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Information about Crete

Crete is the largest Greek island and the fifth largest island of the Mediterranean and is divided into four Prefectures, each with its own capital - Chania (Hania), Rethymnon (Rethymno), Iraklion (Heraklion) and Lassithi (Agios Nikolaos). It has been the favourite island for visitors for thousands of years.

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 Minoan period.

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.

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