Crete, the island of surprises and contrasts...
High mountains and deep gorges, archaeological sites alongside traditional villages where life continues in a relaxed and friendly way, clear blue seas bordered by golden sandy beaches. Zeus, the king of Greek gods, was said to have been born in a cave on Mount Idi, the highest mountain. He represented hospitality and his spirit lives on today in the hearts of all Cretan people.
Geography Crete is the largest Greek island. It covers 8,336 sq m with 1.100 kms of coastline. It is considered as one of the most prosperous areas in Greece. Its development has been favoured by its historically strategic geographical location, climate, diverse natural beauty as well as its unique cultural and historical treasures. Crete is renowned for its breath-taking mountain ranges and long sandy beaches running down to aquamarine seas. This particular geography allows the existence of a large number of rare flora and fauna species, such as the sea lily along the coastal zones, sea turtles Caretta Caretta in Rethymnon and Eleonora's Falcon (falcon Eleonore) in Lassithi. In the valleys and semi-mountainous areas, one can find more than 100 different varieties of flowers and plants, while in the high mountains and deep Cretan gorges the visitor may encounter interesting flora and fauna including the wild goat kri kri, which is found only in Crete.
Climate Crete enjoys perhaps one of the best subtropical Mediterranean climates with over 300 days and more than 3,000 hours of sunshine each year. The light rainy season is normally confined to the period between November and March. Mild temperatures prevail year round.
Population The population of Crete currently is approximately 600,000 people. The majority of inhabitants live in the four main towns of the island, Chania, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos and the capital Heraklion. The remainder of the population is spread in smaller towns and scattered fishing and mountain villages.
History and Culture of Rethymnon Rethymnon, on the north coast of Crete, lies on the island's longest sandy beach and is known by visitors as the "hidden jewel" of Crete. Since 1400 BC the Minoans, Venetians, Turks and Cretans have built their ancient cities, minarets, citadels, the hilltop Fortezza, winding narrow streets, fishing harbour and lighthouse here which create an old-world charm. Situated midway between Heraklion and Chania, Rethymnon is also only a short distance from the most spectacular countryside making it an ideal centre to explore the island. Rethymnon, the only well-preserved Renaissance town in Greece, is famous for its literature & arts. The region of Rethymnon is rich in archaeological sites. The prefecture of Rethymnon features unique natural beauty. It has the highest mountain range in Crete, Mount Idi (Psiloritis), home to many sanctuaries including the famous Ideon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born.