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Sunday, 3 August 2014


Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands. It has a total land area of 3,219 square miles.

NASA photograph of Crete

The Cretan Minoian Culture started in the 15th century before Christ. They chose kings to rule over them for seven years each.

The palace of Knossos had a labyrinth, where visitors would get lost unless they used a string behind them to find their way back.

The Cretans were the first people to build stone theaters where many people were amused by parades and music.

In about 1450 B.C., the Greek Mycenaeans captured Crete, after Knossos had been shaken by an earthquake.

Cretan men of 1500BC wore only a short loincloth. It was fastened at the waist by a wide belt. This was tightly cinched to give the effect of a very small waist and round, full hips.

Women's clothing of the same era was designed to produce the same results. It consisted of a long, full, multitiered skirt and a small jacket. The skirt was brightly colored and patterned. The jacket covered only the back and arms.

The island of Crete was ruled by Muslim Arabs from the 820s until the Siege of Chandax, which lasted from autumn 960 until spring 961. On March 6, 961 the main Muslim fortress and capital of the island, Chandax (modern Heraklion) was captured by the Byzantines. With the capture of Chandax, the rest of Crete quickly capitulated to the Byzantine army, and the island was brought back under the suzerainty of Constantinople.

Venice secured Crete as a colony in 1212. During Venice's rule, which lasted more than four centuries, a Renaissance swept through the island as is evident from the plethora of artistic works dating to that period.

The Ottomans conquered Crete in 1669, after the siege of Candia.

Crete, having obtained self rule from Turkey after the First Balkan War, was annexed by Greece on December 1, 1913.

After the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, Crete surrendered to Nazi Germany on June 1, 1941.

Crete has the highest ratio of guns per person in the European Union, which they use for festivities. They fire their guns during baptisms, weddings and other social events. In fact, during birthday parties, some people give themselves a 21-gun salute.

Sources Travelzoo UK, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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