CRETE

'Cree-ti' (Sea of Crete)

Crete Greece

TOPOGRAPHY

Crete, on the 35 parallel, is the largest Greek island and the 5th largest in the Med. Its land mass is 8,261 sq. km. and its coastline 1,046 km. The population is about 250,000.

The island is divided by the Greek government into 4 prefectures with 4 major towns/cities.

The major towns all lie on the north coast of the island. The South coast is less developed and a better bet to get away from the crowds. Heraclion is the best base for viewing antiquities such as Knossos and the Heraclion Archeological Museum where the major finds of the island are under safe keeping and on display.

Hania (Chania) is the furthest east, then Rethimno, Heraklion, and Aghios Nicolaou, the westernmost, in the Gulf of Mirabelo.

Because Crete is such a large island, I am only going to describe it very briefly at this point, it could easily have devoted to it, its own large book. I do recommend the 'Blue Guide' to Crete however. I have personally spent over 2 months on Crete and it has a lot to offer. The major thing being that it is so big, one forgets that its an island at all which can be a very good thing somtimes. Many Greek Islands are so small there is little to do besides party or work on your tan.

As you probably know, the first European civilization, the Minoan, was born in Crete. The worlds oldest flushing toilet (3000 BC) was in the Queens Bed Chamber at Knossos as is Europes' oldest paved road, not to the bed chamber but outside. (Queens dont have bed rooms they have bed chambers.) El Greco was from Crete as was Nikos Katzanzakis of Zorba the Greek Fame. Eleftheros Venizelous was a Creten also.

The island is most developed on its northern shore.

The southern coast is where to get away from the throngs.

Heraklion, built by the Arab Saracens, in 824, is the capital of the island with a population of 130,000. Its the most modern and bustling city and not as appealing it could be. Of course its been modernized and its museum houses most of the major archeological finds from sites around the island. The old town also remains with its Venetian walls and fortress.

Next comes Chania with 65,000 residents, a lot more character and a charming old Venetian quarter.

Rethimno is the 3rd largest city and has a Venetian quarter as well.

Aghios Nicolaou is the 4th largest and perhaps the most charming with its lovely lake.

There are several flights a day to Crete with Olympic and Air Greece (see links directory for their sites) as well as many ferryboats to its various ports. It is a 22 hr. voyage. You can see the many ferry schedules by clicking here

By clicking the inquiry link below you can have ferry or air tickets bought and delivered to you at your Athens Hotel and any other travel service you require anywhere in Greece, including car rental at reduced prices.

Crete general phones

Code +30 831

Prefectural Committee for the Promotion of Tourism 55765 - 52160
Police 100
Police Department 25247
Tourist Police 28156 -29148
Traffic Police 28891 - 22589
EOT (Greek Tourism Organisation) 29148 - 56350
Rethymno Town Hall 22245
Fire Brigade 199
Hospital 27491
Post Office 22303
Taxi 24316 - 25000
Olympic Airways 22257
ANEK Ferry Lines 29221
Minoan Ferry Lines 22941
KTEL (Buses) 22212
Organisation of Hotel owners in the Prefecture of Rethymno 55873
Organisation of Hotel owners in Aghia Galini 0832- 91380, 91333
Organisation of Hotel owners in Plakias 0832- 31280
Organisation of Mountaineering 57760
Archaeological Museum of Rethymno 54668
Folklore Museum of Rethymno 23398
Centre of Contemporary Art of Rethymno 52530 - 52689