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CRETAN CULTURe & history

The Cretans are people who are proud of the culture, customs and traditions.  Quite often you will see in the local kafenion musicians striking up playing the typical Cretan music.  Many dances from all around the island are performed by locals or professionals at weddings and baptisms.  During the tourist season there are many chances to observe and join in. 

Easter is probably the main festival in the whole of Greece, but many festivals are held throughout the year on Crete so be sure to get yourselves there for a truly inspired Cretan experience.


Around 2000BC the Minoan civilization lived on and cultivated Crete, building wonderful palaces. The most famous of these can be found at Knossos, but don’t forget about Phaistos, Malia, Zakros and Archanes. The civilization was wiped out following a natural disaster, after which the Achaeans and Dorians dominated Crete.  Then came the Byzantine period in 67BC and Crete became an important part in Christianity.  After a few hundred years, the Saracens took Crete for a very short period of about 140 years, before the island was invaded by the Venetians in 1204.  The Ottoman Turks were next in 1669, remaining on Crete until 1898.  The Cretan people were once again part of Greece and trouble free until May 1941 when 17000 German Paratroopers invaded the island.  Many Cretans to this day will never forget the German occupation, as there are reminders all over Crete


There are many festivals all over Greece and the island of Crete has plenty to offer even if you are travelling outside of the holiday season.  The main festivals are religious and celebrated throughout Greece, such as Easter*, Christmas, May day and a very important date is the 15 August which celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  Watch out for specific Cretan festivals during your holiday, like the Battle of Crete week leading up to the 21 May, the anniversary of the German invasion in 1941.  Or during August / September time, there are many wine festivals to be enjoyed, and let’s not forget the Cherry festival, the Chestnut festival and a Sultana festival.