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Crete: the island of the ancient Minoan civilization

The island of Crete (Kriti), the largest island in Greece (8,261 sq km, over 620,000 inhabitants) and the fifth largest of the Mediterranean islands. This island is located in the Aegean Sea, and with its long and narrow shape separates this sea from the Libyan Sea.

The island is mainly mountainous with mountain ranges that widely exceed 2,000 meters. The Dikti Oros whose highest peak reaches 2,146 meters. The Lefka Ori mountains that reach an altitude of 2,452 meters and Mount Ida which with 2,456 meters is the highest peak on the island. The plains are a small percentage of the territory of the island, the largest and most important plain of Crete is that of Messara.

The coasts of Crete are quite lively with inlets and peninsulas that make the island’s coastal profile very varied. The northern coast is the most developed, where the main urban centers are located, including the capital Heraklion. The southern coast is steeper and less favorable for settlements, even the climate is very dry.

In addition to tourism, the main economic resources of the island are agriculture (olives, oil, wine, fruit, cereals, potatoes and carobs are grown) and sheep breeding.

A MILLENARY CIVILIZATION

Crete is rich in history, here between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age the Minoan-Cretan civilization developed. During this period, the advantageous geographical position of the island allowed the birth of a rich maritime empire that controlled a commercial network from the Aegean Sea that reached Egypt, Syria, the regions north of the Black Sea and the Western Mediterranean.

Typical of Cretan architecture are the large buildings built at the beginning of the second millennium in Knossos, Festos, Tilisso and Mallia, destroyed and rebuilt between 1700 and 1600 BC. C. In the Cretan cities of the time, all traces of defense walls are absent. The scarce remains of frescoes still visible in Knossos and Hagìa Triàda are very beautiful, giving a faint idea of the richness and splendor of this civilization.

The golden age ended, due to natural disasters and the Doric invasions. The island experienced a long period of decline, during which it lived practically in isolation from the rest of Greece. Over the centuries, the island saw Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Venetian and Ottoman dominations.

The climate of Crete. The attractions of the island.

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