This island's fertile soil and towering peaks witnessed the development of one of the most important civilizations on Earth, the Minoan (2800-1150 B.C.). In successive phase, the Minoans built palace-states; the famous palatial centres of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros (1700-1450 B.C.).
The painters and ceramicists show us the limits the refinement of art can reach.
Their frescoes bring us close to the soul of that world, peace-loving, light-hearted, but also powerful.
They bring us close to the sea and its wealth.
A geological catastrophe -the eruption of the volcano of Santorini in 1450 B.C.- halted the Minoan civilization at its height.
But life did not cease. Through shipping, commerce and trade opened up new horizons. The cities Lato and Aptera were founded by the Achaians and the Dorians. Lato became the most important city on Crete (7th century B.C.). Another distinguisted centre was Gortyn.
Christianity came to the island early, due to the Letters of Apostolos Pavlos to Titos, who also became a Saint.
During the Byzantine era the wealth of Crete was shown off in the mosaic floors of its basilicas and in half the churches of Hellas.
But many others had their eye on these riches. The Arabs took the island in their hands from 824 to 961. Then the island was passed to the Venetians. Therefore the castles (you will find no ancient wall surroundings, due to the unique in the world historical 1000 year piece period which occurred on the Minoan Times) built in Gramvoussa, Spinalonga, Frangokastello, Ierapetra, Paleohora, essencial to their defence.
Although the island was shaken form time to time by the rebellious populace, it continued to develop both economically and cultrurally.
Domenicos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco, Damaskinos and other iconographers painted exquisite portraits of Virgin Mary and Christ.
Under the vaulted gates and arched windows troubadours passed singing ballads by Hortantzis about the suffering of Erotokritos and Erophili.
In 1645 the Muslim conquerors set foot on the island for the first time. In 1669 Crete fell to the Turks. Not until 1913 was the island united with the rest of Hellas.