Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Crete consists of the island itself as Crete greecewell as a number of surrounding islands and islets. The largest city and capital of Crete is Heraklion.

The first human settlement in Crete dates back 130,00 years ago during the Paleolithic age. It is known that during the aceramic Neolithic age in the 7th millenium BC used dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle. They also had domesticated cereals and legumes. Crete was the site of Europe’s first advanced civilization: the Minoan civilization. Legends of King Minos, Theseus, and the Minotaur come from this early Crete history. It is thought that the downfall of the Minaon civilization was the eruption of Thera. The Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenaean civilization in 1420 BC. Crete went through many different rulers including: Roman rule, Arab rule, Venetian rule, and Ottoman rule. The Cretan Revolt (1866 – 1869) was a three-year uprising against Ottoman rule. Repeated uprisings would occur over the years and in 1908 Cretan deputies declared union with Greece though this wasn’t officially recognized internationally until December of 1913.

Crete has a rich mythology that is connected to the Minoan civilization and Greek gods. Greek mythology says that Zeus was born at the Diktaean Cave at Mount Dikti, the goddess Athena is said to have bathed in Lake Voulismeni, and goddess Artemis and god Apollo were born at the Paximadia Islands. God Zeus, in trying to protect the island of Crete, would throw a lightning bolt at a giant lizard. This lizard would turn to stone and become the island of Dia.

Throughout the modern period, Cretans have made important contributions to Greek literature. They have their own poetry called Mantinades. There is also Mantinades-based music.

Administrative Region of Crete Island, Greece

Crete region

Area of Crete Island, Greece

8,335.88 km2 (3,218.50 sq mi)

Population of Crete Island, Greece


Top Attractions of Crete Island, Greece

  • Gramvoussa Castle – Located near the city of Chania. The history of the castle dates back to the 16th Explore the fortress and the views offered.
  • Istro Beach –  This beach is found near Lassithia. Blue water and fine sand make this beach enjoyable, not to mention the how beautiful the area is. A family friendly and organized beach.
  • Venetian Harbor – Located in the northern part of the island in Rethymno. Tour the old town district and historic castle. Harbor also features a historic lighthouse and old stone walls.
  • Historical Museum of Crete – Located in Heraklion. Artifacts and art from early Christian era to present. Museum also features two El Greco paintings and Venetian gold jewelry.
  • Vai Beach – Found on the eastern side of the island. This beach features Cretan date palm trees and sandy shores. A secluded, well-maintained beach with snack bars and coffee spots on site.
  • The Palace of Knossos – The largest and most well-known of the Minoan castles on Crete. One of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Explore the grounds on your own or take a guided tour.
  • Minoan Castle – Located in the south-central area of Crete. The smallest of the four palaces on Crete. Great place to learn about Minoan civilization.
  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum – Features treasures uncovered at Knossos. Artifacts date back 3,000 years. One of the top exhibits is the frescos.
  • Moni Preveli Monastery – Was once the center of the anti-Ottoman resistance. Burned by the Turks in 1866. Also served as a shelter during WWII for Allied soldiers after the battle of Crete.
  • Preveli Beach – Located below the Moni Preveli Monastery. Palm-lined river banks and clear freshwater pools. This beach sits at the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge.