Crete is the 5th largest island of Mediterranean sea with a 8.261 km2 area. Governmental centre of the island is Heraklion which is located in northwest shore. Larger towns of the island, Chania, Rethymnon and Iraklion are all located at the north. Its climate changes between moderate to tropical.
First human settlements in Crete dates back around 4000 BC. A Bronze Age civilization known with the name of its legendary king Minos developed in the island in 3000 BC. There are many palaces built in Knossos, Phaistos and Mallia around 2000 BC. Crete becomes a state subject to North Africa with the in its conquest by Romans in 67 BC. It was handed over to Byzantine in 395 AD. After year 824 Arabs claim some parts of the island, and in 1204 Venetians claims all of the island. 5 centuries of Venetian occupation on the island left many marks on the island. In 17th century Ottomans claims a part of the island and in 1699 they conquer all of Crete by vanquishing Venetians. It is recorded that Turk population was mainly settles in Heraklion region during Ottoman period. Even today the warmth and familiarity of an Aegean village still dominates the town centre. After Ottomans leave the island in 1898, island was become subjected to Greek in 1913.
Heraklion : The town where most of the tourists enters to Crete. We already stated that 400 years of Venetian occupation leaves many works behind. Ottomans get the region from Venetians with the name Heraklion. Name Heraklion even used to name the entire island in some periods
Venizelos square of the town is the most active central point. Port located in the north, bazaars in the south and Heraklion Gate in the west of the square. The Saint Titos church in the city centre used as a mosque by the Ottomans. Heraklion Museum is one of the places deserve to visit with its rich collection, especially Hellenistic sculpture most attractive pieces in the museum. It’s possible to see many art works from rich history of Crete together. Baked clay figurines makes visitors feel the prehistoric ages. Furthermore many works from Minoan civilization are exhibited in the museum. Other places to see in Heraklion are Crete History Museum and house of the famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis (Mirtia Village), later converted to a museum. Dikte cave located in 50 km of Heraklion is believed to be the place where one of the pagan gods Zeus had lived.
Knossos Place is the most known and important Minoan Palace. This civilization which was the first settlers of Heraklion dates back to 3000 BC. It has been told that it was the oldest civilization in Crete Island based on the available knowledge. Palace located 5 km south of Heraklion. You can reach Knossos by bus from city centre.
Venetian ramparts and castle in the port are Venetian marks worth to see. Most important churches of the town are Saint Minas Cathedral, Saint Titus Church, Saint Katherine Church and Saint Mark Basilica.
Saint Titus Church used as a mosque in Ottoman period. It built in Byzantium period and repaired once by Venetians and once more in 1925. It still serving as a Orthodox church now.
Crete cuisine is considered as the healthiest Mediterranean cuisine by the nutritionists. Cooks in Crete has the skills to boil any herbs and make salads with lemon and olive oil. Radish, hibiscus, labada and chicory are just a few of these salads with sauces. Many of the restaurants and hotels have their own fields to grow natural products. Further Maghrata dish cook with different methods with lamb is the most famous food of Crete cuisine with its anise flavor. Also it shall not be forgotten that Crete people do amazing appetizers. You must eat the zucchini flower filled with rice. If you will want to eat fish you can find restaurants that you can eat the most delicious Aegean fish in any of the towns at the restaurants near ports.
It’s possible to reach Chania and Heraklion through Athens. There are 2 flights (Thursday-Sunday) every week between June and September from Istanbul. Further there is ferry from Pire Port to Crete. Pire to Heraklion takes 9 hours with fast ferry. In summer time there are more runs. You can reach to your hotel from port or airport by private transports with ease. The best way to travel in the island as you wish is to rent a car. There are also public transports by buses. There are frequent transfers between centers. It takes 2.5 hours between Chania and Heraklion by bus. If you want to visit towns without land transportation in the south you can reach those places by ferry. There is also ferry between Paleochora, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro and Hora Sfakion along with Gavdos Island in the south.