The island, which is the fifth largest of the Mediterranean islands, is considered the largest of the Greek islands. Who has not ruled here throughout history? There were the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Venetians, and the Germans in World War II.
This island is a treasure. Crowds of tourists flock here every year, searching for the sea, the sun, the excellent food and some of the remnants of the Minoan culture, born here and the pioneer of Western cultures.
Apart from high mountains and small villages, beaches and blue bays, olive groves, bubbling nightlife and delicious taverns, Crete also has wooded hills, fertile soil and densely cultivated valleys, deep canyons, unique archeological sites, steep cliffs that rise from small beaches and sandy bays and bright villages.
The mountainous part of Crete is characterized by high mountains with fruit trees and endless olive groves. The local estimates is that the island has over 20 million olive trees.
This is actually a chain of mountains, which divides the island of Crete in two, and separates its southern and northern parts. Interestingly, if the major cities and popular tourist towns are on the northern coast, those interested can find peace and quiet on the more pleasant, quiet southern beaches and small villages, whose inhabitants live slowly and calmly, some of them still engaged in traditional handicrafts.
Minoan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman - the strategic location of the island in the Mediterranean made it a desirable island by empires and rulers. Everyone seemed to have passed through here, leaving their mark.
It all starts with the Minoan culture. Many see Crete as the cradle of Western culture, always referring to the Minoans, which was the first known culture on the continent of Europe.
The Minoan culture was of paramount importance in Greek mythology as well. The legends tell of Zeus's birth in Crete, the father of the Gods and the ruler of the heavens. It was from this place that the Minoan king Minus ruled Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Crete was also the site where Hercules was anchored to complete one of the missions he was given, and this was where Athens, every year, sent a boat laden with human sacrifice.
After Greece, the Romans, the Venetians, and the Ottomans ruled here. At the end of the 19th century, they withdrew from the island, following the rebellions of the islanders. In the early 20th century Crete became part of Greece and during World War II it was conquered by the German army. During the war several battles between them and the Allies took place on its land.
The best Taverna experience is to open with the rich Greek Mezes - a collection of excellent Greek starters.
Greek salad is also satisfying and wonderful, especially when the ingredients are fresh and seasoned well. Tavernas will usually do the job.
Meat lovers will be able to find any street is souvlaki, the Greek Shishlik, or Girus, the Greek shawarma. Fish is usually more expensive in these taverns, while octopus and chicken will be cheaper.
The local feta cheese (very high fat percentage) and the large, juicy red grapes.
Another pleasant surprise is the local wine, combined with ouzo and raki that flow through the streets like water add to the light mood of the island.
Just be sure to enter authentic taverns. The waiters do not usher in passerbys, so it is up to you to go on in. The menus are not on display and in the local joints, the menus are generally only in Greek and English. If dogs and cats are hanging around the taverna, it's a good sign- touristy restaurants tend to shoo them away.