the largest Greek island and the fifth largest island of the Mediterranean and
is divided into four Prefectures, each with its own capital - Chania
(Heraklion) and Lassithi (Agios
Nikolaos). It has been the favourite island for visitors for thousands of
The known history of Crete starts during the Neolithic ages. The beginning of
the Minoan Period (2,600-1,100 BC) coincides with the beginning of the Bronze
Age. The Minoans established a naval empire in the Mediterranean during this
period. Their civilization vanished abruptly with the most probable explanation
being the sudden eruption of the volcano in Santorini in about 1450 BC, which
created huge tidal waves that swept away all traces of the civilization. After
that the invasion of the Acheans and later, the Dorians marked the end of the
Crete was occupied in 67 BC by the Romans. Gortys, became the capital of the
province of Crete. Crete was part of the Byzantine Empire from 325 AD to 824 AD.
The Arab occupation of Crete was a thorn in Byzantium's side and they often
unsuccessfully tried to retake it. The unsuccessful campaigns came to end in 961
AD when the Byzantine General Nikephoros Fokas captured Crete after some fierce
battles. This marked the beginning of the Second Byzantine Period of Crete,
which ended in 1204. In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, Constantinople fell to
the Crusaders. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453), artists and
scholars from all parts of the former Byzantine Empire fled to Crete.
Crete was sold to the Venetians. Chandax (Heraklion), falls to the Turks in
1669. This occupation lasted until 1878. In 1898, with the intervention of the
then Great Powers, Crete was declared an autonomous state. Crete remained
autonomous until 1913 when it was united with Greece.