Crete is the most mythical and prominent of the Greek
islands. An island with indefinite variety, that will
satisfy every visitor with its nature's beauty.
Picturesque resorts to relax and enjoy the sea,
wonderful unspoiled beaches with crystal-clear water,
idyllic paths on the mountains, rural villages with
traditional lifestyles, ancient ruins, old towns with
Venetian and Turkish monuments, will make a traveller
wishing to come back.
So much of what we know of Minoan history in
crete island is nothing more than a good guess, and good
guesses are, I should warn, especially prone to being
wrong. The archaeological evidence points to only a few
reasonable certainties about Minoan history in Crete
island Greece. Around 3000 BC, Crete - Greece was
settled by a people who probably came from Asia Minor,
who, by 2000 BC was already living in cities, trading
with other nations in the Mediterranean, and employing a
hieroglyphic system of writing, probably derived from
Egyptian hieroglyphics. This hieroglyphic writing would
eventually evolve into a linear script. They built
magnificent palace centers at Knosos, Phaistos, and Kato
Zakros; these palaces seem to have dominated Cretan
society. We have no idea what language they spoke, but
they certainly spoke a non-Hellenic language (that is, a
language not closely related to Greek) and probably
spoke a non-Indo-European language. Homer, writing
almost eight hundred years after the collapse of the
Aegean palace civilizations, in Book Nine of The
Odyssesy gives a list of people living on Crete; among
that group he lists are the "Eteo-Cretans," who are
probably the original Minoans. This group persists as an
independent group until around 140 BC; their language,
Eteo-Cretan, was probably a near relative of the
language of the Minoans. The Greeks called non-Hellenic
languages "barbaric," from the word "barbar," which
means "speaking nonsense" ("bar bar bar bar"). They
called people who spoke barbaric languages, "barbarians";
so the Greek s in many ways distinguished themselves
from other people by the language they spoke. The
Eteo-Cretans, then, originators of Greek civilization
itself, had become the barbarians in the Greek world.
All archaeological evidence suggests that the Cretan
states of the first half of the second millenium BC were
bureaucratic monarchies. While the government was
dominated by priests and while the monarch seemed to
have some religious functions, the principle role of the
monarch seemed to be that of "chief entrepreneur," or
better yet, CEO of the Cretan state. For the Cretans
operated their state as a business, and entrepreneurship
seemed to be the order of the day. While the bulk of the
population enjoyed the wealth of international trading,
the circumstances of that trade was tightly controlled
from the palace. Beneath the king was a large
administration of scribes and bureaucrats who carefully
regulated production and distribution both within the
state and without. This administration kept incredibly
detailed records, which implies that they exercised a
great deal of control over the economy. In order to
facilitate trade, the Cretans and their Aegean relatives
developed the most advanced navy that had ever been seen.
While scholars earlier believed that Crete must have
been a "thalossocracy," that is, a "sea power," that
view has been seriously challenged. The Cretans probably
did not develop a military navy, as did the Egyptians,
but concentrated solely on trade and mercantilism. They
did build what looks like warships, but it seems that
these warships were most likely mercantile ships with
the capability of defense against pirates. Their trade
was extensive. The Egyptians were highly familiar with
the Cretans, who even appear in Egyptian art. Cretan
artifacts turn up all over Asia Minor, and they seem to
have been involved in trade with the tribal clans living
on the Greek mainland. All of this concentrated
mercantile activity produced great wealth for the
Cretans, which went into massive building projects, art,
and technological development. The Cretans, for instance,
seem to be the only people in the ancient world that
would construct multi-room buiidings for a large part of
society including even the poorest people. The common
household in the ancient world, of course, was a single
room (this would be the norm up until the 1600's in
Europe. The Cretans were the first to build a plumbing
system in their buildings (a technology that was
forgotten when Cretan society collapsed). And Cretan
society seems to be the first "leisure" society in
existence, in which a large part of human activity
focussed on leisure activities, such as sports. In fact,
the Cretans seem to have been as sports addicted as
modern Americans; the most popular sports were boxing
and bull-jumping. Women actively participated in both of
these sports. The immense concentration of wealth in
such a small population led to an explosion of visual
arts, as well. Unlike the bulk of the ancient world, the
Minoans developed a visual Greek culture that seems to
have been solely oriented around visual pleasure, rather
than visual utility, political, religious, or otherwise.
The concentration of wealth produced another singular
phenomenon in the ancient world: social equality. In
general, the move to urbanization is a traumatic move.
Society ceases to be organized around kinship lines and
begins to be organized around "class," that is, economic
function. This always means social inequality, as the
more "professional" classes (usually bureaucrats) enjoy
more privileges and wealth. In Crete - Greece, however,
the wealth seems to have been spread pretty liberally.
In the excavated city of Gournia, we can discern easily
the "poor" parts of town; even there, however, people
are living in four, five, and six room houses veritable
mansions in the Middle East or Egypt. So life was pretty
good for just about everyone. In addition, there seems
to have been no inequality along gender lines, although
we can't fully construct the gender relations in ancient
Crete - Greece. The architecture of the palaces and
cities have one more singularity. Unlike any other major
cities or palaces, the palaces and towns of the Cretans
seem to have no defensive works whatsoever throughout
much of their history. This understanding of Cretan
society, however, is being seriously revised as city
defensive works are being uncovered. These newly found
defensive works, however, are not of the size and
strength of other Asian and later Mycenean defensive
works. The presence of only a small amount of defensive
works in the archaeological record leads us to a
tentative conclusion: the Minoans throughout much of
their history were relatively secure from attack, though
these attacks seem to have occured sporadically. This
conclusion helps to explain every other aspect of Minoan
history: their concentration of economic resources on
mercantilism, their generous distribution of wealth
among their people, and, unfortunately, their downfall.
The downfall of the Cretans was a slow and painful
process as near as we can tell. After five centuries of
prosperity, the palace centers were destroyed by an
earthquake in 1500 BC. The cataclysm may have been more
serious. Around 1500 to 1450 BC, the island of
Strongphyle, a volcano, erupted in an explosion four to
five times greater than the explosion of Krakatoa in
1883. This explosion fragmented the island into several
small islands, and the caldera of the volcano is
centered on the island of Thera; therefore, the event is
called the Thera eruption. Based on the size of the
caldera, the eruption was somewhere equivalent to 600 to
700 tons of TNT .Archaeological evidence suggests the
explosion was not unexpected; on the island of Thera,
the Cycladic city of Akrotiri was abandoned by its
inhabitants shortly before the eruption. The earthquake
activity preceding the explosion levelled several Minoan
cities in the islands surrounding Strongphyle, and
probably levelled Knosos as well. But the eruption
itself would have produced tidal waves that would have
destroyed all the palaces and cities on the northern
coast of Crete island Greece, including Knosos. We
aren't certain, however; it has been argued that the
explosion of Thera occurred in 1200 BC, since there is
little evidence that the palace cities were destroyed by
anything other than an earthquake. Whatever happened,
the Minoans, weakened by this catastrophe, seem to have
been conquered by the Myceneans, who, influenced by the
Aegean civilizations, had developed their own
civilization on the Greek mainland. We know the
Myceneans control the show after 1500 BC because a new
style of writing dominates Cretan culture sometime
between 1500 and 1400 BC. Called "Linear B" script, this
writing is conclusively an early form of Greek, but it
employs the earlier script (Linear A) of the Minoans. It
seems the Myceneans employed Minoan bureaucrats and
scribes to carry on business, but in a language they
understood, that is, Greek. The Myceneans, however, seem
to have adopted Minoan civilization comfortably rather
than imposing their own more imposing culture. But in
1400, another wave of Myceneans put an end to the palace
civilization on Crete island Greece for all time.
Getting there and getting around : Crete is
connected -by sea- to the other parts of Greece, from
five ports, at the North of the island: heraklion,
Chania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia.
are daily boat departures to and from Athens in the
afternnonor in the evening. The duration of the trip
varies from 6 to 10 hours, depending on the schedule and
the boat, a deck class ticket costs about 25 and a berth
in a 4-bed cabin about 44.
Four companies are
operating ferry schedules to and from Athens: Anek Lines
(Rethymno at 8p.m, Hania at 9pm and Iraklion 8.30pm,
duration of trip 10 hours), Minoan Lines (Iraklion at
10pm and sometimes also at 12pm , duration of trip 9 or
6 hours), Blue Star Ferries (from Hania at 11.30pm, to
Hania at 4pm, duration of trip about 6 hours) and Lane
Lines (Ag. Nikolaos and Sitia). There are also boats to
and from Thessaloniki and many Greek islands.
Crete there are two airports, at Hania and Iraklion. Two
airline companies operate direct domestic direct flights
to Athens, Thessaloniki and Rhodes: Olympic Airways and
Aegean-Cronus airlines. Many direct charter and
scheduled flights (mostly during the tourist period),
operate to many European cities. Buses, operated by
KTEL, run frequently between the major towns and less
efficiently to villages, beaches and other places of
Travelling by Bus may involve a change of bus at the
major bus stations of Iraklion, Hania, Rethymno, Ag.
Nikolaos, Sitia and Ierapetra. Within each region there
are services between the capital and the smaller towns,
villages, or other places of interest. Tickets can be
bought from the bus stations, or inside the bus and
should be kept until the end of the journey, in case of
inspector's control. Tickets for local buses, inside the
towns, should be bought from the bus station, or kiosks.
Public bus schedules to the villages, not of common
tourist interest, may not be convenient or sufficient
for travellers, but organized tours, operated by travel
agencies, car rental or taxi hiring could be an
alternative way to visit every place of interest. Taxis
in Crete can be easily found at taxi ranks, stopped in
the street, or called by phone (an extra charge would be
They have meters, but prices can also
be fixed for the most common destinations and should be
checked before setting off. Rates to all main towns from
Iraklion's airport are displayed in the airport, in and
outside the domestic arrival hall. Around the island
there are many agencies that rent cars, motorcycles and
Distances : Hania to Rethymno 56 km, Rethymno to
Iraklion 78km, Iraklion to Ag. Nikolaos 64 km.
Tourist information : At the offices of E. O. T. (Greek
Tourist Organisation). No room reservations, only
information about Crete, places of interest, activities,
transport schedules, routes.
Free maps of Crete
and the major towns. Some information about other parts
Telephone : In Greece the telephone
office (O.T.E, daily 8am-10pm) is separate from the post
office. Phone calls from public phone stands or OTE's
offices, can be made only with phone cards (Tilekarta,
3). Prepaid phone cards (Teledome, Vivodi, Smartalk,
Talk Talk, Hronokarta, with prices from 3 to 10) can be
bought at kiosks or mini markets, charge less and can be
used from any fixed public or private tone phone.
Phoning home is cheaper from 3-5pm and 10pm-8am on the
weekdays and from 3pm at Saturday till 8am Monday (Greek
time). Transferred calls can be operated through the
operator, dialling 161.
Telegrams can be sent
from OTE's offices and faxes from OTE, travel agencies
and hotels. Emergency phone: 100.
(ELTA) : Main offices, in the bigger towns are open Mon-Sat
8am-8pm. Letter boxes are painted yellow and can be
found in the most central locations in towns and
Stamps can be bought from main post
offices or from kiosks and shops selling postcards and
foreign newspapers, with a small premium being charged.
Medical treatment : Towns and the main tourist resorts
have a public hospital (First aid phone: 166) and
private medical centers. There is always a pharmacy
staying open from 8a.m. to 8p.m. and another one from
8p.m. to 8a.m. Lists of these pharmacies, for each day,
can be found on the window of any pharmacy.
person in holiday, during the summer, should apply high
factor sun cream regurarly, especially in the first days.
Babies under six months old should be kept out of direct
sunlight. Special attention should be paid for the hours
between 11a.m. and 3p.m. when the sun is at its hottest.
Weather : The climate is mild mediterranean,
with long hot dry summers and mild winters. The weather
is generally very warm and from April to late October
the daytime is gifted by sunshine.
The summer temperature can be moderated by often strong
fresh winds, called meltemia. The rain season starts at
the end of November till the mid of March, while snow
can fall only on the mountains.
The sea is warm
enough to swim from mid April until November. The
maximum sea temperature at summer is 24 C and in winter
16C. The average yearly temperature on Crete -19C- is
the highest in Greece.
Money : Euro, the european
currency of the EMU zone, has taken the place of drachma,
the Greek currency, since 1 January 2002.
are 7 euro notes in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50,
20, 10 and 5 euros, and 8 euro coins denominated in 2
and 1 euros, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Every
euro coin carries a common European face, on the one
side, while on the obverse, each member state decorates
the coins with their own motifs. Foreign currency can be
exchanged at banks, travel agencies, exchange bureaus,
the Post Office, OTE's office.
Other Information : Some beaches can be dangerous if the
weather is windy, especially for people that are not
familiar with that specific sea. Swimmers, during these
windy days, should pay special attention to the red flag
notification of strong under-currents, that could
exhaust and panic them, by taking them away from the
In a case like this, swimmers should stay
calm and not to panic. Country roads can be narrow and
with many turns. Drive always with fastened your seat
The most magnificent collection of Minoan
art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and
completeness is housed in the Museum of Iraklion, a
modern building specifically designed for this purpose.
The original Museum was built between 1904 and 1912 at
the urging of two Cretan archaeologists, Iosif
Hadzidakis and Stefanos Xanthoudides, Curators of the
It continued in use until
1937 when work began on the present earthquake-proof
building. During the world war II, the museum suffered
considerably damage, but, thanks to the precautions
taken by prof. N. Platon, the collection survived. In
1915 the task of rearranging the exhibits was begun by
prof. Platon, and in 1952, the collection was once again
on display to the public. In the new wing that was added
in 1964 the present director, S. Alexiou, completed the
arranging of the exhibits.
There are twenty rooms- galleries on the ground and
first floors and the usual visit takes at least two
hours but , of course, several days are necessary for
the visitor who wishes to linger and study more
carefully the exhibits, which cover a period of 5,000
years, from neolithic era to Graeco Roman period. The
archaeological site of Knossos is sited 5 km southeast
of the city of Iraklion. There is evidence that this
location was inhabited during the neolithic times (6000
B.C.) . On the ruins of the neolithic settlement was
built the first Minoan palace (1900 B.C.) where the
dynasty of Minos ruled. This was destroyed in 1700 B.C
and a new palace built in its place. The palace covered
an area of 22,000sq.m, it was multi- storeyed and had an
Due to this fact the Palace is
connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of
the Labyrinth with the Minotaur.Between 1.700-1.450 BC,
the Minoan civilisation was at its peak and Knossos was
the most important city-state. During these years the
city was destroyed twice by earthquakes (1.600 BC, 1.450
BC) and rebuilted.
The city of Knossos had 100.000 citizens and it
continued to be an important city-state until the early
Byzantine period. Knossos gave birth to famous men like Hersifron and his son Metagenis, whose creation was the
temple of Artemis in Efesos, the Artemisio, one of the
seven wonders of the ancient world.
The site was
discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos. The
excavations in Knossos begun in 1.900 A.D. by the
English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851- 1941) and
his team, and they continued for 35 years. 43 km from
the city of Chania, this is the longest gorge in Europe,
measuring some 18 kilometers and well-known for its
At some points the passage is
just 3 meters wide and at times the steep sides rise to
a height of 600 meters. The gorge is cut by a stream
which flows between the highest peak of the White
Mountains and the mountain of Volikas. Hiking down the
gorge is permitted from May to the end of October,
depending on the weather.
At the entrance to the gorge, at Xiloskalo there is a
tourist pavilion with a view of majestic mountain of
Gigolos (alt. 2,083 m.). On leaving the gorge, one
encounters the village of Agia Roumeli, where one can
take a launch to Chora Sfakion and catch a bus back to
Chania. The road from Chania to the entrance of the
gorge traverses picturesque lowland and mountain
villages. At the village of Omalos and the Omalos
mountain range one will find rooms for rent and a number
The archaeological site of Gortyn is
located on the main road that runs to south central
Crete from the capital Heraklion. The original
settlement covered an area of approximately 10 km.
Gortyn is one of the most important ancient cities
of prehistoric Crete. Whilst its story goes back as far
as the Minoan period, one particularly important period
was that which followed the occupation of Crete by the
Dorians (1100 BC). Later, during the Roman occupation
(68 BC), Gortyn was the largest city in Crete with
300.000 inhabitants. The city was destroyed in 828 AD by
Crete / History
Period (7000-3000 BC). Crete was settled from 7000 BC,
or earlier, first in the east part. People were living
in caves, rocky refuges, or small rectangular houses,
built by stone and mudbrick, as it can be seen from the
underground Neolithic remainders of Festos and Knossos,
which was the largest Neolithic settling in Europe and
Stone was used for their tools and
weapons, necessary for their defence and survival. The
economy was marine and agricultural and pottery appeared,
in the beginning with dark smoked decoration and later
with incised geometrical patterns filled with white or
The female statue figurines that were
found, in steatopygous shapes, show that these first
inhabitants were believing in a female goddess,
representing fertility, probably goddess Earth.
The Bronze Age - The Minoan Civilization (3000-1100 BC).
The Neolithic period ended by a gradual infiltration of
new settlers, first in the east and central part of the
island and later in the west.
In these years the
island met the most significant development becoming a
marine, trade and art creation center. The people were
farmers, shepherds and mainly marines, with notable
merchant relations with Asia, Africa and the Cyclades.
The civilization that was developed was named Minoan,
after the legendary King Minos, by the English
archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, during his excavations
at the Palace of Knossos. He sorted this era in three
main periods with three subdivisions on each of them:
Early Minoan 1 - 2 - 3, Middle Minoan 1 - 2 - 3, Late
Minoan 1 - 2 - 3.
This period is now sorted
according to the chronological system of the Greek
archaeologist N. Platonas, based on the time-span of the
big Minoan palaces, to the following periods :
The Prepalatial Period (3000-1900 BC). The
characteristic of this period is the gathering of the
people in villages and towns by the sea, mainly in the
east, instead of the dispersed habitation in caves and
shelters of the Neolithic years.
The houses have
more rooms and are better built. The development of art
is remarkable for this era. The pottery is handmade,
fired, painted and decorated with various geometric
shapes or animal icons.
The tools and weapons are
made in the beginning by stone, later by bronze. The
dead are buried in caves, like in the Neolithic period,
but later the first built tombs appear, others with
square stones and others with a circular domed shape.
A huge cemetery of pit graves was found at Agia
Fotia, in East Crete. It is believed that the religion
was the same as in the Neolithic years. Hundreds of
inscriptions of this period, that were found during the
excavations, cannot be translated, until there will be
discovered a bilingual inscription, that will give the
key to the interpretation of that writing.
Old Palace or Protopalatial Period (1900-1700 BC).
Big towns are founded and the first big palaces
are built (Knossos, Festos, Malia). The palaces are
built around a central open court with buildings of many
They included big rooms for social
functions, the private rooms of the authorities, the
houses of the workers, workshops, storerooms, theatres,
baths, sewage facilities. Big sanctuaries are founded in
caves, on the top of mountains and in the palaces.
Goddess Mother Earth is adored, symbolised by the double
The Hieroglyphic writing is appearing on
labels and tablets, as well as the art of the seal
engraver. The pottery is developed by introduction of
the potter's wheel, with real masterpieces the
thin-walled (egg-shell ware) multicoloured vases (Kamares
style) and the goldsmith's art becomes technically
perfect with jewellery of various designs and rich
decoration. The catastrophe comes with big earthquakes.
The New Palace or Neopalatial Period (1700-1380 BC).
The prosperity of the civilization and the political
power of the Minoan Crete. The island becomes united,
with it's capital being Knossos and its power is
expanding, with trading relations with Minor Asia, Egypt
and Cyprus, with strong influences on the mainland of
Greece, the Cycladic islands, Rhodes and Kos islands and
colonies on the islands of Kea, Milos and Santorini (Akrotiri
site) and perhaps Sicily.
These colonies were
achieved not by wars, but with merchant stations. The
protection of these colonies from the pirates and other
enemies is being ensured by the minoan navy, the power
of which is acclaimed by Greek historians.
palaces are rebuilt or becoming more luxury, with the
decoration of sculptures and fresco paintings, like the
famous ladies of the court, the dolphins, the dancers
and the king of priests. These buildings were to be
admired not only for their architecture, rich decoration
and building art, but also for the methods in hygiene
and decency of their hydraulic and sewage systems.
The main palaces are those of Knossos, Festos, Malia
and Zakros and smaller ones are appearing (Arhanes, Agia
Triada, Tylisos and others). The remains of these
palaces that can be visited now in Crete, are of this
period. Roads are being opened and bridges are being
built. The prosperity is appearing in every form of art:
in pottery, sculpture (Goddess of the Snakes), plastic
arts, vase making, fresco painting, sculptured seal
stones, decoration in metal weapons and tools, small
details show the achievement of perfection.
graves become monumental, real buildings of subterranean
residence, with roads to the entrance and halls with
columns where the ceremony was taking place. The normal
graves are dome shaped or deep holes, with the dead
being buried with objects of normal life, revealing the
faith of Minoans to life after death and potential
The political authority was King
Minos, which was the name of the first emperor, the
mythical son of Zeus and Europe, but in the following
years the name of each emperor of the island during the
Minoan years, in the same like the name of Caesar became
the title for the Roman emperors.
Minos was also
the high priest, the representative of god Minotavros,
according to the myth given birth by Pasiphae, the wife
of Minos, after her relationship with the bull that came
from the sea as a present to Minos by the sea god,
Poseidon. Minotavros, always according to the myth, was
staying in the Labyrinth, its "holy house", being built
by the famous mechanic Dedalos.
In writing mainly
is used Linear A script. It has not been clear yet why
the Minoan palaces were deserted: by a volcanic eruption
that happened at Santorini island, bringing a tidal wave,
by earthquakes, by fire destruction at the Minoan sites,
or from the human invasion from the mainland of Greece.
The Postpalatial period (1380-1100 BC). After the
invasion from the mainland of Greece, many towns had
been destroyed or deserted, especially at the east of
The old inhabitants are moving to the
west, while the invaders settle to the island
increasingly, building their new habitations in the
place of the old ones, or establishing new settlements.
The activity in the island is continued with
architecture, pottery, metallurgy, decorative arts, but
becoming repetitive, in contrast of the great diversity
of the earlier years.
The last years of this
period are characterized from a general decadence due to
the continuing colonization by other people from Greece,
who brought their own culture and customs..
Early Iron Age (1100-650 BC). After the Dorian invasion
from Peloponnese, the most of the old cities are
deserted and the majority of the population moved to
inaccessible mountain shelters, interrupting
communication with the outside world.
period (650-500 BC). The population of the island
increases, with the infiltration of the Dorians,
especially in the West of Crete.
New towns are
being established, like Axos, Falasarna, Polyrinia,
Yrtakina and the population in others, like Eleftherna
and Kydonia is increasing. This period is characterized
by the prosperity of the Dedalic style of sculpture, by
successors of students of the mythical Dedalos.
The Classical and Hellenistic Periods (500-69 BC).
Greece develops, but this does not happen with Crete,
with the towns being in antagonism or fighting each
other. The population of the island increases.
The Roman Period and the first Byzantine Years (69
BC-824 AC). The Romans lost the war against Crete in 71
BC, but 2 years later they came back with more army and
The island was occupied after three years
resistance, with the Romans accomplishing their desire
to conquer the famous birthplace of Zeus. During the
period of Pax Romana the island prospers and develops
with trade. It's capital became Gortys.
63-66 AC, Christianity comes to Crete and the first
Christian church is being established in Crete, at
Gortys, by bishop Titos. With the division of the Roman
Empire in East and West, Crete became a separate
The Arab Occupation and the Byzantine
Years (824-1204).In 824, Crete was captured by Arab
raiders, who ravaged the island, destroyed Gortys and
other towns, burned every basilica church and succeeded
to many atrocities against the Greek population.
To protect from the relief expeditions of the Byzantines,
they built their capital, El Khandak, where today is the
site of Iraklion. Crete, because of its position had
become the slave-trading capital of the East
Mediterranean and a constant threat for the Byzantine
After many unsuccessful expeditions,
Nikiforos Fokas recaptured the island in 961, demolished
the walls of El Khandak, so that they could not be
useful to new pirates and reinvigorated with different
ways the much-depleted Christian community.
administrative center was re-established on the ruins of
El Khandak, renamed to Handakas.
In the end of
the 12th century, new settlers were sent to Crete from
Consantinople, headed by 12 aristocrats, that created
the new Cretan aristocracy.
The Venetian Period
(1204-1669).With the capture of Constantinople with the
Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Empire was divided. Crete
was given to Boniface of Monferat, who sold the island
to Venice, in 1204.
The Venetians kept Handakas
as the capital and built castles in different parts in
the island. The Greek bishop was sent away and the Latin
bishops were established, but without annoying the lower
Orthodox clergy and religion. Many orthodox churches and
chapels were built, that can be visited today throughout
the island. The earth was taken from the people and was
given to Venetian knights, with the former owners
Taxes and labour obligation made
life very difficult. The venetian occupation could not
be accepted from the Cretan people and their independent
character. The continuous revolts for many years,
brought a hard repression and tortures.
fall of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, many Greeks
moved to Crete and the Byzantine culture was
strengthened. Because of the Turkish threat and their
attacks, Venetians and Cretans managed to co-exist, with
the island appearing significant economical and cultural
Great artists of the period were, in icon
painting, Michail Damaskinos and Domenico Theotokopoulos,
who left Crete to work abroad, finally going to Toledo,
Spain, where he became famous as El Greco and, in
literature and theater, Vitsentzos Kornaros from Sitia,
Georgios Hortatzis from Rethymno and others, unknown
The Turks with continuous expeditions
will try to capture the island. In 1645, they capture
Hania and Rethymno and in 1669, after 22-year siege,
Candia was forced to surrender, as Iraklion was called
by the Venetians.
The Turkish Occupation
(1669-1898).Crete was divided in 3 sections, based on
Iraklion, Rethymno and Hania. The occupation was the
hardest one the island had met: killings, raping,
unbearable taxation, violent inslamation and slavery,
made that the revolts became a way of life.
the Big Revolt of 1821 for Independence, in Greece, all
the big revolts in the island did not end successfully.
The London's protocol on 1830, establishing Greece as an
independent country, was not including Crete.
last protest of the Cretan council to the Christian
European countries, on 1830, was ending like this: "Here
is Crete, the kingdom of Minos, that gave the first laws
in the world, many sciences and arts... It preserved
under the Greek name, over 3000 years, it's children,
who abandoned from their brother Christians, after a ten
year exterminating war to get rid of the dreadful
tyranny, become again victims of the cruelty of the
inhuman Turks." Crete was sold by the Turkish sultan to
Egypt, starting a new period of dynasty and misfortunes.
In 1841, after Egypt's unsuccessful revolt against
Turkey, all Egypt's possessions were left to the Turks.
The Cretans continued fighting for their freedom, with
the most tragic being the revolt of 1866, which ended to
the blowing-up of Arkadi Monastery.
and endless wars continued until 1898, when the four
Great Powers, England, France, Russia and Italy imposed
as a solution to the Cretan problem the autonomy of
Crete under Ottoman suzerainty, under the terms of
complete withdrawal of the Turkish army from the island.
Modern History (1898- ). In 1908 the army of the
four Powers left the island, after the insistence of
Crete to unite with Greece and in 1913 the island became
an integral part of Greece.
Agriculture and trade
started to prosper, untill 1941, when the Germans
occupied the island, until 1945. In recent years,
agriculture, trade, industry and tourism have brought
the island a remarkable development.