- Category: ROUTE 11
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own dialect, poetry, and music). Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC)
It is separated in 4 prefectures: Chania, Heraklion, Lassithi and Rethymno. The island has everything to offer: mountainous landscapes, a coast with many beautiful beaches and rocky coves, beautiful towns and charming villages and harbors, excellent food, ruins like Knossos, of the Minoan Civilization, one of the greatest civilization ever, an exciting nightlife. The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century B.C., repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It is also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.
The Mycenaean Greek name for Crete is unknown. The name Crete first appears in Homer's Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothesized Luvian word *kursatta 'island'. In Latin, it became Creta. The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš, but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at Rabḍ al-ḫandaq (modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as Khandhax or Khandhakas, which became Latin and Venetian Candia, thence French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (as recorded by Piri Reis).
CHANIA: The region of Chania, situated in western Crete, occupies a very important place in the history of Crete. Historians say that Chania was the exact location for the ancient Minoan establishment of Kydonia, a flourishing town.
After the disappearance of the Minoan civilization, the area declined and flourished again in the 14th century, when it was conquered by the Venetians. The Venetians have left their vivid mark in the region, mostly in Chania town. Most of the elegant mansions that can be found in the Old Town of Chania date from that era, while the Venetian lighthouse in the Old Port has become over the years the trademark of the town. Those times, the region flourished out of trade and arts were developed.
The Venetian period of Chania ended in 1645, when it was conquered by the Ottomans. Remains of the Ottoman period still survive in Chania Town, such as the Ottoman Baths and some mosques, with the mosque of Kioutsouk Hanan being the most notable.
Apart from Chania Town, the entire region is also breathtaking. The sandy beaches, the mountains villages, the seaside hamlets, the pure nature, the Byzantine monasteries spread along the inland, all create a fantastic background to explore.
HERAKLION: The prefecture of Heraklion Greece is one of the four prefectures which form the Greek island of Crete. Its capital is the town of Heraklion, which is also the capital of the island. It is the economical center of the island. Located between the prefecture of Rethymno and the one of Lassithi, it is full of wonderful beaches, interesting archaeological sites, amazing landscapes, picturesque villages and impressive gorges. Heraklion is the biggest town of Crete. It distinguishes for its impressive Castle, the Venetian port and the fish taverns along the waterfront. Apart from the town, the entire region is also beautiful and unexplored. The prefecture of Heraklion is green and very interesting. Pure nature gives way to mountainous villages and sandy beaches are followed by impressive gorges. Driving around the prefecture is an excellent experience to get to know the Cretan landscape.
The history of Heraklion started in the Minoan times, as is shown by the close ancient town of Knossos, the most developed of all Minoan towns in Crete. After the Minoan times, Heraklion flourished again as an important port of the Byzantine Empire. After the fall of Crete to the Venetians, the town developed economically because of trade. Attention was paid to the education and many impressive buildings, like the Loggia, were constructed to house public works. This is also when Koules Fortress around the port of Heraklion was built, to protect the island from pirates and from the Turkish fleet. In the 16th century, Heraklion was conquered by the Turks who kept the entire island under their occupation till the early 20th century. In fact, the town has vivid the signs of the Venetian and the Turkish occupation in its architecture structures.
LASSITHI: Lassithi Crete is less of a tourist hub and mostly known for its beautiful natural surroundings. This is the easternmost region of Crete and its most tourist developed villages are Agios Nikolaos, which is also the capital of the prefecture, Elounda, Sitia and Ierapetra. In the centre of the prefecture, there lies the Plateau of Lassithi, a beautiful natural area with windmills, mountainous villages, impressive gorges, caves such as Milatos or Trapeza, and a lot of greenery. In fact, this Plateau is one of the most fertile regions of Greece.
The history of Lassithi started in the Minoan times and many ancient sites can be found all over it, such as the ancient towns of Pressos, Lato, Gournia and Vasiliki. These towns flourished in the 14th century BC but they declined after the destruction of the Minoan civilization. The next great development of Lassithi came in the 13th century AD when the Venetians conquered the island. They built Castles, like the Castle of Spinalonga, the windmills of the Plateau and made agriculture and trade the main occupation of the inhabitants. Then The Ottomans occupied Lassithi. In the early 20th century, Lassithi and the whole island of Crete became part of Greece.
Its capital is the lovely coastal town of Agios Nikolaos which has a picturesque port where little fishing boats are mooring. It also has lovely touristy resorts with all the modern facilities, picturesque mountainous villages where the traditional Cretan way of life can still be seen, a verdant plateau (the Lassithi Plateau) full of old windmills and superb beaches.
RETHYMO: Rethymno is located in central Crete and lies between the towns of Chania and Heraklion. It is considered as the third largest town in Crete and portrays itself as a quaint region with delightful medieval architecture. The harbour front is the busiest neighborhood of the town. Rethymno has been developed a lot over the years by the tourism industry to provide travelers and guests with various important amenities.
Historically, the earliest settlers of the region belonged to the Minoan period. The region enjoyed a sovereign status to such an extent that it had its own coinage. However, its lack of mention during the Roman and Byzantine period shows that it had lost its importance to the then rulers. But with the advent of the Venetian and later the Turkish rule, the region slowly started to regain its original prominence. Culture developed a lot in the Venetian times and the town was built with impressive public buildings and private mansions that survive till today. Trade brought economic power to the inhabitants and the harbor of Rethymno was enlarged to welcome ships from all Mediterranean. Ottomans occupied the island in the 16th century. Although the Cretans made several attempts to set themselves free, this was accomplished only in the early 20th century.
Today what has remained from these two occupations is the influence in the architecture of the town. In every part of the Old Town of Rethymnon, you will see Venetian and Ottoman structures, such as mosques, public baths, catholic churches and fountains.
Apart from the town, the region of Rethymnon is also wonderful. There you will meet the typical Cretan landscape, sometimes wild and other times fertile, with many mountainous villages, lakes, gorges and Byzantine monasteries around. The beaches of Rethymnon, golden sandy and crystal, also dot the landscape and attract thousands of visitors every summer. Most popular beaches are Platanias and Panormos. ir yandan özgün bir kültür geliştirirken, bir yandan da Osmanlı Devleti'ne ve Anadolu'ya geri göçten sonra da Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'ne yönetim, edebiyat, bilim, eğitim alanlarında önemli katkılarda bulundular.