Crete - one of the largest Mediterranean island, divided into 4 regions, the centers of which are major tourist destinations: Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lasithi. If you wish to explore Greece, Crete must be your first holiday destination, full of mysteries and wonders with many attractions of ancient Greek culture and mythology. Crete is the biggest island of Greece. You can find everything - wonderful beautiful beaches, flowering valleys and plateaus, small uninhabited islands, caves, unique mountain scenery.
The island of Crete was the center of Minoan civilization in Bronze-Age Greece that flourished from approximately 2200 to 1450 BCE. With a total area of 8336 square-kilometers, it is the largest of the Greek islands. Crete had 90 cities, of which Knossos was the largest and most important. It is believed that the island was divided into at least 8 political units during the height of Minoan civilization. The north is thought to have been governed from Knossos, the south from Phaistos, the east from Zakro and Mallia, and the west from Chania.
Crete is highly-appreciated for its rich history, the old traditions aνδ hospitable people, characteristics that are spread out all across Cretan villages. The stunning landscapes and scenery makes Crete one of the most outstanding destinations in Greece that draws attention of all visitors. The Cretan villages have ancient roots that go back in history. Many towns and villages have Venetian and Ottoman features, including castles, towers, stone bridges, churches and mosques. Other places located up in the mountains have a characteristic architecture with stone houses, redtiled roofs, narrow streets, flowered gardens and always a square with a church in the center of every village.
Beaches in Crete are beautiful and provide hundreds from the north of the Aegean Sea to the south of the Lybian Sea are very popular in the summer season. The most exotic beaches are Balos, Elafonisi with a crystal Carribean-like water, palm beaches of Preveli and Vai, Matala, Lendas and more paradise places.
Churches and Monasteries in Crete with its history in Christian Orthodox religion, has been celebrated for over 1600 years. Monks and Nuns still practice a monastic life in many monasteries. Also you the possibility to visit them. There are many monasteries on the island in each prefecture of Crete such as Arkadi Monastery, Panagia, Odigitria, Katholikon, Kaliviani, Toplou and many others.
There are about 50 gorges and around the white Mountains only. Every gorge has its own nature and character walking through only to explore the amazing land cliffs and scenery.
What Crete offers
Crete is famous for its traditional products. Most of the products are produced all over Crete.
The right climate on the island helps to produce fresh fruits and vegetables. Known for their quality are oranges, mandarins, tomatoes, watermelons and much more.
Cretan Oil is the best in quality due to the climate which helps the development of olive trees. Also proven the most healthiest olive oil in the world.
Cretan Wine are produced in each prefecture in different varieties very good in taste and quality.
Local cheese in Crete is popular not only in Greece but throughout the world. Cheese such as graviera, kefalograviera, kafalotyri, anthotiro, sweet and sour mizythra and other cheeses which are produced in the traditional way.
Cretan Honey is the most aromatic and the bees are fed from bushes that only grown in Crete. It’s certainly the best.
Mountain Tea is a tea which all local Cretans drink when the weather gets cooler. They boil it in water and drink it. Helps case if you have a cold or sore throat. Herbs and spices are also found in area of mountains and not only, natural and tasty for ingredients.
Crete many years now still carry out their customs and traditions and they love to celebrate.
There is almost an event of feast somewhere on the island. They are organized every year and here are some events you must visit :
Wine Festival – where you drink excellent traditional local wine with everybody and celebrate with very good Cretan music and watch Cretan dancing. Mostly in July and best known are in Rethymnon, Chania and the village Dafnes near Heraklion. In 15th August at the village of Houdetsi.
Cheese Festival – at the village Zoniana to see and taste the biggest cheese of the world and local recipes during around middle of July. Also organized in the town Sfakia, south west of Crete.
Pottery Festival – in Thrapsano a village some 30 km south east of Heraklion every 17 July honor potters and you can watch the traditional pottery art and choose from a variety of utensils.
Grape Festival – During the first two weeks of August Sitia holds a sultana-grape festival accompanied by many festivities.
Raki Distillation or Kazani in many old villages where they celebrate and feast whilst distilling the traditional homemade Cretan drink Raki or Tsikoudia. It is made during October and November after the grapes harvest when the vines have been pured.
August 15th - is the largest religious festival in Crete island, on the occasion of the Dormition of Virgin Mary. Almost all villages have a chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary and organize feasts that day. The most popular feasts on August 15th are in the Monastery of Panagia Chrissoskalitissa in Chania and in the Byzantine church of Panagia Kera in Lassithi.
Matala Festival – A big music festival in Matala south of Crete every June where famous greek and foreign artists give their best to entertain the crowds of people who want to celebrate.
Carnival – a festival of fun and masquerade for everybody. Marks also the beginning of fasting period before Easter. The best known are in Rethymnon, Malia and Kissamos.