advice but also accept his possible dissenting opinion. Until the day of the mystery, relatives and friends send gifts, the so-called “kaniskia” which is a basket of oil, cheese, wine and potatoes. On the eve, everyone helps the “dowries” to transport the bride’s dowries to the groom’s house. The ceremony begins with a procession from the groom’s house accompanied by mantinades and rifles and ends at the bride’s house.
Mantinades are the most commonly heard folk songs in Cretan villages, a 15-syllable rhyming couplet (similar to a limerick) in a Cretan dialect. They are often performed with an accompanying lyra or laouta (a traditional stringed instrument) and tiskoudia (Cretan tsipouro or raki) and have lyrics that speak of every emotion and value (love, birth, death, friendship etc). What makes them even more special is that the performer often improvises mid-song. Another type of Cretan music is the Rizitika songs (the oldest type of music in Crete), which are similar to epic poems.
Crete is also famous for its own dances, although some have some similarities with other parts of Greece. You can attend a show of pendozalis, an incredible dance exclusively danced by men. Conversely, the sousta is danced as a couple to the delight of lovers. Furthermore, local Cretan art, with among others Venetian and Ottoman influences, is undoubtedly worth the attention. Locals have always have always been fascinated by crafts, be it weaving, pottery or even leather. You can find trinkets of all kinds in the many souvenir shops on the island. Especially don’t leave Crete without take with you a souvenir from Cretan jewels, made through an Etruscan process. These original creations are found in Réthymno and Chania.