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Welcome to the island of Crete.
Crete is an island in Greece that stands out as a unique geographical, cultural and architectural crossroad. Below we will attempt to present to you a brief description of its culture, its society and of its economy.
Civilization and culture
Despite the fact that the ancient Cretan civilisation was developed within Ancient Greece it is refered to as an important and autonomous part.
Even Greek mythology mentions that Zeus, the king of all Gods, was raised in a cave on the mountain of Psiloritis in Crete until he was fit to claim his throne.
Starting in the minoan years Cretans established an original social structure which led to a blossoming of arts and architecture. Between 2.600 B.C. and 1.150 B.C. huge cities palaces were build on the island, such as the ones of Knossos and Phaistos. At the same time Minoans created a naval empire. It was in these minoan years where one comes across the myth of Talos, the mechanical giant manufactured by the God of fire and craftmanship, Ephaistos. Ephaistos gave this giant as a present to King Minos so that Talos could offer protection to the island.
In 1.400 B.C. Achaioi conquered the island, while during the 11th century Dories came to the island. During the archaic and doric years the Cretan way of life was very similar to that of the Spartans. Crete fell under the roman rule in 69 A.C., while from 395 it became part of the A division of the Roman state. In 824 A.C. the Arab Sarakinoi invaded Crete untill the time that Nikiforos Fokas lieberated them. In 1204 the island was given to Vonifatios, one of the leader of the Crusades who then sold it to the Venetians. During the Arab and Venetian years cities-castles were created and these can still be found today in the three larger cities on the island: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion.
It was during the Venetian years when arts and literature became once again a focal point attracting a number of artists and intellectuals from Constantinoupole and other parts of the fallen Byzantine Empire. It was at this time that Domenicos Theotocopoulos, the artist internationally known as El Greco started displaying his talent.
In 1669 Crete was occupied by the Othoman Empire. In 1830 the island was given to Memhmet Ali of Egypt who kept it up to 1841. Revolutionary movements of Cretans lead to them gaining some rights in 1894. However, the following year the sultan cancelled the treaty that was signed creating a new revolution which resulted to Crete becoming an autonomous state in 1897. At that point an official representative was send to Crete from the state of Greece. It was 1913 when the island of Crete was finally united with the Greek state. During the 2nd World War after the invasion of Athens the Greek government moved its headquarters to Crete. Between the 20th and 27th of May, 1941 the historic Battle of Crete took place when the locals resisted greatly against the German forces. This event was crucial to the outcome of the war since it delayed the conquerors and their plans of invading the Soviet Union, leading to the victory of the Allies.
Despite the negative influences and experiences that were imposed on the island of Crete and its people during the various occupations one can not ignore that these led to a cultural and architectural enrichment. There is also a romantic point of view adopted by Cretans throughout the centuries stating that even the hearts of its conquerers softened after living on Crete, which they eventually embraced as their home.
Following to the establishment of the modern Greek state especially during the period after World War II, the landmark of the 1981 entry in the European Union (E.U.) and the harmonisation with the common fiscal and financial policy, Greece achieved a steadily developing economy. The island of Crete claims the lowest unemployment rate in Greece and one of the lowest in the E.U.
Greece is a valuable E.U. state in harmony with the common european vision while maintaining excellent relationships with the other member countries from a financial, political as well as cultural point of view.
Crete, surrounded by thousands kilometers of beaches, is the larger island in Greece and the fifth in size in the Mediteranean covering 8.260 klm2. Its mild climate and its hospitable people are combined with a unique geological enviroment which gives the impression that Crete could be a small continent. At the same time its geographical position between west and east establishes it as a crossroad of cultures and civilisations.
The climate in Crete is defined as semi tropical and partly mediteranean. International researches have often claimed that this climate in combination with the cretan diet containing fresh local produce, makes Crete one of the healthiest residential options in the world.
Chania, the jewel of Crete, has a 6.000 years old history and the unique architectural mixture that can be found here has earned this city the reputation of the architectural capital of Greece.
The beaches around the island are awarded every year the "Blue Flag" according to European standards for its safety standards and its clean sea. The climate invites all ages to attend the beaches almost all year around.
There are a lot of places in Crete where someone can stand and gaze at snow covered mountains, green olive groves and the bright blue sea at the same time.
The islands population exceeds 650.000, many of which have upper level education and are able to speak at least one foreign language. The universities of Crete are renowned for their research results and many students from around the world join courses here.
Further infrastructure is more than adequate including three main hospitals as well as various medical centers so that all inhabitants and visitors may have easy access to medical treatment. The expansion of national roads during recent years has shortened further the distances on the island.
There are two international airports, one in Chania and one in Heraklion, providing the opportunity of traveling between Crete and other major European destinations.
At the same time there are daily ship lines to the rest of Greece through five main ports. The Souda bay port is regarded as the largest natural port in Europe while small and medium size marinas can be found in many places around the island.
The criminal rate is virtually non existent while living in Crete offers a number of activities. Despite the fact that entertainment depends clearly on anyone's preferences here there are various ways of entertaining available around the clock: winter and summer cinemas, theaters, galleries, art centers, chess clubs, concerts, international festivals, golf courts, tennis courts, horse riding clubs, shooting centers, climbing clubs, sailing clubs, diving clubs, water parks, beach bars, wine and dining restaurants and a worldwide famous night life. In Crete even strolling on the beach or looking at the horizon offers you a different kind of satisfaction and tranquility.
It is to be expected that Crete, the island of Zeus, of King Minos, of El Greco, of Eleftherios Venizelos, of Nikos Kazantzakis and of Mikis Theodorakis is widely appreciated by many people on this planet. Only in 2006 2.800.000 visitors have reached the island just through the international airports of Chania and Heraklion.
A Travel & Tourism competitiveness Report that reffered to 124 counties-destinations mentioned Greece as a country with cultural and historical interest, excellent health and safety standards, combined with a secure environment. This report also highlighted that in Greece an open and friendly attitude is expressed towards tourists, while the Greek state regards travel and tourism as a high priority sector, especially when compared to other European countries.
It is a fact that Greeks and more specifically Cretans have a well developed positive awareness towards tourism. Its source can be traced back to the meaning of the word philoxenia which was firstly used in Ancient Greece. Philoxenia comes from the combination of the word of "philos", which means friend and "xenos" which means "not from here". So philoxenia literally means to be a friend with someone who is not from here. Cretans always invite anyone from a different country to join in the community and offering their help when needed. Cretans are proud of their history and their culture and consider it an honour that people from other countries want to learn more about this island.
Local economy is based on tourism as well as agriculture and shipping. This fact has led to the development of hundreds different hotel units, many of which are renouned in Europe for their luxury and hospitality. Crete attracts the largest amount of tourism when compared to the rest of Greece. The largest amounts of visitors comes from England, Germany, Scandinavian countries, The Netherlands, France, Austria as well as Belgium and Italy. This has led to the development of holiday homes, villas and retirement homes and to the need of an independent property locating company such as Talos properties which protects and guides all potential home owners in Crete.