Crete is the land that gave birth to the first advanced European civilization. The Minoan era was the first example of a more sophisticated society on the map of the continent. The ancient culture of 2nd millennium BC is still represented by the remains of the magnificent palaces of Knossos and Phaestos, to name a few.
Throughout the centuries the island went through numerous changes of government and influences. The Mykonian, the Ancient Greek, the Roman, the Byzantine presence on Crete can still be found nowadays. The island fell under Arab rule too, but the Venetian period that lasted for four and a half centuries made one of the most important territories in the Mediterranean Sea. Crete was under the Ottoman rule for nearly 230 years before it was liberated in 1897 and later united with the Greek state. So many cultures blended and co-existed on that piece of land in the middle of the sea, so it created a unique mix that is different from any other place on Earth. And it deserves to be seen and experienced.
Another world-famous legend was born on the island too – that of Zorba the Greek. The fiction was created by Nikos Kazantzakis – probably the most prominent writer not only in Crete but in the country as a whole in the last century. The island is also known as the birthplace of the renowned Renaissance artist named El Greco (The Greek) – his real name was Doménikos Theotokópoulos.
Speaking of birthplaces, it is not typical to see spectacular birthday parties on Crete. Well, the name days are something different. The local people, as well as most of Greeks, emphasize celebrating the day of the saint they were named after. The strangers are also welcome to enjoy the feast.