The Cities of Crete

The Cities of Crete

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The major cities of Crete were once strategically placed on specific coastal locations of the island to defend against invaders. With a history that starts in prehistoric times and harbours that have always connected the island with other ports of the Mediterranean, the Cretan cities today are modern urban centres that have kept the historical identity of the island alive after countless conquerors have called it their own. In the Middle Ages, the island of Crete passed from the Byzantines to the Arabs, back to the Byzantines and then to Venetians; each one introducing different architectural and cultural elements. Every summer, Crete welcomes thousands of visitors that wish to explore the cities, charming harbours and cultural attractions that seem to be present on every corner.

From the mansions of Chania to the Renaissance structures of Rethymno, the Great Castle of Heraklion, and the picturesque towns of Agios Nikolaos and Sitia – the home of Vicenzos Kornaros – every city in Crete has a distinct personality and colour and something unique to offer visitors.

Main Cities of Crete

Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos.

  • Chania – The Jewel in the Crown… built on the site of ancient Kydonia with its charming Venetian harbour and Egyptian lighthouse.
  • Rethymno – The Town of Knowledge… inhabited since the Late Minoan years and an important centre of the arts during the Cretan Renaissance.
  • Heraklion – The Gateway to Crete… with the magnificent Palace of Knossos.
  • Agios Nikolaos – The Picture Perfect Harbor Town… on the Gulf of Mirabello near the island of Spinalogka.
  • Sitia – The Gateway to the East… and home of Vitsentzos Kornaros that wrote the epic poem “Erotokritos”.
  • Ierapetra – The Southern Capital… with a beautiful medieval fortress and the highest year-round temperatures on the island.

Voulismeni lake in Agios Nikolaos

In addition to their natural beauty and charming architecture, these cities house important monuments and museums and are centres of contemporary cultural creations. Due to the diversity of the landscape and size of the island, it is impossible to explore all of Crete during one trip. There is simply no place like it, so you will not be disappointed whatever city you pick to base yourself in.

Find more information about the cities of Crete and popular attractions on the following pages.