Crete History

Crete island

There is no denying the multiple layers of history present on Crete island.

From the prehistoric years to the Minoan civilization and the Venetian, and Ottoman occupations, Crete has been a place many wanted to call home.

The myths, legends, and tales are just as many. This is the island where Zeus – Father of Gods and Men in Greek mythology, was born and took refuge in mountain caves. The myth of Europa, the beautiful mother of King Minos of Crete, that Zeus fell in love with is also set here; she is also the one after whom a whole continent has been named. Crete is also where, defying gravity, a man first flew – the ingenious Daedalus, creator of the famous Labyrinth with his son Icarus, trying to escape from the Minotaur.

These sections will briefly cover some of the most important periods in the history of Crete island. The Minoan Civilization, arguably one of the most sophisticated ancient civilizations, flourished between 3000 BC to 1450 BC and declined after the explosion of the volcano in modern-day Santorini.

In the Ancient Years, you will get an idea of a time when Greek city-states predominated. During the end of the Hellenistic period, Crete is cut off from the rest of the Hellenic world and its major centres are fiercely competing for dominance. Later, Apostle Paul will travel to Crete to spread the message of Christianity and a new era will begin on the island.

The Middle Ages are a time of change and struggle, with the island passing from the hands of the Byzantines, to the Arabs, back to the Byzantines, and then to the Venetians. By the 17th century, the last Venetian stronghold had fallen and a period of Ottoman rule began. This will last for almost 400 years until 1913 when Crete was reunited with Greece.

In Modern Times, Crete has continued to be synonymous with bravery and resistance to intruders. During World War II, the Battle of Crete played a significant role in delaying the Axis powers, before it fell. After the end of World War II, Crete started to become a major tourist destination and now attracts thousands of visitors.

Myths of Crete

Myths of Crete

Many of the best-known Greek myths are set in the island of Crete. At its peak, the Minoan civilization (2000 – 1450 BC), and together, the island of Crete, was the dominant force in the East Mediterranean. It maintained control of the seas in the region, and so managed to diffuse and exert influence on various regions around the Mediterranean. It is believed that some of these myths and identities from the early Minoan religion, found their way later into…

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Modern Times

Modern Times

After many unsuccessful attempts, the victorious uprising of the Cretans between 1896-1898 forced the Great Powers to pressure the Sultan to grant autonomy to Crete. This led to the creation of the semi-autonomous Cretan State with Prince George of Greece as High Commissioner and Chania as its capital.

Ottoman rule

Ottoman rule

The city of Heraklion, the last main Venetian stronghold on Crete, fell in 1669, after what was possibly the longest siege in history. Bloody struggles and uprisings against the Ottoman rule led to the autonomy of Crete in 1898. This period continued until 1913 when the island achieved union with the rest of Greece.

The Middle Ages on Crete

The Middle Ages on Crete

During the first centuries of the AD era and onto the Middle Ages, Crete passed from one hand to another, due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean. As a result, the islanders were in a constant struggle for their freedom, wishing to get rid of the harsh and brutal conditions imposed upon them by the conquerors. The island passed successively into the hands of the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Byzantines again and the Venetians, but it continued to safeguard…

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Ancient Times

Ancient Times

Over the years, Greek tribes from the hinterland gradually migrate to the island of Crete. The Minoan civilization entered its final stage of decline around 1300 BC and the island of Crete was plagued by natural disasters and destructive earthquakes.

Minoan Civilization

Minoan Civilization

The Neolithic presence on the island of Crete gives way to the wonders of the Minoan civilization. The name was bestowed upon this era by modern scholars, as a reference to the mythical King Minos, ruler of the kingdom and palace of Knossos.