Looking for some wanderlust inspiration? Here is our Oscar Suites & Village handpicked list of fun and intriguing facts about Crete, to whet your appetite for discoveries and explorations.
Stunning beaches, epic food, awe-inspiring monuments, gorgeous architecture, evocative music, age-old traditions, picturesque villages, proud locals and so much more…The list of Crete’s charms is endless really – that’s why this sunkissed island should be on every dedicated traveller’s bucket list. Whether you’re a solo visitor, a couple on your honeymoon, or on a holiday with your family and friends, Crete is one of the most fascinating places on the planet, with a wealth of hidden treasures, secret stories and behind-the-scenes attractions beckoning the explorer in you. These fun and intriguing facts about Crete, will fuel your wanderlust and inspire you to venture beyond the beaten path, delve deep into ancient mysteries or even become amateur naturalists or history buffs.
1. Size matters
One of the most distinctive facts about Crete has to do with dimensions. Stretching for 260 Km (161 miles), it is the largest island in Greece, the 5th biggest in the Mediterranean – only behind Corsica, Sicily, Cyprus, and Sardinia – and the 88th biggest in the world. Its widest point is 60 km (37 miles) and its narrowest is 11 km (7 miles), while it covers a total area of over 8300 sq km (5157 miles). Crete is also the most populous island in Greece with over 600.000 inhabitants (quite a few of them, expats and foreign pensioners!) living and loving there throughout the year. With so many things to do and see in Crete, make sure you have enough time to discover its many many gems.
2. Unique healing powers
Hippocrates, the father of medicine himself asserted that Crete’s distinct air has healing powers that can perform miracles on anybody’s health! No wonder, then, that so many Europeans choose this island for their happy retirement.
3. Famous offspring
One’s birthplace has a marked influence on their character – and Crete is the home of several important artists, including Nikos Kazantzakis – the prolific author of the emblematic Zorba the Greek, El Greco, the influential Renaissance painter, and Chaniot Nana Mouskouri – a world-famous opera singer. Hollywood’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston is also the daughter of Cretan actor Yannis Anastassakis who changed his name to John Aniston.
4. The birthplace of Zeus
Speaking of famous offspring, there is arguably no one more important than Zeus – the omnipotent, mythological ruler of men and gods. As the legend goes, his father Kronos had a horrible habit of swallowing his children whole as soon as they were born, afraid as he was, that they would overthrow him. So Zeus’ mother, Rhea, cunningly disguised him as a rock and sent him to Crete, where he was raised in a cave by the goat Amalthea. This is a quite well-known fact about Crete – what you might not know though, is that there are two different caves on the island claiming to have been Zeus’ first home: the Psychro cave in the Lasithi Plateau and the Ideon Cave on Mount Psiloritis.
5. There are no harmful animals on Crete – just some of the world’s most unique species
The site of many fabled tales, Crete holds a special place in the pantheon of Greek mythology – the epic set of allegorical narratives which largely informed the ancients’ worldview. One of these legends claims that Hercules, the greatest mythological hero, in his attempt to please his father Zeus, drove all harmful animals away from Crete. Whether this holds true nowadays is debatable of course – yet one of the most intriguing facts about Crete is that it is home to wildlife growing nowhere else in the world. The most famous is the kri kri, the mountain Cretan goat, also known as agrimi. This gorgeous creature lives in the gorge of Samaria and on Theodorou island – which you’ll be able to spot from your base in Agia Marina-Platanias. Other rare endemic animals are the Cretan wildcat (fourokatos –i.e.”furious cat”) – a unique breed of feline that is one of the world’s most endangered feral cats; and the Cretan shrew – actually, the smallest mammal known to man. And if we go further back, in prehistoric times, Crete was also home to its own species of elephants which were considered mini mammoths!
6. More than one island
Crete’s sheer size guarantees you’ll not have a moment’s boredom – and it just keeps on giving! Off its Aegean and Libyan coasts, there are several small islands – some remote and isolated, others are accessible by boat or even ferry as in the case of paradisiacal Gavdos in the south. If a spot of nautical adventure sounds appealing make sure to ask us about trips to Chrissi, Paximadia, Gavdos and Elafonisi in the south, as well as Gramvousa, Souda, Theodorou, and Spinalonga in the North.
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