The island of Crete
(the major island)
Located at the crossroads of the western and the eastern worlds, the island of CRETE is a land of origins : cultural origins, democratic origins, gastronomic origins, mythological origins ...
It is also the cradle of the first European civilization: the Minoans...
Europe, Queen of Crete and mother of Minos, gave her name to our continent. The Gortyne site is the place where you will find the first tables of laws, which we still use today. Gaia, The Earth, its products, the abundance of spring water, the fauna, the flora, are some secrets of the Cretan Diet. Beliefs, Religion, solidarity, family values, moral values, sincerity, sense of honor, all overused words that are here a reality at the heart of a strong and full social life.
Three mountain ranges Lefka Ori (2453 m), Psiloritis (2456 m) and Dikti (2148 m), many high plateaus and a multitude of hills make the "rebel island" a place with constantly renewed landscapes. These massifs share Crete in two, the north and the south are very different, both geologically and climatically. Lush vegetation in the north, desert in the south, more and more naked landscapes from west to east ....
Crete has a Mediterranean climate and an omnipresent sun. Large expanses of white sand sit side by side with sublime rocky creeks, allowing one to enjoy, "siga siga" (softly, softly) Cretan peace and quiet.
With more than 8300 km of surface, Crete is one of the largest islands of the Mediterranean Sea (5th rank, after Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and Cyprus and the largest island of Greece). It stretches from east to west for about 280 kilometers. Its width varies between 60 kilometers at the widest and 15 kilometers at least wide. It is populated with 650 000 inhabitants.
The mountain axis which occupies all its length delimits a north slope and a south slope, very different from each other in terms of climate and vegetation. Nature lovers will be seduced by the expanse of olive groves, orange and lemon trees, oleanders and bougainvillea. Crete is the favorite terrain for rapacious birds. One of the peculiarities of the Cretan landscape are the wild gorges, of which the most famous are those of Samaria and the arid, quasi-circular plateaus, such as the Lassithi plateau.
Despite its mountainous soil, Crete is fertile. The crops are extensive and the production varied. On the mountains, nuts and chestnuts. Olive trees and vines in the middle zone. The Cretan vineyards also give excellent wines. Other productions of Cretan agriculture, developing: carob, pea, mountain tea, beans, oregano, flax ... In plain, near the Messara, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, bananas. .. grow in large quantities. It is the largest agricultural region of Crete.
47% of cultivable areas are planted with olive trees, 22% of vines (table grapes, Smyrna raisins, wine grapes).
Beekeeping is booming, as well as cheese making:
- the Graviera
- the Mysithra
- anthotyro ...
Cereals are less and less cultivated because they are imported from Thessaly at advantageous prices. They are nonetheless consumed because they are part of the Cretan Diet.
Livestock represents a very important part of the agricultural economy (sheep, goats ...).
No industry in Crete, but a flourishing craft.
Although having chosen "Enosis" (union with Greece) in 1913 to protect their territory from multiple invasions, the island is autonomous, even rebellious. The administrative capital of the island is: Heraklion. The main cities are: Rethymno, Xania, Sitia, Ierapetra.
Cretans have their own history, ancestral customs and very specific codes, which must be respected. They are known for their inflexible spirit, their love of freedom and their independence. They were the leaders in all the struggles of the Greek people.
They know how to dissociate the true from the false, the precious from the foil, the usefulness of the superficial. They go to the basics. Very often, they will know how to "let go of the ballast" to better overcome then ... A fine strategy to avoid conflicts. Independence and autonomy reign on this island.
However, a feeling of security and serenity invades, as soon as they arrive, all those who cross the Cretan soil.
Here, the words LIBERTY and HONOR (philotimo) still have meaning.
A beautiful lesson of life, based on the human relationship, authenticity and tolerance.
Dare to meet with people,
a philosophy, a know-how and a culture that will not leave you unscathed ...