Crete is an island that forms one of the thirteen peripheries and administrative divisions of Greece. The largest Greek island, it spreads over an area of approximately 8,336 sq km (3,219 square miles). Crete is a mountainous island, which has Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in the west, Mt Idi (Psiloritis) in the center and Mt Dikti in the east. One of the attractive and mesmerizing islands on Earth, Crete is more like a country of its own. People in Crete follow customs and practices that are different from Greece and have great regard for music. The north coast of Crete, where all the cities are located, is its main tourist area. Here, you will also find some of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in the world. Natural sites and historical monuments form the other major tourist attractions of the island. In the following lines, we have provided some more interesting information about Crete.
Location: Southern part of Aegean Sea
Area: 8,336 km2
Population: 621,340 (2011 estimate)
Official Languages: Cretan Greek
Time Zone: UTC+2
Fun & Interesting Facts about Crete
- Crete is one of the thirteen peripheries and administrative divisions of Greece.
- Crete is the largest island of Greece.
- In the past, Crete served as the centre of the Minoan civilization (c 2600 -1400 BC), the oldest form of Greek, and hence European, civilization.
- Heraklion is the capital of Crete.
- Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean.
- The people of Crete refer to themselves as Cretan, not Greek.
- Speaking in mythological terms, Crete is believed to be the place where Zeus grew up.
- Crete became a Roman province in 67 BC and the occupation continued for the next 400 years.
- After the Roman rule got over, Crete got incorporated into the Byzantine Empire.
- Arabs, Venetians and Turks are amongst those who ruled over the island of Crete.
- Crete was liberated in 1913, after which it took part in the Balcan Wars as well as the two World Wars.
- It was during the Second World War that Crete came under German occupation.
- Gortinos used to serve as the capital of Crete, during the Roman times.
- Chania is the second largest city in Crete.
- Ag Nikolaos is considered to be the most beautiful town of Crete.
- Crete is home to Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe.
- In terms of food, Stifado Salingariko - snail stew, and Chirino Kritiko - pork chops, are the specialties of Crete.
- Cretan olive oil is one of the best in Greece.
- Heraklion Harbor and Souda Bay Harbor are the two main harbors in Crete.
- Crete stands divided into 4 Nomoi or Prefectures and many Dimoi (Municipalities).
- Agriculture and tourism are the main economic activities of Crete.
- Crete is blessed with over 3000 caves.
- Some species are found only in Crete and nowhere else in the world.
- The European Union has listed several beaches on Crete as ‘blue flag’, which meant that these beaches are clean and equipped with health resorts.
- Greek physician, Hippocrates suggested that Crete’s air is beneficial in healing several illnesses.
- People in Crete are Greek Orthodox and their religion lays great emphasis on female goddesses associated with fertility and nature.
- Many festivals are celebrated in Crete especially during the summer season. Some of the significant festivals of Crete are the Sitia's Kornaria Festival, Kyrvia Festival in Lerapetra, Iraklio's Summer Arts Festival, Lato Festival in Agios Nikolas and Renaissance Festival in Rethymno.
- Cretans are well-known for their unique works on embroidery, art, jewellery, pottery and music. Important musical instruments include the violin, lyre and laouto. Dancing also forms an important part of their cultural heritage and some of Cretan’s dancing styles include Haniotikos, Pentozalis, Maleviziotiko and Pidihtos.