Ever visited Crete before? Greece is home to a variety of fascinating islands and communities, and Crete just happens to be one which is rich in some of the most fascinating heritage. It’s home to some stunning sunshine and coastlines, too – making it a hugely popular tourist destination for people across all corners of the globe.
Let’s take a deep dive into a few facts about Crete which might just fascinate you. Already been? Maybe you travel there regularly. In any case, here are a few great reasons why you should keep Crete in your sights for many years to come!
Crete remains the biggest island in Greece, with more than 160 miles of coastlines, leading to some pretty extensive beaches! Believe it or not, only Cyprus, Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily are bigger than this resort in terms of Mediterranean islands! Funny how they all start with an S or a C, too!
The capital city here is Heraklion, with a population of 151,324.
Crete is one of the most fascinating archaeological hotspots. While Cyprus might just beat it to the punch in this regard, Crete actually had its own unique elephant – the dwarf mammoth – exclusive to the island!
In Crete, you will likely find that most people there own one gun at the least. This is more to do with tradition than anything else, however, as they are generally fired (safely!) during big celebrations such as weddings!
There’s a legend in play that suggests the air in Crete is likely to heal you of all kinds of ailments. This dates back to ancient times, with Hippocrates being credited with having to help propagate the idea.
According to Greek mythology, Crete was the birthplace of Zeus, the god of the sky, thunder and lightning.
There’s actually a unique language on Crete which really is all its own. This is Cretan, and it is, of course, largely based on Greek, However, you will find the language and dialect spoken across the world, with the people of Crete having spread far and wide over the years.
Crete wasn’t the original name of the island. In fact, it’s thought to have gone through several monikers before settling on its current name. For example, it was once known as Kaptara under Syrian regimes. Egyptians in ancient times are also thought to have called the island Keftiu, and students of the Bible state that the island is referred to in the text as Caphtor. It’s thought the modern name derives from the Latin moniker, Creta.
Crete is, believe it or not, also well-known for its unique poetry. This is referred to as mantinada and are traditional rhyming ditties which can often be accompanied with a little music. They tend to be offered up in times of celebration.
Spinalonga Island – Leper Colony (1903 to 1957)
Crete is by far the most populated island in the whole of Greece, in addition to its incredible surface area. To keep things in perspective, consider that Greece itself has around 10 million citizens. Crete has 634,930 (2019) – that’s around 6% of the mainland population!
There are many famous people from Crete, but what you might not know is that actress Jennifer Aniston is technically a Cretan – at least by birth, as her father Anthony (real name Antionis Anastasakis) was born on the island before emigrating to the US.
Crete is a very musical island – to such an extent that at least two or three famous instruments have roots there. For example, it’s thought that the violin has roots in ancient Crete, and what’s more, mandolin and lyre also have a firm history on the island. It seems that some of the most popular stringed instruments are island favourites!
Crete has two of the very few pink beaches on the planet. There are only ten in the world, and you can tread the curious pink sands of Elafonissi and Balos at your leisure.
Crete also has the honour of – technically – being the oldest established place in Europe. It’s thought that people were living here at least 9,000 years ago – giving even more weight to theories that humanity started in the Mediterranean and spread outwards.
It’s actually likely to snow in Crete fairly often. The mountain ranges here get quite snow-capped in the winter – despite the regular sun and incredible temperatures down on the beaches!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Crete that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!