Exploring the History of Crete
The Greek island of Crete has for many decades been a favourite haunt of UK holidaymakers, drawn to its shores by sand, sand, sea and dedicated tourists resorts. But if you delve a little deeper into its past you will see that there is so much more to this popular island. In fact, there are not many places in Europe which have experienced such a turbulent history, both recent and in its mythical past.
A holiday here should of course involve beaches and night-time fun, but it is also important to understand the events which have sculptured modern day Crete
The Birth of Zeus
It is said that Zeus, king of the Gods, was born in a cave on Crete, although there is a dispute between two caves who both claim to be the true birthplace. Depending on who you believe, the mythical Zeus was born in either theDikteon Cave in south-central Crete or the Ideon Cave on the highest mountain in Crete. Zeus’s mother gave birth in a cave to protect him from her husband who it is said had a habit of eating children. Charming.
Union with Greece
These days people automatically and naturally assume that Crete is part of Greece, but this was not always the case. Crete remained separate and under Turkish rule until1st of December, 1913, when after over 250 years of Turkish rule, the Greek flag was hoisted on the island following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.The island was also briefly under the control of Egypt and goes some way to explaining why there are so many different influences on all aspects of Crete life, from its architecture to its cuisine.
The Battle of Crete
Whilst today the beaches of Crete are a favourite for those on cheap all inclusive holidays, back during World War II one of the fiercest battles of the war took place over Crete.
Crete was the scene of the largest German airborne operation of the war, and the successful invasion by the Nazis marked the first time in history that an island had been taken by airborne assault. The commander was awarded the highest German military honour and over 4000 casualties were reported. Any British tourists who are students of the war would be very interested in a visit to Crete and there are numerous sites where you can get your history fix.
Crete these days is more known for its numerous holiday hotspots, but if you enjoy culture and history, then make sure you incorporate a bit of history on your trip too.