The Minoan Palace at Knossos
The Minoan Palace at Knossos
GR Kreta.PNG
Coordinates: 35°N 25°E / 35°N 25°E / 35; 25
Total isles: 80+
Area: 8,336 km² (3,219 sq.mi.)
Highest mountain: Mt. Psiloritis (2,456 m (8,058 ft))
Greece Greece
Periphery: Crete
Prefecture: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Lasithi.
Capital: Heraklion
Population: 623,666 (as of 2005)
Density: 75 /km² (194 /sq.mi.)
Postal code: 72x xx, 70x xx, 71x xx, 73x xx, 740 55, 74x xx
Area code: 284 x0, 2810, 289x0, 282x0, 28310, 283x0
License code: AN, HK, HP, XN, PE

Crete (Greek: Κρήτη; [kriti]) 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 retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own dialect, poetry, and music). Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), the earliest "high culture" civilization in Europe, which built the first palaces in Europe.[1]

NASA photograph of Crete.



The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century B.C.,[2] repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It is also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.[3]

The Mycenaean Greek name for Crete is unknown; it is not mentioned in extant Linear B texts. The name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer's Odyssey.[4] Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothesized Luvian word *kursatta 'island'.[5] In Latin, it became Creta.

The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš (Arabic: اقريطش‎ < (της) Κρήτης), but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-ḫandaq (modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ (Khandhax) or Χάνδακας (Khandhakas), which became Latin and Venetian Candia, thence French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (Ottoman Turkish: كريت, as recorded by Piri Reis).

Physical geography

Greece and Crete
View of Lefka Ori
View of the Ha Gorge

Crete is the largest island in Greece and the second largest in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (after Cyprus). It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea.

Island morphology

The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km (160 mi) from east to west, is 60 km (37 mi) at its widest point, and narrows to as little as 12 km (7.5 mi) (close to Ierapetra). Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi), with a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi); to the north, it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος); to the south, the Libyan Sea (Greek: Λιβυκό Πέλαγος); in the west, the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathion Sea. It lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland.

Mountains and valleys

Crete is extremely mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains:

These mountains gifted Crete with valleys, such as Amari valley, fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi plateau, Omalos and Nidha; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion (the birthplace of the ancient Greek god Zeus); and a number of gorges.

Gorges, rivers, and lakes

The island has a number of gorges such as the famous gorge of Samaria, the Imbros gorge, the Kourtaliotiko gorge, the Ha gorge, the Platania gorge, the Gorge of the Dead (at Kato Zakros, Sitia), and the Richtis Gorge and waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia.[6][7][8][9]

The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, and Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania prefecture.[10] Lake Voulismeni at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was formerly a sweetwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi.[11]

Surrounding islands

A large number of islands, islets, and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are visited only by archaeologists and biologists. Some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands include:


Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily temperate. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low lying areas. While mountain tops remain snow-capped year long, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a truly exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius (mid 80s to mid 90s Fahrenheit), with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s (above 110 °F / 43.3 °C).

The south coast, including the Mesara Plain and Asterousia Mountains, falls in the North African climatic zone, and thus enjoys significantly more sunny days and high temperatures throughout the year. There, date palms bear fruit, and swallows remain year-round rather than migrate to Africa. The fertile region around Ierapetra, on the southeastern corner of the island, is renowned for its exceptional year-round agricultural production, with all kinds of summer vegetables and fruit produced in greenhouses throughout the winter.

Human geography

Crete region within Greece

Crete is the most populous island in Greece with a population of more than 600,000 people. Approximately 42% live in Crete's main cities and towns whilst 45% live in rural areas.[12]


Crete with its nearby islands form the region Crete (Greek: Περιφέρεια Κρήτης), one of the 13 regions of Greece which were established in the 1987 administrative reform.[13] With the 2010 Kallikratis plan, the powers and authority of the regions were redefined and extended. The region is based at Heraklion and is divided into four peripheral units (pre-Kallikratis prefectures). From west to east these are: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi. These are further subdivided into 24 municipalities.

The region's governor is, since 1 January 2011, Stavros Arnaoutakis, who was elected in the November 2010 local administration elections for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.


View of Agios Nikolaos' port

Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete. The principal cities are:


Dancers from Sfakia
Old man from Crete dressed in the typical black shirt

The Greek language spoken on the island has a distinct Cretan Greek dialect with an extended vocabulary that is Crete-specific. Crete has its own distinctive Mantinades poetry. The island is known for its Mantinades-based music (typically performed with the Cretan lyra and the laouto) and has many indigenous dances, the most noted of which is the Pentozali.

Cretan authors have made important contributions to Greek Literature throughout the modern period; major names include Vikentios Kornaros, creator of the 17th century epic romance Erotokritos (Greek Ερωτόκριτος), and in the 20th century Nikos Kazantzakis. In the Renaissance, Crete was the home of the Cretan School of icon painting, which influenced El Greco and through him subsequent European painting.

Cretans are fiercely proud of their island and customs, and men often don elements of traditional dress in everyday life: knee-high black riding boots (stivania), vráka breeches tucked into the boots at the knee, black shirt and black headdress consisting of a fishnet-weave kerchief worn wrapped around the head or draped on the shoulders (the sariki). Black is the color of mourning, and since Cretan families are notionally considered so extended as to include great-grandparents or second cousins (although they may have little actual contact) as well as all their respective in-laws, one is theoretically justified to be in continuous mourning for some relative or other, however distant. On festive occasions those who are not in mourning wear white, most notably white boots and headdress. In the small villages in the mountains some men unabashedly carry weapons including knives and guns which also appear at special occasions such as weddings.

Cretan society is well known for notorious family and clan vendettas which remain on the island to date.[15][16] Cretans also have a tradition of keeping firearms at home, a tradition lasting from the era of resistance against the Ottoman Empire. Nearly every rural household on Crete has at least one unregistered gun.[15] Guns are subject to strict regulation from the Greek government, yet the authorities turn a blind eye, accepting gun possession as their tradition.


The economy of Crete is predominantly based on agriculture and is one of the few Greek islands that can support itself independently without a tourism industry.[17] The economy began to change visibly during the 1970s as tourism gained in importance. While an emphasis remains on agriculture and stock breeding, due to the climate and terrain of the island, there has been a drop in manufacturing, and an observable expansion in its service industries (mainly tourism-related). All three sectors of the Cretan economy (agriculture/farming, processing-packaging, services), are directly connected and interdependent. The island has a per capita income much higher than the Greek average, while unemployment is at approximately 4%, 12 of that of the country overall.

As in many regions of Greece, viticulture and olive groves are significant; oranges and citrons are also cultivated. Until recently there were restrictions on the import of bananas to Greece, therefore bananas were grown on the island, predominantly in greenhouses. Dairy products are important to the local economy and there are a number of speciality cheeses such as mizithra, anthotyros, and kefalotyri.

Transport infrastructure

The island has three significant airports, Nikos Kazantzakis at Heraklion, the Daskalogiannis airport at Chania and a smaller one in Sitia. The first two serve international routes, as the main gateways to the island for travellers.

The island is served by ferries mostly from Athens by ferry companies such as Minoan Lines and ANEK Lines.

The palm beach of Vai, Crete


Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Fifteen percent of all arrivals in Greece come through the city of Heraklion (port and airport), while charter journeys to Heraklion last year made up 20% of all charter flights in Greece.[citation needed] Overall, more than two million tourists visited Crete last year,[when?] and this increase in tourism is reflected on the number of hotel beds, rising by 53% in the period between 1986 and 1991, when the rest of Greece saw increases of only 25%. Today, the island's tourism infrastructure caters to all tastes, including a very wide range of accommodation; the island's facilities take in large luxury hotels with their complete facilities, swimming pools, sports and recreation, smaller family-owned apartments, camping facilities and others. Visitors reach the island via two international airports in Heraklion and Chania, or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimno and Agios Nikolaos. Popular tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the Venetian old city and port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, the gorge of Samaria, the islands of Chrysi, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, and Spinalonga and the Palm Beach of Vai, which is the largest natural palm forest in Europe.


Crete has two football clubs: OFI Crete, which plays at Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium (Iraklion), and Ergotelis F.C., which plays at the Pankritio Stadium (Iraklion). Both are members of Superleague Greece.

Archaeological sites and museums

There are a significal number of monasteries in the island: Gouverneto Monastery (left) and the historical Monastery of Arkadi (right).

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.[18]

Environmentally protected areas

There are a number of environmentally protected areas. One such area is located at the island of Elafonisi on the coast of southwestern Crete. Also, the palm forest of Vai in eastern Crete and the Dionysades (both in the municipality of Sitia, Lasithi), have diverse animal and plant life. Vai has a palm beach and the largest natural palm forest in Europe. The island of Chrysi, 15 km south of Ierapetra, has the largest naturally grown Lebanon Cedar forest in Europe.


Newspapers have reported that the Ministry of Mercantile Marine is ready to support the agreement between Greece, South Korea, Dubai Ports World and China for the construction of a large international container port and free trade zone in southern Crete near Tympaki; the plan is to expropriate 850 ha of land. The port would handle 2 million containers per year, while as of 2007, there has been no official announcement of a project not universally welcomed due to its environmental, economic and cultural impact.[19] As of January 2009, it appears the project has been canceled, in part due to the strong opposition from the local population, mostly on environmental grounds.[19]

Holiday homes and immigration

Crete's mild climate attracts interest from northern Europeans who want a holiday home or residence on the island. EU citizens have the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality.[20] A growing number of real estate companies cater to mainly British expatriates, followed by German, Dutch, Scandinavian and other European nationalities wishing to own a home in Crete. The British expatriates are concentrated in the western prefectures of Chania and Rethymno and to a lesser extent in Heraklion and Lasithi.

Fauna and flora

The Kri-kri (the Cretan ibex) lives in protected natural parks at the gorge of Samaria and the island of Agios Theodoros.
The moorish gecko crawls across walls when it gets dark.
A pair of Xylophagous insects, called Tzitzikia locally and referred to as Cicada in America
The loggerhead sea turtle nests and hatches along the beaches of Rethymno and Chania and the gulf of Mesara.
The Ophrys Cretica orchid

Crete is isolated from mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, and this is reflected in the diversity of the fauna and flora. As a result the fauna and flora of Crete have many clues to the evolution of species. There are no animals that are dangerous to humans on the island of Crete compared to other parts of Greece. Indeed, the ancient Greeks attributed the lack of large mammals such as bears, wolves, jackals, and poisonous snakes, to the labour of Hercules (who took a live Cretan bull to the Peloponnese). Hercules wanted to honor the birthplace of Zeus by removing all "harmful" and "poisonous" animals from Crete. Later, Cretans believed that the island was cleared of dangerous creatures by the Apostle Paul, who lived on the island of Crete for two years, with his exorcisms and blessings. There is a Natural History Museum operating under the direction of the University of Crete and two aquariums - Aquaworld in Hersonissos and Cretaquarium displaying sea creatures common in Cretan waters.

Prehistoric fauna

Dwarf elephants, dwarf hippopotamus, and dwarf deer were native to Pleistocene Crete.[21]


Mammals of Crete include the vulnerable Kri-kri, that can be seen in the national parks of the Samaria Gorge and the Agioi Theodoroi (islands), the Cretan wildcat and the Cretan spiny mouse.[22][23][24][25] Other terrestrial mammals include subspecies of the Cretan marten, the Cretan weasel, the Cretan badger, the long-eared hedgehog, the edible dormouse, and the Cretan shrew, a unique endemic species of mammal in Greece, that is unfortunately threatened with extinction.[26]

Bat species include: Blasius's horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat, the greater horseshoe bat, the lesser mouse-eared bat, Geoffroy's bat, the whiskered bat, Kuhl's pipistrelle, the common pipistrelle, Savi's pipistrelle, the serotine bat, the long-eared bat, Schreiber's bat, and the European free-tailed bat.[27]


A large variety of birds includes eagles (can be seen in Lasithi), swallows (throughout Crete but throughout the year in the south of the island), pelicans (along the coast), and cranes (including Gavdos and Gavdopoula). The Cretan mountains and gorges are refuges for the endangered Lammergeier vulture. Bird species include: the golden eagle, Bonelli's eagle, the bearded vulture or Lammergeier, the griffon vulture, Eleanora's falcon, peregrine falcon, lanner falcon, European kestrel, tawny owl, little owl, hooded crow, alpine chough, red-billed chough, and the hoopoe.[28][29]

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles and tortoises can be seen throughout the island. Snakes can be found hiding under rocks. Toads and frogs reveal themselves when it rains.

Reptiles include the aegean wall lizard, balkan green lizard, european chameleon, ocellated skink, snake-eyed skink, moorish gecko, turkish gecko, Kotschy's gecko, spur-thighed tortoise, and the stripe-necked terrapin.[27][30]

There are four species of snake on the island and these are not dangerous to humans. The four species include the leopard snake (locally known as Ochendra), the Balkan whip snake (locally called Dendrogallia), the dice snake (called Nerofido in Greek), and the only venomous snake is the nocturnal cat snake which has evolved to deliver its venom in to geckos and small lizards and is not dangerous to humans.[27][31]

Turtles include the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle which are both endangered species.[30] The loggerhead turtle nests and hatches on north-coast beaches around Rethymno and Chania, and south-coast beaches along the gulf of Mesara.[32]

Amphibians include the green toad, American toad, common tree frog, and the Cretan marsh frog.[27][30]


Crete has an unusual variety of insects. Xylophagous, known locally as Tzitzikia, make a distinctive repetitive tzi tzi noise that becomes louder and more frequent on hot summer days. Butterfly species include the swallowtail butterfly.[27] Moth species include the hummingbird moth.[33] There are several species of scorpion such as Euscorpius carpathicus whose venom is generally no more potent than a mosquito bite.

Crustaceans and molluscs

River crabs include the semi-terrestrial potamon potamios crab.[27] Edible snails are widespread and can cluster in the hundreds waiting for rainfall to reinvigorate them.


Apart from terrestrial mammals, the seas around Crete are rich in large marine mammals, a fact unknown to most Greeks, although reported since ancient times. Indeed, the Minoan frescoes depicting dolphins in Queen's Megaron at Knossos, indicate that Minoans knew many things about these creatures and respected them. Apart from the famous endangered Mediterranean monk seal, which lives in almost all the coasts of the country, Greece hosts whales, sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises.[34] These are either permanent residents of the Mediterranean, or just occasional visitors. The area south of Crete, known as the Greek Abyss, hosts many of them. Squid and octopus can be found along the coast and Sea turtles and Hammerhead sharks swim in the sea around the coast. The Cretaquarium and the Aquaworld Aquarium, are two of only three aquariums in Greece, they are located in Heraklion and Hersonissos respectively, and examples of the local sealife can be seen there.[35][36]

Some of the fish that can be seen in the waters around Crete include: scorpion fish, dusky grouper, east Atlantic peacock wrasse, five-spotted wrasse, weever fish, common stingray, brown ray, mediterranean black goby, pearly razorfish, star-gazer, painted comber, damselfish, and the flying gurnard.[37]


Common wildflowers include: camomile, daisy, gladioli, hyacinth, iris, poppy, and tulip. There are more than 200 different species of wild orchid on the island and this includes 14 varieties of Ophrys Cretica.[38] Crete has a rich variety of indigenous herbs including common sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.[38][39] Rare herbs include Cretan dittany.[38][39] Varieties of cactus include the edible Prickly Pear. Common trees on the island include the chestnut, cypress, oak, olive tree, pine, plane, and tamarisk.[39] Trees tend to be taller to the west of the island where water is more abundant.


The Prince of the Lilies (Knossos, c. 1550 BC)
Fresco fragment of a dancing woman (Knossos, 1600–1450 BC)
The Byzantine campaign to take back Crete in 960/1 by Nikephoros Phokas as depicted by Ioannes Scylitzes (see Skylitzes Chronicle)

Hominids settled in Crete at least 130,000 years ago. In the later Neolithic and Bronze Age period, under the Minoans, Crete had a highly developed, literate civilization. It has been ruled by various ancient Greek entities, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Emirate of Crete, the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. After a brief period of autonomy (1897–1913) under a provisional Cretan government, it joined the Kingdom of Greece. It was occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Prehistoric Crete

The first human settlement in Crete dates before 130,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic age.[40][41][42]
Settlements dating to the aceramic Neolithic in the 7th Millenium B.C., used cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs as well as domesticated cereals and legumes; ancient Knossos was the site of one of these major Neolithic (then later Minoan) sites.[43] Other neolithic settlements include those at Kephala, Magasa, and Trapeza.

Minoan civilization

Crete was the center of Europe's first advanced civilization, the Minoan (c. 2700–1420 BC).[1] This civilization wrote in the undeciphered script known as Linear A. Early Cretan history is replete with legends such as those of King Minos, Theseus, and the Minotaur, passed on orally via poets such as Homer. The Minoan eruption of Thera devastated the Minoan civilization.

Mycenean civilization

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.[44]

Roman rule

Crete was involved in the Mithridatic Wars, initially repelling an attack by Roman general Marcus Antonius Creticus in 71 BCE. Nevertheless, a ferocious three-year campaign soon followed under Quintus Caecilius Metellus, equipped with three legions and Crete was finally conquered by Rome in 69 BCE, earning for Metellus the title "Creticus". Gortyn was made capital of the island, and Crete became a Roman province, along with Cyrenaica that was called Creta et Cyrenaica.

Byzantine Empire – first period

Crete came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and Crete was separated from Cyrenaica ca. 297. During the first Byzantine period Crete was subjected to an attack by Vandals in 467, the great earthquakes of 365 and 415, a raid by Slavs in 623, Arab raids in 654 and the 670s, and again in the 8th century. Circa 732, the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian transferred the island from the jurisdiction of the Pope to that of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.[45]

Emirate of Crete

In the 820s when Crete was part of the Byzantine Empire, it was captured by Andalusian Arabs led by Abu Hafs[46] who established the Emirate of Crete. Byzantium launched a campaign to take the island back in 842 and 843 under Theoktistos with some success. Further Byzantine campaigns in 911 and 949 failed. In 960/1 Nikephoros Phokas' campaign successfully restored Crete to Byzantium.

Byzantine Empire – second period

In 961, Nikephoros Phokas returned the island to Byzantine rule after sieging and expelling the Arabs.[47] During the Fourth Crusade Crete was granted to Boniface of Montferrat[47] as a pronoia by the Byzantine emperor Alexios IV Angelos. However, Boniface sold his rights cheaply to the Republic of Venice[47] but the island was seized by Venice's rival the Republic of Genoa and it was not until 1212 that Venice secured Crete as a colony.

Venetian rule

The venetian port of Chania

From 1212, during Venice's rule, which lasted more than four centuries, a Renaissance swept through the island as is evident from the plethora of artistic works dating to that period. The most notable representatives of this Cretan renaissance were the painter El Greco and the writers Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707), Georgios Kalafatis (professor) (ca. 1652–1720), Andreas Musalus (ca. 1665–1721) and Vitsentzos Kornaros.[48][49][50]

Under the rule of the Catholic Venetians, the city of Candia was reputed to be the best fortified city of the Eastern Mediterranean.[51] The three main forts were located at Gramvousa, Spinalonga, and Fortezza. Other fortifications include the Kazarma fortress. In 1492, Jews expelled from Spain settled on the island.[52] In 1574–77, Crete was under the rule of Giacomo Foscarini as Proveditor General, Sindace and Inquistor. According to Starr (1942), the rule of Giacomo Foscarini was a dark age for Jews and Greeks. Under his rule, non-Catholics had to pay high taxes with no allowances. In 1627, there were 800 Jews in the city of Candia, about seven percent of the city's population.[53]

Ottoman rule

Flag of the revolutionaries during the 1866 Cretan Uprising
Statue of Cretan revolutionary, Chania

The Ottomans conquered Crete in 1669, after the siege of Candia. Many Greek Cretans fled to other regions of the Republic of Venice after the Ottoman–Venetian Wars, some even prospering such as the family of Simone Stratigo (ca. 1733 – ca. 1824) who migrated to Dalamatia from Crete in 1669.[54] Islamic presence on the island, aside from the interlude of the Arab occupation, was cemented by the Ottoman conquest. Most Cretan Muslims were local Greek converts who spoke Cretan Greek, but in the island's 19th century political context they came to be viewed by the Christian population as Turks.[55] Contemporary estimates vary, but on the eve of the Greek War of Independence, as much as 45% of the population of the island may have been Muslim.[56] A number of Sufi orders were widespread throughout the island, the Bektashi order being the most prevalent, possessing at least five tekkes. Many amongst them were crypto-Christians who converted back to Christianity in subsequent years, while many others fled Crete because of the unrest, settling in Turkey, Rhodes, Syria and elsewhere. By 1900, 11% of the population was Muslim. Those remaining were relocated in the 1924 Population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

Uprisings by Christians were met with a fierce response from the Ottoman authorities who executed bishops, regarded as ringleaders on several occasions.[citation needed].

During Easter of 1770, a notable revolt against Ottoman rule, in Crete, was started by Daskalogiannis, a shipowner from Sfakia who was promised support by Orlov's fleet which never arrived. Daskalogiannis eventually surrendered to the Ottoman authorities who skinned him alive. Today, the airport at Chania is named after him.

Crete was left out of the modern Greek state by the London Protocol of 1830, and soon it was yielded to Egypt by the Ottoman sultan. Egyptian rule was short-lived and sovereignty was returned to the Ottoman Empire by the Convention of London on July 3, 1840.

Heraklion was surrounded by high walls and bastions and extended westward and southward by the 17th century. The most opulent area of the city was the northeastern quadrant where all the elite were gathered together. The city had received another name under the rule of the Ottomans, "the deserted city".[51] The urban policy that the Ottoman applied to Candia was a two-pronged approach.[51] The first was the religious endowments. It made the Ottoman elite contribute to building and rehabilitating the ruined city. The other method was to boost the population and the urban revenue by selling off urban properties. According to Molly Greene (2001) there were numerous records of real-estate transactions during the Ottoman rule. In the deserted city, minorities received equal rights in purchasing property. Christians and Jews were also able to buy and sell in the real-estate market.

Between 1833 and 1897, several more Christian uprisings took place, and in 1898, Crete, a complex autonomous Cretan State under Ottoman suzerainty.

Cretan State

The Historical flag of the Cretan State

Crete was garrisoned by an international military force, with a High Commissioner (Armostis) appointed by the government of Greece, Alexandros Zaimis. The island was partitioned in to four quarters by the four main powers jostling for power at that time. The four quarters were divided between Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France, who controlled Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Lasithi respectively. Crete was joined in union with Greece on 1 December 1913.

World War II

During World War II, the island was the scene of the famous Battle of Crete in May 1941. German paratroopers sustained almost 7,000 casualties, meeting fierce resistance from both locals and the British Commonwealth force, commanded by General Sir Bernard Freyberg. As a result, Adolf Hitler forbade further large-scale airborne operations. During the occupation, German firing squads were routinely used to execute male civilians, who were randomly gathered at local villages, in reprisal for the death of German soldiers, such as at Kondomari.

Minoan rhyton in form of a bull; Heraklion Archaeological Museum


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).[57] 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 slain 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.

Notable people from Crete

Internationally famous people from Crete include:

See also


  1. ^ a b Ancient Crete Oxford Bibliographies Online: Classics
  2. ^ Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: An Introduction (New York: Oxford UP, 2004), 42.
  3. ^ O. Dickinson, The Aegean Bronze Age (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1994), 241-244.
  4. ^ Book 14, line 199; Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon
  5. ^ Edwin L. Brown, "Linear A on Trojan Spindlewhorls, Luvian-Based ϜΑΝΑΞ at Cnossus", p. 62, in Gareth Schmeling, Jon D. Mikalson, eds., Qui miscuit utile dulci: festschrift essays for Paul Lachlan MacKendrick, 1998
  6. ^ Gorge of the Dead
  7. ^ Richtis gorge
  8. ^ Richtis beach and gorge
  9. ^ Richtis gorge and waterfall
  10. ^ Photos of Agia Lake Crete TOURnet.
  11. ^ Lake Voulismeni
  12. ^ Crete, p.44, by Victoria Kyriakopoulos.
  13. ^ Π.Δ. 51/87 "Καθορισμός των Περιφερειών της Χώρας για το σχεδιασμό κ.λ.π. της Περιφερειακής Ανάπτυξης" (Determination of the Regions of the Country for the planning etc. of the development of the Region, ΦΕΚ A 26/06.03.1987
  14. ^ a b c 2001 Census
  15. ^ a b Brian Murphy: Vendetta Victims: People, A Village -- Crete's `Cycle Of Blood' Survives The Centuries at The Seattle Times, 14 January 1999.
  16. ^ Aris Tsantiropoulos: Collective Memory and Blood Feud: The Case of Mountainous CretePDF (254 KB), Crimes and Misdemeanours 2/1 (2008), University of Crete.
  17. ^ The rough guide to Crete, Introduction, p. ix by J. Fisher and G. Garvey.
  18. ^ Archaeological sites and Museums in Crete
  19. ^ a b No Container Transshipment Hub in Timbaki, retrieved 27 May 2007.
  20. ^ On the Rights of Citizens of the Union, EC Directive 2004/58 EC (2004)
  21. ^ Van der Geer, A.A.E., Dermitzakis, M., De Vos, J., 2006. Crete before the Cretans: the reign of dwarfs. Pharos 13, 121-132. Athens: Netherlands Institute.PDF
  22. ^ Thodorou Islands off Platanias
  23. ^ Cretan Ibex, by Alexandros Roniotis
  24. ^ Cretan wildcat
  25. ^ Cretan spiny mouse
  26. ^ Terrestrial mammals of Crete
  27. ^ a b c d e f Wildlife on Crete
  28. ^ Birds of Crete
  29. ^ Checklist and Guide to the Birds of Crete
  30. ^ a b c Native Reptiles of Crete at Aquaworld Aquaworld Aquarium.
  31. ^ The Snakes of Crete by John McClaren
  32. ^ Crete p. 69, by Victoria Kyriakopoulos
  33. ^ Feeding time for a hummingbird moth
  34. ^ Marine mammals of Crete
  35. ^ Cretaquarium
  36. ^ Great Britons in Crete, John Bryce McLaren
  37. ^ Fish from Crete at Aquaworld Aquaworld Aquarium
  38. ^ a b c Crete p.68 by Victoria Kyriakopoulos
  39. ^ a b c The Flora of Crete
  40. ^ Strasser F. Thomas et al. (2010) Stone Age seafaring in the Mediterranean, Hesperia (The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens), vol. 79, pp. 145-190.
  41. ^ Wilford, J.N., On Crete, New Evidence of Very Ancient Mariners The New York Times, 15 Feb 2010.
  42. ^ Bowner, B., Hominids Went Out of Africa on Rafts Wired, 8 Jan 2010.
  43. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2007 Knossos fieldnotes The Modern Antiquarian
  44. ^ Shelmerdine, Cynthia. "Where Do We Go From Here? And How Can the Linear B Tablets Help Us Get There?" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  45. ^ Kazhdan (1991), p. 546
  46. ^ Reinhart Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne: jusqu'à la conquête de l'Andalousie par les Almoravides (French) pg. 711–1110, Leiden, 1861 & 1881, 2nd edition
  47. ^ a b c Panagiotakis, Introduction, p. XVI.
  48. ^ Tiepolo, Maria Francesca; Tonetti, Eurigio (2002). I greci a Venezia. Istituto veneto di scienze. p. 201. ISBN 8888143076, 9788888143071. "Cretese Nikolaos Kalliakis" 
  49. ^ Boehm, Eric H. (1995). Historical abstracts: Modern history abstracts, 1450-1914, Volume 46, Issues 3-4. American Bibliographical Center of ABC-Clio. p. 755. OCLC 701679973. "Between the 15th and 19th centuries the University of Padua attracted a great number of Greek students who wanted to study medicine. They came not only from Venetian dominions (where the percentage reaches 97% of the students of Italian universities) but also from Turkish-occupied territories of Greece. Several professors of the School of Medicine and Philosophy were Greeks, including Giovanni Cottunio, Niccolò Calliachi, Giorgio Calafatti..." 
  50. ^ Convegno internazionale nuove idee e nuova arte nell '700 italiano, Roma, 19-23 maggio 1975. Accademia nazionale dei Lincei. 1977. p. 429. OCLC 4666566. "Nicolò Duodo riuniva alcuni pensatori ai quali Andrea Musalo, oriundo greco, professore di matematica e dilettante di architettura chiariva le nuove idée nella storia dell’arte." 
  51. ^ a b c M. Greene. 2001. Ruling an island without a navy. A comparative view of Venetian and Ottoman Crete. Oriente moderno, 20(81), 193–207
  52. ^ A.J. Schoenfeld. 2007. Immigration and Assimilation in the Jewish Community of Late Venetian Crete (15th–17th Centuries). Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 25(1), 1–15
  53. ^ Starr,J. (1942), Jewish Life in Crete Under The Rule Of Venice, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 12, pp. 59–114.
  54. ^ Carlo Capra, Franco Della Peruta, Fernando Mazzocca (2002). Napoleone e la repubblica italiana: 1802-1805. Skira. p. 200. ISBN 8884914159 9788884914156. "Simone Stratico, nato a Zara nel 1733 da famiglia originaria di Creta (abbandonata a seguito della conquista turca del 1669)" 
  55. ^ Demetres Tziovas, Greece and the Balkans: Identities, Perceptions and Cultural Encounters Since the Enlightenment; William Yale, The Near East: A modern history Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1958)
  56. ^ William Yale, The Near East: A modern history by (Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 1958)
  57. ^ Caroline M. Galt, "A marble fragment at Mount Holyoke College from the Cretan city of Aptera", Art and Archaeology 6 (1920:150).
  58. ^ Odysseas Elytis by Alexandros Roniotis,


  • Panagiotakis, Nikolaos M. (1987). "Εισαγωγικό Σημείωμα ("Introduction")". In Panagiotakis, Nikolaos M. (in Greek). Crete, History and Civilization. I. Vikelea Library, Association of Regional Associations of Regional Municipalities. pp. XI–XX. 

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Coordinates: 35°13′N 24°55′E / 35.21°N 24.91°E / 35.21; 24.91

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