History - Introduction

Crete is an island of contradictions at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – with a distinctive long history that goes back to the 6th millennium B.C. In 2600-1100 B.C. the most brilliant civilization, known as the Minoan civilization emerged and flourished and the island prospered.

The invasion of the Achaens and later of Dorians followed, and in 500 B.C. Crete declined through the classical and Hellenistic periods.

From 67 B.C. to 330 A.D. the Romans occupied the island, and afterwards Crete became a province of the Byzantine Empire. Saracens followed in occupation, until the island was liberated by the Byzantine General Nikiphoros Phokas, who turned Crete into a Byzantine province again until 1204, when it was conquered by the Venetians.

From 1669 to 1898 Crete went through the Turkish Occupation, which was the darkest period of all times and during which progress slowed down to a great extent.

After many struggles and wars Crete was finally united with the rest of Greece in 1913.

Mythology is also deeply intertwined with History and one cannot ignore the significance of the Cretan Monasteries and the major role they had in the liberation of the island.

Crete also boasts important archaeological sites and museums with the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion being one of the richest in Greece.