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Satellite image of Crete
Satellite image of Crete
Waters Mediterranean Sea
Geographical location 35 ° 12 '  N , 24 ° 54'  E Coordinates: 35 ° 12 '  N , 24 ° 54'  E
Crete (Crete)
length 254 km
width 60 km
surface 8th 261  km²
Highest elevation 2456  m
Residents 622.913 (2011)
75 inhabitants / km²
main place Heraklion

Crete ( modern Greek Κρήτη Kriti ( f. Sg. )) Is the largest Greek island and with around 8,261 square kilometers and 1,066 kilometers of coastline, after Sicily , Sardinia , Cyprus and Corsica, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean . Crete belongs to the Greek region of the same name, Crete .

The island has about 623,000 inhabitants (as of 2011). The largest city, administrative and economic center is Heraklion with around 174,000 inhabitants.


The ancient Greek name Κρήτη Krētē has been preserved, only the vowel [ɛː] is [i] in modern Greek . Crete is the Germanized spelling of the Latin form of the name Creta . The Turkish form of the name is Girit . During the time as a colony of the Republic of Venice , the island was called Candia ( going back to Arabic Khandaq "trench"); the capital was also called Candia (today's name Iraklio ).

The etymology is unclear. In the linear script B of the Mycenaean culture there is the designation ke-re-si-jo, it is interpreted as * Krēsios Κρήσιος 'Cretan' and is possibly of pre-Greek origin. In Homer's Iliad (as in the ship's catalog , book 2, verse 645), the Cretans are the Greek-speaking inhabitants of the island in the form with t ; the pre-Greek population calls Homer Eteokreter ( Ἐτεόκρητες 'true Cretans').

Even in ancient times, there were different views on the origin of the Greek name Κρήτη. Four versions go back to female characters named Krete : a daughter of Europe named Krete is mentioned ; a lover of the Egyptian king Ammon , who fled with him to the island of Idaia and who was then renamed Krete ; a cretan of the Hesperides and a daughter of Deucalion of the same name. Further interpretations lead the name back to a mythical first king named Kres or to the Curetes as the mythical first inhabitants of the island.


Geographical location

Physical map of Crete
Cretan mountain landscape

Crete is just under 100 kilometers south of mainland Greece. It is the largest Greek island and the second largest in the eastern Mediterranean after Cyprus . The island has an elongated shape, it measures 254 kilometers in an east-west direction with a maximum width of 60.6 kilometers. At its narrowest point (near Ierapetra ), Crete is 12.1 kilometers wide. Crete lies between 34 ° 55'31 "and 35 ° 41'32" north latitude and between 23 ° 31'21 "and 26 ° 18'50" east longitude. The distance to Africa is 294 kilometers (Libya), to Asia 180 kilometers (Turkey) and to the European mainland Cape Malea 96.6 kilometers.

The island covers an area of ​​8,261,183 square kilometers and its coastline is 1,066 kilometers long. The sea in the north is called the Cretan Sea (Greek Kritiko Pelagos Κρητικό Πέλαγος), the Libyan Sea in the south (Greek Livyko Pelagos Λιβυκό Πέλαγος), Crete's eastern end, extends into the so-called Carpathian Sea .

Crete is very mountainous and is determined by a mountain range extending from west to east, which is mostly steeper to the south coast and flatter to the north. This chain is an overseas part of a mountain range extending from the Peloponnese via Crete, Karpathos and Rhodes to the Anatolian mainland, which forms the South Aegean island bridge . The four highest peaks in Crete are:

  • The Ida Mountains with Psiloritis as the highest mountain on the island (2456 meters high),
  • the White Mountains or Lefka Ori (2452 meters high),
  • the Dikti Mountains (2148 meters high) and
  • the up to 1476 meter high Thripti Mountains in the east of the island.

Crete owes to these mountains the fertile plateaus Lasithi , Omalos and Nida , caves such as the Diktean Cave and deep gorges such as the well-known Samaria Gorge . The Messara plain in the south is the largest plain on the island at around 140 km². It is used intensively for agriculture. Crete forms an archipelago with a few smaller inhabited and uninhabited islands .


Mountains and mountain village (Kato Saktouria near Spili ) in southern Crete
Aerial view of the southeast coast between Athenerilakkos and Xerokampos

The steeply rising archipelago of Crete lies on the Aegean plate , not far from the deepest points of the entire Mediterranean and represents a raised area of ​​the forearcs of the subduction zone . The entire region is tectonically very active. The so-called Greek Arc or the Hellenic Subduction Zone runs here , a tectonic rift almost 1000 kilometers long, which is located between the European plate moving south and the African plate moving north. This pushes the African plate under the European plate. This subduction zone is seen as the dominant area for earthquakes in the entire continental region. Earthquakes can occur constantly, but usually cause hardly any damage worth mentioning. 70 to 150 km north of this, the Cycladic Arc is joined by the igneous active arc.

Between 4200 ± 90 BP and 3930 ± 90 BP, the sea level was at the lowest known point (−6.55 ± 0.55 m). For the proto or old palace period (1900–1700 or 1600 BC) and the new palace period of the Minoan culture (1600–1450 BC), two levels could be established, namely at −3.95 ± 0.35 m and at −2.70 ± 0.15 m. A further increase to −1.25 ± 0.05 m took place between 1450 and 400 BC. Instead of. In 1604 the sea level rose by 0.70 m in a very short time. Since then it has increased by another 0.55 m. In the 4th century the western part of the island was raised by 9.15 ± 0.20 m, the eastern part, which also tilted to the south-east, by 2 m.Probably with the severe earthquake of 365 the trench of Spili was created along that the island broke apart. Around 1600 the western part sank by 1.25 ± 0.05 m at the same time as the eastern part of the island subsided.

Historical, verifiable earthquakes:

  • Destruction of the palace of Phaistos around 1900 BC Chr.
  • Destruction of the first large palace complex at Knossos around 1700 BC Chr.
  • Apparently earthquakes in the run-up to the volcanic eruption of Santorini (approx. 1500 BC; more likely around 1630 BC)
  • Destruction of the new palace of the Minoans around 1450 BC Chr.
  • Great earthquake south of Crete on July 21, 365 AD, including the destruction of the lighthouse of Alexandria (report by Ammianus Marcellinus )
  • Destruction of the fortress of Kastro (Koules) around 1500 AD.
  • multiple, successive destruction of the church of Agios Titos from the 15th century (quake without dating)
  • Destruction of the church of Agios Titos, which has meanwhile been converted into a mosque, in 1856

Current examples:

  • Magnitude 5.1 in the sea off the eastern part of the island
  • Magnitude 6.1 in the sea, 40 kilometers northwest of the coast
  • Magnitude 5.0 in the sea at a depth of 97 kilometers and 105 kilometers to the north
  • Magnitude 4.5 in the sea south of Ierapetra
  • Magnitude 5.4 in the sea 175 kilometers northeast of Heraklion at a depth of 33 kilometers (on February 7, 2004)
  • Magnitude 5.3 between Crete and Peloponnese at a depth of 73 kilometers (on November 4, 2004)
  • Magnitude 6.7 in the sea at a depth of 66 kilometers around 92 kilometers northwest of the island
  • Magnitude 6.9 in the sea at a depth of around 70 kilometers northwest (on January 8, 2006)
  • Magnitude 4.5 in the sea approx. 90 kilometers east of Crete (according to, on March 31, 2006)
  • Magnitude 6.5 in the sea west of the city of Chania at a depth of 23 kilometers (on October 12, 2013)
  • Magnitude 6.1 in the sea approx. 50 kilometers east of Crete at a depth of 20 kilometers (on April 16, 2015)
  • Magnitude 4.9; 11 kilometers northwest of the town of Gazi on Crete at a depth of 75 kilometers (on July 31, 2019)

See also: earthquake struck Greece


Crete has a uniform Mediterranean climate . With around 300 days of sunshine per year, Crete is, together with Cyprus, the sunniest island in the Mediterranean. The summer is hot and dry, with very high temperatures being measured, especially on the south coast. The winter is rainy and mild, the high altitudes of the mountain ranges are snowy. Crete is characterized by several climate zones . The range extends from dry and hot to humid alpine zones.

Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Crete
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 15th 15th 16 20th 23 27 29 29 27 24 20th 16 O 21.8
Min. Temperature (° C) 9 9 10 12th 15th 19th 22nd 22nd 20th 17th 14th 11 O 15th
Temperature (° C) 12.0 12.1 13.4 16.3 19.8 23.5 25.7 25.6 23.1 19.7 16.6 13.8 O 18.5
Precipitation ( mm ) 59.8 48.0 46.2 21.5 8.2 1.1 0.4 1.0 6.1 26.5 55.9 72.6 Σ 347.3
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 3 5 6th 8th 10 12th 13th 12th 10 6th 6th 4th O 7.9
Rainy days ( d ) 14th 9 10 6th 4th 1 1 1 2 6th 11 14th Σ 79
Water temperature (° C) 16 15th 16 16 19th 22nd 24 25th 24 23 20th 17th O 19.8
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

In the mountain regions, the values ​​can differ considerably from the average values ​​given in the table. On the southeast coast it is a few degrees warmer in the summer months.



Cretan Arum ( Arum creticum ) in spring

Despite thousands of years of settlement and summer drought, the Cretan flora is very species-rich, around 170 endemic plant species thrive here alone . The large number of different flowering plants is particularly noticeable in spring. Typical for the island is the occurrence of numerous aromatic herbs such as head thyme , Greek sage , thymbra mountain mint , oregano or diptame dost , whose distribution extends up to the high altitudes of the mountain ranges.

For typical vegetation on the areas grazed by goats and sheep, see Phrygana and Macchie .

The mountain ranges of the White Mountains ( Lefka Ori ) and the Ida Mountains are still partially forested with Calabrian pines ( Pinus brutia ), remnants of cypresses ( Cypressus sempervirens ) and Kermes oaks . The east of Crete, on the other hand, is one of the most barren and driest regions in Europe. In addition to a few cultivated olive trees, only the hardy and dehydration-resistant spherical bush-like plants of the Phrygana grow there.

Other trees that are often seen are the carob tree and deciduous plane trees along streams. A specialty is the Cretan date palm ( Phoenix theophrasti ), which occurs in some locations on the south coast and in the far east on the palm beach of Vai .


Nodding wood sorrel

Crete is home to a large number of neophytes - plant species that only became native to the island through intentional or unintentional human intervention. Some of these species have shaped the landscape:

  • In winter and spring, large areas of Crete are covered by a carpet of nodding wood sorrel ( Oxalis pes-caprae ). The clover-like plant was first found on the Greek island in 1883, originally from South Africa.
  • The red or yellow blooming ice plant, which can often be seen on cliffs and walls near the sea , also comes from South Africa. It was first cultivated as a soil stabilizer and ornamental plant.
  • The American agave , which can be found all over Crete , was first introduced as an ornamental plant. The Central American plant found ideal climatic conditions for them here and poached them.
  • The Opuntia ficus-indica , also from Central America, was able to spread over the entire Mediterranean region. It was introduced as an ornamental plant and because of its edible fruits.

The castor plant , the tree of gods and the blue-green tobacco were also not originally native to Crete. It is estimated that around a third of all plant species on the island have only been naturalized since they were first colonized by humans, including around 80 more recently.


The Cretan fauna is relatively poor in species compared to its flora. Typical and common representatives of the Mediterranean fauna are crickets , cicadas , lizards and bats . Apparently the animal world is dominated by various breeds of domesticated goats and sheep that graze from the sea to the high mountain regions.



In prehistoric times up to the Neolithic there were significantly more species of endemic large mammals in Crete. Bones from the Cretan dwarf mammoth , a hippopotamus species and various deer species were found. The remains of a very large insect eater are also among the fossils. On the other hand, there is no evidence of any large predatory mammals such as bears , big cats or dogs , so that the most important selection pressure for the herbivores was probably the limited food available. So there are reasons to assume that Crete was as heavily grazed as after it was colonized by humans with their pets. Some authors conclude from this that the genesis of today's Cretan landscape is not as influenced by humans as it is mostly assumed. According to this theory, the formerly almost completely forested island, reported by Plato , and which allegedly later degenerated into a "ruined landscape" through human overexploitation , never existed in historical times (see reference: Rackham and Moody).


Cretan wild goat ( Capra aegagrus cretica )

The very rare endemic Cretan wild goat (also called Agrimi or Kri-Kri) only occurs in a natural location in the white mountains ( Lefka Ori ). Since 1928 attempts have been made to relocate some of the stocks to uninhabited rock islands (e.g. to Dia , located directly in front of Heraklion ). The Agrimi are probably not originally native to Crete, but descendants of animals that were released into the wild at the earliest times of human settlement.

Common mammals on Crete are the Cretan spiny mouse , the Etruscan shrew and twelve different bat species. The white-breasted hedgehog is threatened by the use of pesticides , and the Cretan hare has become rare due to excessive hunting . The stone marten , the mouse weasel , the dormouse and the Cretan badger are also represented as wild land mammals .

Surprisingly, in 1996, another specimen of the Cretan wildcat was caught, which had previously been considered extinct. The existence of the Mediterranean monk seal is also severely threatened , of which the last specimen, among others. should still live near the Paximadia Islands and on the coasts of southeast Crete.


In addition to the bird species native to Crete, the island serves as a stopover for many migratory birds on their way from Africa to Northern Europe. Some species orient themselves in their flight route to the course of certain gorges on Crete.

Birds of prey

In remote mountain regions and gorges of the Lefka Ori there are still few pairs of the now very rare bearded vulture , which in the past was hunted mercilessly because of its bad image as a lamb teardrop (hence also incorrectly called "lamb vulture"). The “ bone smiths ” they set up have become as rare as the birds . The griffon vultures , which are just as large and can often be observed circling over mountain slopes or gorges, are even more common than the bearded vultures . They mainly feed on sheep and goats that have fallen on steep slopes. Almost half of the estimated population of this species of vulture for the whole of Greece lives on Crete . Another species of raptor rarely found in Crete is the osprey , especially on the south coast around Lendas . Common buzzards and kestrels , however, are very common, as are Eleanor's falcons , peregrine falcons , golden eagles and bonelli's eagles , which are also rare . The scops owl is particularly widespread among the night hunters .

Reptiles and amphibians

In addition to various types of lizards and non-poisonous snakes ( leopard snake , dice snake , Balkan angry snake), there is also a poisonous species of snake on Crete. It is the European cat snake ( Telescopus fallax ), but it is harmless to humans because its fangs are so deep in the throat that they can only be used against their prey. The two most common types of lizard are the giant green lizard and the much smaller Cycladic wall lizard . There are also some gecko species (e.g. the wall gecko ), the roller skink and the European chameleon, which was only discovered in the 1930s . There are no tortoises on Crete, but some of the streams that carry water even in summer are populated by the Caspian brook turtle (Mauremys rivulata). The highly endangered hawksbill sea turtle , which uses some Cretan beaches (including Matala , Komos ) to lay eggs, must be mentioned as a marine species .

As representatives of the amphibians , the tree frog , the sea ​​frog and the green toad can be found in areas with standing or flowing water.

Arthropods and mollusks

Freshwater crab ( Potamon potamios ) on the edge of a country road

Only the tribe of arthropods , especially insects , arachnids and centipedes is represented diverse. Even scorpions (z. B. Euscorpius carpathicus , Mesobuthus gibbosus , Iurus dufoureius ) are fairly common to find, both in the sea and inland. Crickets and cicadas are so common that in some locations their evening chirp can make outdoor conversation impossible.

Freshwater crabs still live in some of the year-round flowing springs or streams, and they can also be found in the dry when they migrate from water to water.

The large number of shell snails is particularly noticeable in spring , the edible species of which enrich the menu of the residents in keeping with the pre-Easter Lent.


Chania harbor
Agios Nikolaos
Chora Sfakion , a village on the south coast of Crete
Landscape in Crete

The population of Crete is slightly more than 610,000 (as of 2013).

Settlement structure

Well over half of the Cretans live in the rapidly growing urban agglomerations of Heraklion , Chania , Rethymno , Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra . The rest of them live in small towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants, in villages or on individual farms.


As in all of Greece, Modern Greek is the official language in Crete , although it is spoken by the locals in the variant of the Cretan dialect , and in rural areas by the youngest generation. There are still elderly people who only speak the dialect, whereas most people born after the 1950s can also speak standard Greek.

Since the modern Greek language is not as strongly divided into different dialects as, for example, English, German or Italian, this is a peculiarity in Greece that mainland Greeks like to take up in caricatures, often with reference to the quirkiness, backwardness or stubbornness of the Cretans. Some local Cretan radio stations such as "Erotokritos" broadcast their programs almost entirely in Cretan, in the reproduction of stories or in volumes of poetry and songbooks, efforts are made to adapt the spelling to the dialect as far as possible.

Even foreigners without knowledge of Greek will easily notice the dialect by replacing the “k” before “i” or “e” with an Italian-sounding “tsch”. Locally, the exchange of the Greek “L” sound for a sound similar to the English “r” is striking (o l i (όλοι, “all”) → ou r i). In the frequent female personal pronoun tis (“her”) and words with a similar syllable structure, a sound change to tsi occurs, which leads to the difficult consonant connection stsi , especially with the preposition se (“in, after, to”) . In addition, Cretan also contains many words that do not even appear in High Greek (e.g. epa instead of edo for "here"). In places the Cretan dialect also deviates grammatically from standard Greek , so the augment is much more often preserved in the unstressed position of the verb in the past tempora ( e pígena instead of pígena ).

While the English researcher Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt wrote in his book Travels and Researches in Crete in 1865 that the female population in particular only spoke Cretan but not Greek, the gender ratio has now reversed: Almost every older woman actively speaks standard Greek, but many older men only master it passively.

The Cretan dialect is more strongly influenced than standard modern Greek by the archaic Doric variant of Greek. The dialect is most pronounced in the Sfakia , the formerly secluded landscape of the White Mountains ( Lefka Ori ). Even for Greek native speakers, the Cretan dialect is often difficult or even impossible to understand. Various Greek websites with Cretan-Greek word lists can be found on the Internet, and Spratt's travelogue mentioned above also contains a detailed dictionary in the appendix, which reflects the language level around the middle of the 19th century.

Illegal gun possession

The gun ownership has a long tradition in Crete. According to estimates by the Greek police, there are 1.5 million undeclared firearms in Greece, more than half of them in Crete. Most of them date from the time of the German occupation . The custom of shooting in the air at weddings and other celebrations is still very common. These joyful shots and firearm accidents claim several lives in Crete every year. After a nine-year-old was accidentally hit and seriously injured during a wedding in the summer of 2004, an anti-weapons movement was launched, which was also supported by prominent Cretans such as Mikis Theodorakis . However, there are still frequent reports of shootings and weapon finds.


Map of Crete from 1861

Crete was demonstrably from about 6000 BC. Settled throughout, the oldest traces of human inhabitants go back at least 130,000 years, as archaeological finds at nine sites in the south of the island prove.

From the third millennium BC on, the Minoan culture was the first advanced civilization on European soil. Around 1450 BC With the Mycenaeans, the first Greek-speaking population took over the palaces of their predecessors. With the arrival of other Greek tribes, who settled on Crete in the following centuries, the language of the Minoans was gradually displaced.

In classical times, Crete was on the edge of the Greek cultural area, it was considered the "island of 100 poleis ", so it was divided into numerous small city-states. The text of the law of the then powerful Polis Gortyn , carved in stone, is the only completely preserved codex of this type from ancient Greece. At the time of the Hellenism , Crete regained its strategic importance. From 67 BC Ruling Romans ruled Crete in the province of Creta et Cyrene from Gortyn together with what is now the Libyan coast of Cyrenaica .

Venetian port of Rethymno

The Byzantine epoch, which lasted from 395 to 1204 , was interrupted between 824 and 961 by the conquest of Crete by Muslims who founded the emirate of Crete . However, the island fell back to the Byzantines in the 10th century. After the Fourth Crusade and the conquest of Constantinople, Crete fell to the Republic of Venice , which administered the island as Regno di Candia from Heraklion.

Egyptian-Ottoman aqueduct

From 1645 to 1648 the Turks conquered almost the entire island and incorporated it into the Ottoman Empire as Girit ( Ottoman گريد) , only Candia withstood a siege until 1669 . Numerous popular uprisings against Ottoman suzerainty in the 19th century were brutally suppressed. From 1830 to 1840 Crete was formally under the administration of the Welsh of Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha . In 1898, the intervention of France, Russia and the United Kingdom forced almost complete autonomy for Crete under the suzerainty of the Sublime Porte . With the Treaty of London of 1913, Crete finally became part of the Greek state; in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, extensive population exchange was agreed. Around 50,000 Turks had to leave the island, and many Greeks from Asia Minor settled on Crete.

During the Second World War , the strategically important island of Crete was conquered by the German Wehrmacht in the airborne battle for Crete in May 1941 and occupied until 1945. Various resistance movements, supported by British agents, fought against the German occupation. The Wehrmacht carried out massacres and hostage shootings in numerous Cretan locations. The partisan war of the politically differently positioned resistance movements against the German occupation went almost seamlessly into the Greek Civil War from 1946 onwards .


Together with the smaller surrounding islands, Crete forms one of the 13 regions (Ez. Periféria περιφέρεια) of Greece. The region is divided into four regional districts, which correspond to the areas of the prefectures until 2010.

See: Crete (Greek region)

Culture and sights


Psarandonis and his daughter

Greek folk music has its own direction on Crete . The predominant instruments are the lyra (a type of knee violin), various types of bouzouki and the laouto (a form of lute ). Representatives include Mikis Theodorakis , Psarandonis , his brother Nikos Xylouris (1936–1980), Yannis Markopoulos and Ross Daly .
Sirtaki is not considered to be originally Cretan music.


The oldest preserved plant images from the 16th to 14th centuries BC can be found on Crete. As part of a fresco painting (crocus meadow in the Minoan palace), a sculpture (poppy seed capsules in the headdress of the poppy goddess of Gazi ) and a ceramic decoration (beaked jug with reed decoration from Phaistos in flora style).

El Greco * 1541 in Heraklion on Crete; † 1614 in Toledo ; actually Domínikos Theotokópoulos , was a painter of Greek origin and main master of Spanish Mannerism and the late Renaissance . He also worked as a sculptor and architect . His artistic work began in Crete with training as an icon painter in the Byzantine tradition.



Mantinades (Gr. Mandinades Μαντινάδες, plural to Mandinada ) are a widespread traditional form of song and performance in Crete. The Cretan mantinades are Byzantine fifteen silver in the local predominant dialect and are performed as spoken chants by changing singers. The rhyming pairs usually end with ending or cross rhyme forms, or are used to respond to a previously recited rhyme. In addition to a large number of established and well-known stanzas, modified or completely improvised stanzas are inserted by the singers, which can become a kind of competition when the various speakers interplay. The number of rhymes written down is large, the themes of love, hope, mourning, exile, war and blood revenge usually form the main focus. The traditional mantinades are for the most part accompanied by the Cretan instrument, the lyre.

The origins of the Cretan Mantinades go back to the 15th century when Crete was occupied by Venice . The Cretan culture at that time was strongly influenced by European poets and thinkers. The Greek poet Vitsentzos Kornaros and his work Erotokritos were instrumental in the creation of the Mantinades. But even in ancient times, rhymes and lyrics were part of Cretan culture. The Cretan philosopher and seer Epimenides always proclaimed his prophecies in rhyming verses, just like Iophon of Knossos, who expressed his powers of vision in the oracle of Amphiaraos with the help of rhymes. In Crete, the rhyme was first used by Stéphanos Sachlíkis in the 14th century.

Mantinades are not only performed in Crete. There are similar rhyming songs also called Mantinades on the Greek islands of Kasos and Karpathos . Similar forms of musical performance can be found on various of the Ionian and Aegean islands. They also exist in Cyprus under the name Tsatista. Since very few mantinades were written down in previous centuries, a house of the mantinades was opened in the Cretan village of Korfes , in which all components of this musical culture can be viewed.

On the basis of popular songs and stories, Vitsentzos Kornaros created the romance novel Erotokritos of high poetic quality around 1610, made up of 10,000 rhyming fifteen syllables .


A rich and popular theater culture developed in Crete in the late 16th and 17th centuries, with the materials borrowed from Italy. The main representative is Georgios Chortatsis .

Historic sites

Palace of Knossos
Phaistos (Festos)

The historical sites of Crete include:

The German military cemetery in Maleme is related to the airborne battle for Crete in World War II .

Natural sites

Askifou plateau, western Crete
Beach at Elafonisi
View from the Gramvousa Peninsula in northwest Crete


Plateaus of:

Beaches and bays:


Economy and Infrastructure

Olive tree and goats
Sitia Harbor, Eastern Crete

The main industry is tourism . Compared with the GDP of the EU expressed in purchasing power standards Crete reaches an index of 81.5 (EU-25: 100) (2003).


Agriculturally , the island is mainly used for growing wine , olives and fruit . A large part of Cretan viticulture is used for the production of raisins . The few plains of Crete in the southeast, the Lasithi plateau and the Messara plateau are characterized by numerous greenhouse cultures in which vegetables and salads are grown both for personal use and for export .

The island is one of the largest olive oil exporters in the European Union . At the end of the 1990s, around 16 million olive trees grew on 44 percent of the agricultural area . In Kavousi in North Crete is one of the oldest olive trees in the world. The olive branches that were placed on the athletes during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens were cut from its branches .


The Europastraße 75 with bridges and tunnels near Malia

Crete has three airports in the cities of Heraklion , Chania and Sitia .

There are ferry connections to Piraeus ( Athens ), all year round to Thessaloniki , Santorin , Karpathos , Rhodes or during the season from Kissamos to Gythio in the Peloponnese . Ships operate on the south coast from Chora Sfakion to Agia Roumeli at the exit of the Samaria Gorge . In the tourist season (approx. April to October) there are almost daily connections to the southernmost island of Europe, the small inhabited island of Gavdos .

There is no railway line on Crete. The most important means of public transport is the bus service operated by the KTEL cooperative .

Expressway 90 ( Europastraße 75 ) will be expanded in stages to become Autobahn 90 . The bypasses of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion have been completed so far. Side roads, which are still described as gravel roads in current travel guides, are paved , for example the east-west connection through the Asfendou plain from Asi Gonia to Imbros . The previously disadvantaged south of Crete benefited from the expansion.


Crete has two universities: the University of Crete and the Technical University of Crete, as well as some colleges. The universities include: the state Technological Educational Institute of Crete (TEI CRETE) and the private MBS College of Crete .


Kazantzakis' tomb in Heraklion

See also



  • Theocharis E. Detorakis: History of Crete. Heraklion 1997, ISBN 960-90199-4-3 . Extensive historical representation up to the end of the Cretan autonomy. A small final chapter extends to the German occupation.
  • J. Lesley Fitton: The Minoans . British Museum Press, London 2002, ISBN 978-0-7141-2140-6 ( Peoples of the past ). German: The Minoans . Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1862-5 . Topics: Everyday life, agriculture, architecture, religion, economy and society of Crete in the period approx. 3000–1200 BC Chr.

During the German occupation 1941–1945

  • Ulrich Kadelbach: Shadows without a man . 2nd Edition. Balistier, Mähringen 2002, ISBN 3-9806168-5-1 , ( Sedones 5).
  • Karina Raeck: Αντάρτης. Μνημείο για την Ειρήνη. Andartis. Monument to Peace . 2nd corrected edition. Βιβλιοεκδοτική, Athens 2005, ISBN 3-9804575-2-4 (Greek and German).
  • Marlen von Xylander: The German occupation on Crete 1941-1945. Rombach, Freiburg 1989, 153 pages, ISBN 3-7930-0192-X

Historical travel reports

travel Guide

  • Eberhard Fohrer: Crete. 19th edition. Michael Müller, Erlangen 2012, ISBN 978-3-89953-692-8
  • Dagmar Lange, Monika Wächter: Travel Guide Nature Crete . BLV, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-405-15524-X .
  • Ulrich Kull, Stergos Diamantoglou: Crete . Geological Guide Collection Volume 107. Verlag Gebr. Borntraeger Stuttgart, 2012. ISBN 978-3-443-15095-2

Web links

Commons : Crete  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Crete  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Crete  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. Results of the 2011 census at the National Statistical Service of Greece (ΕΛ.ΣΤΑΤ) ( Memento from June 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (Excel document, 2.6 MB)
  2. ^ A b Charles Arnold (ed.): The islands of the Mediterranean . A unique and complete overview. 2nd Edition. marebuchverlag, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-86648-096-4 .
  3. ^ Fritz Gschnitzer: Elis-Eleia and related things. To form Greek country and peoples names. In: Small writings on Greek and Roman antiquity, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07805-3 , p. 90.
  4. Odyssey , Book 19, verse 176 ( online )
  5. ^ Wilhelm Vollmer: Dr. Vollmer's dictionary of the mythology of all peoples , Third Edition, Stuttgart 1874, Reprint Leipzig 1990, ISBN 3-921695-13-9
  6. Harry Thurston Peck: Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Harper and Brothers, New York 1898 ( online ).
  7. The geology of Greece with special consideration de. In: Retrieved September 24, 2015 .
  8. World Atlas of Resources and Environment ( Memento of August 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), Ed. Hölzel 1998
  9. Jolivet et al .: Aegean tectonics: Strain localization, slab tearing and trench retreat . In: Tectonophysics . tape 597-598 , SI. Elsevier, June 12, 2013, p. 33 .
  10. Greece - a birthplace of volcanology. In: Retrieved January 20, 2015 .
  11. This and the following according to Nikos Mourtzas, Eleni Kolaiti, Marco Anzidei: Vertical land movements and sea level changes along the coast of Crete (Greece) since Late Holocene , in: Quaternary International, online since October 29, 2015.
  12. a b c d Crete. In: Retrieved April 12, 2020 .
  13. a b Beautiful Crete. In: WDR television. Archived from the original on January 25, 2005 ; Retrieved February 7, 2009 .
  14. List of natural disasters. Volcanic eruptions, natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, storm surges all over the world. In: Retrieved February 7, 2009 .
  15. Earthquake shakes the holiday island of Crete. In: September 14, 2001, Retrieved February 7, 2009 .
  16. ↑ Vacation shock: Crete is shaking. In: Hamburger Abendblatt , May 23, 2002, accessed on February 7, 2009 .
  17. Medium earthquake shakes Crete
  18. Earthquake in Crete. In: Hamburger Abendblatt , August 20, 2002, accessed on February 7, 2009 .
  19. Earthquake shakes Greek islands. (No longer available online.) In: scinexx. February 7, 2004, archived from the original on January 12, 2012 ; Retrieved February 7, 2009 .
  20. Crete shaken by earthquakes. (No longer available online.) In: scinexx. November 4, 2004, archived from the original on June 15, 2008 ; Retrieved February 7, 2009 .
  21. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Magnitude 6.7 Soutern Greece )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  22. Earthquake: Greeks get away with horror. In: January 8, 2006, accessed February 7, 2009 .
  23. Earthquake shakes the Mediterranean island of Crete. In: . October 12, 2013, accessed January 20, 2015 .
  24. Poster on the earthquakes in 2015. In: GFZ Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam . Retrieved January 19, 2019 .
  25. M 4.9 - 11km NW of Gazion, Greece. In: Retrieved October 12, 2019 .
  26. J. Hantz: Distribution of Oxalis pes-caprae L. in the East Mediterranean region. In: Annales Musei Goulandris Vol. 7, 1986, pp. 49-56.
  27. Alexandra van der Geer , George Lyras, John de Vos and Michael Dermitzakis: Evolution of island mammals. Adaptation and extinction of placental mammals on islands. Oxford 2010 (here pp. 43–61), ISBN 978-1-4051-9009-1 , ( limited preview in Google book search)
  28. Kölner Stadtanzeiger of September 10, 2005: "The Devil's Triangle of Crete"
  29. Kreta-Umweltinfo Merkblatt Nr. 180-06 (2006) Scientific Working Group Obertshausen-Mosbach (PDF; 224 kB)
  30. According to Peter Squires, at least half of all households in Crete should have illegal weapons: Gun Culture or Gun Control? Firearms and Violence: Safety and Society , London 2000, p. 137.
  31. Other observers estimate that there are more than a million weapons on the island, see Victoria Kyriakopoulos: Kreta , 2009, ISBN 3-8297-1607-9 , p. 48.
  32. weapons in Crete 19 April, 2012.
  33. EKEO (Greek Center for Gun Control: Arms and Vendettas in Crete) (Greek)
  34. Call by Mikis Theodorakis from November 26, 2004: "Crusade against firearms in Crete" ( Memento from January 20, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  35. The Press of September 4, 2008: "Traditional Shootings - Arrests in Crete"
  36. of March 29, 2013: “Guns and ammunition for every taste” (Greek)
  37. Ancient Hominids Took to the Seas in: Discovery News, Jan. 11, 2010.
  38. Island of Crete - News & History. Retrieved April 17, 2017 .
  39. ^ Marlen von Xylander: The German occupation on Crete 1941-1945. Freiburg 1989, ISBN 3-7930-0192-X , passim .
  40. Arn Strohmeyer: The lyre sings, dances and laughs: On the magic of Cretan music . Balistier 2013, ISBN 978-3-937108-30-8 .
  41. ^ Costis Davaras: Knossos and the Museum of Herakleion. Athens 1986, p. 89.
  42. ^ Franz-Christian Czygan : Medicinal Plant Gardens - Objects of Art. In: Journal of Phytotherapy. Volume 11, 1990, pp. 185-194, here: pp. 186 f.
  43. ^ Costis Davaras (1986), p. 78.
  44. Christina Becela-Deller: Ruta graveolens L. A medicinal plant in terms of art and cultural history. (Mathematical and natural science dissertation Würzburg 1994) Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1998 (= Würzburg medical historical research. Volume 65). ISBN 3-8260-1667-X , p. 142.
  45. Ulrich Moennig: The modern Greek literature. In: Kindler's new literary lexicon. Volume 19, Munich 1996, p. 972.
  46. ( Eurostat News Release 63/2006: Regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU 25 ( Memento of March 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ))
  47. Universities & Colleges in Crete. In: Retrieved October 19, 2016 .