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Crete is the remaining part of the ancient Aegiada land, which used to join Greece to Asia Minor million of years ago. Nowadays Crete is characterised by its peculiar landscape and unique beauties. It is the biggest Greek island and one of the largest in the Mediterranean sea. Its total area is 8,260 square kilometres and has an oblong, horizontal shape.
It gives the impression that it was situated there, as a breakwater by the Greek gods in order to protect the holy Hellenic earth from the gigantic waves of the Libyan sea. Crete is considered the crossroad in the maritime ramblings of the three continents, which are washed by the Mediterranean. Therefore, its fertile soil was always looked upon as the target for conquest of many people in the Aegean.
The Minoans developed the first Hellenic civilisation based on the luxurious palace of Knossos, 4000 years ago. Nowadays, Knossos is a huge open-air museum. Unfortunately in 1400 BC the Minoan civilisation came to an end destroyed by the thrusting wave caused by the volcanic eruption in Thera.
This resulted to the removal of the residents to the North. According to archaeological findings in Cyclades and North Aegean there was a strong influence among the Aegean civilisations from Crete.
Crete is the birthplace of the Olympian Zeus, the painter Dominikos Theotokopoulos (famous as El Greco), the poet Vicenzo Kornaros, who wrote Erotokritos, the author of Zorba Nikos Kazantzakis, Eleftherios Venizelos, the greatest politician of Modern Greece and many others, internationally famed Greeks. The contemporary typical Cretans are characterised by their unique sense of independence and pride, differentiated from the residents of the rest of Greece. The local habits and customs are preserved unaltered despite the passing of time and manifest in every happy or unpleasant incident in their every day lives.
Almost all-year round, the Cretan sun shines over the Psiloretis' peaks and its imposing gorges, the sandy beaches and its high palm-trees. The contrast of the landscape is even more interesting, considering the closeness of those different sceneries.
Crete is characterised by the continuous succession of high mountains, fertile valleys, crowded cities, picturesque villages and cosmopolitan beaches, which lead to the admiration of these beauties.
The biggest cities of Crete are Chania, Rethymno, Heraklio and Agios Nikolaos, situated on the north coastline of the island. Some of the most modern and luxurious hotels in South Europe are located in and around those cities, which justify Crete being known as one of the most developed tourist resorts in the Mediterranean.
It is worth mentioning that despite the tourist development across the coastline, the residents of the mountainous inland spend their lives, in the old traditional way, enjoying drinking "tsikoudia", listening to the poetic "mantinades" and dancing "pentozali" to the rhythm of lyre. Apart from the tourist industry, Crete produces excellent wine, tsipouro, olive-oil, cheese and citrus- fruits, exported world-wide.