Crete, largest of the Greek islands, is a world of its own and a place of unique fascination, with its magnificent and varied scenery, the distinctive character of its people and the impressive remains of Europe’s first advanced civilization.
The island’s fertile soil and towering peaks witnessed the development of one of the most important civilizations, the Minoan (2800-1150 BC). Crete has many remains of the past from the different periods of its history, Minoan palaces, Byzantine churches, Turkish mosques, Venetian fortifications and strongholds. Today it continues to live fully and develop; its cities are developing rapidly, in sharp contrast to the many unchanging villages, where life still goes on in the same way it has for centuries.
Crete is renowned for the variety of its vegetation and the wildlife in its chestnut, oak and cypress forests. Not to mention its palm forests (at Vai and Preveli) and its cedar forests (at Gavdos and Hrissi).
Medicinal herbs and fragrant shrubs – laudanum, dittany, marjoram and thyme – grow in rocky areas and the mountaintops are home to the “kri-kri” or Cretan wild goat.
Not least among the attractions of Crete is its scenery: the Lassithi plateau with windmills, mountains, gorges, palm forests, caves and long stretches of beautiful coast. All this beauty is set among luscious vineyards, with orange, lemon and olive groves and thousands of species of wild flowers. The tiny villages nestling on hillsides and the lovely beaches make this a perfect setting for a memorable experience.
The main cities-ports on Crete – Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia – all grew up on the north side, which is more benign topographically. Ierapetra is the only port on the south coast, on the shores of the Libyan Sea, facing Africa.
The hospitable and friendly people and the colorful background is something that enchants every visitor who comes to Crete.