Crete is the largest Greek island as well as the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean. It constitutes the natural border of the Aegean Sea to the south as well as to the Libyan Sea to the north. Its distance from mainland Greece is roughly 160 kilometers. Heraklion is one of the four prefectures of Crete, while the homonymous city, located at the north part is the island’s capital and its largest harbor. Crete has a very long and rich history dating several thousand years to the past, and is nowadays characterized by its high touristic appeal owed to the island’s diverse landscape as well as its unique and colorful culture.
The History of Crete
Mythology has it that it was in a cave of Crete where the goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus. In that cave, Zeus was brought up by the nymphs while the demonical Kouretes would strike their shields loudly so that Cronus may not hear the crying of the baby Zeus and eat it. It was also to Crete that Zeus, disguised as a bull, took Europa so that they may enjoy their love together. Their union produced a son, Minos, who ruled Crete and turned it into a mighty island empire of the seas. In Minoan times, even Attica would pay a tribute tax to Crete, until Theseus, the Athenian prince, killed the Minotaur. The truth behind the myth is the existence of a mighty and wealthy kingdom and of a civilisation that is considered the most ancient one on the European continent.
In 1450 BC and again in 1400 BC the Minoan Civilization was successively devastated possibly due to the eruption of the volcano of Thera and was eventually led to its decline. In the wake of the devastation the Dorians arrived to settle on the island. They were later followed by the Romans. After the Roman rule, Crete becomes a province of Byzantium until the arrival of the Arabs who occupied the island for an entire century (824-961 BC). During the Arab domination, Crete became the lair of pirates who were based out of Chandakas, present day Heraklion.
Next, Crete fell under Byzantine rule again until the arrival of the Venetians who occupied the island for approximately 5 centuries leaving their stamp on the island’s culture. After the fall of Chandakas in 1669, the Turkish Occupation began marked by ferocious and bloody uprisings. At the end of the 19th century Turkish rule came to an end. The Cretan State was created with the King of Greece as the island’s High Commissioner. In 1913, Crete was finally joined officially with Greece.
Heraklion Underwater City
It was believed to be a mythical city, until of course it was actually discovered. Some believe that its discovery changed history as we know it forever. The ancient city of Heracleion was known to many ancient Greek philosophers, among them Herodotus, who referred to this ancient city in numerous of his writings, although the existence of this city wasn’t proven until the nineteenth century. With the discovery of Heracleion , countless enigmas were solved and we managed to learn so much more about our past through this ancient city.
As most of the incredible discoveries, this too was made by accident when marine archaeologist Franck Goddio was looking for warships that sank during the Battle of the Nile in 1798 that belonged to Napoleon along the coast of Alexandria, and just when he thought that there was nothing down there, he came across one of the most important discoveries a marine archaeologist can make.
Among the Egyptians and Greek, the city was referred to as Heraklionpor Thonis. It was believed to have been a prosperous empire between the seventh century BC and the eight century AD. The location of the city was just off the coast of Alexandria in the Aboukir Bay.
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