Minoan women

Crete not only has a long history, it was also home to a unique early civilisation, today known as the Minoans. The Minoan civilisation reached its peak in the centuries after 2000 BC and finally lost out to invaders from abroad around 1200 BC. The Palace of Knossos, the most famous of the Minoan palaces, was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans at the beginning of this century but in recent years, his interpretation of the evidence he found has been challenged.


What is not in doubt is that the Minoans built some extremely large and complex buildings, were organised in a very advanced society for its time and were capable of producing some fine art. The museum at Heraklion in Crete, which houses most of the Minoan finds on the island, is probably second in importance only to the National Museum in Athens.


Crete has been invaded by many peoples over the centuries -- the Romans, the Arabs, the Venetians and finally the Turks. All of them have left their stamp on the island but the Cretans have survived them all, and were still proud enough to put up a fierce resistance to the German invasion in May 1941.

Rethymno has many reminders of its Ventian and Turkish rulers. The enormous castle walls, the old harbour and many of the larger buildings in the Old Town are Ventian, while the minarets and Arabic inscriptions from the Koran to be seen at various points in the town, remind us of the hundreds of years of Turkish rule.

Venetian Harbour

Although modern tourism is changing the face of Rethymno, the old town still retains much of its charm and it is wonderful to walk through the narrow streets, admire the old buildings and imagine yourself back in a time when Muslems and Christians, Turks and Greeks lived side by side in the town, going about their business.

Apart from tourism, the island produces excellent olive oil, wine, of which the best examples are the red Mandiko and Archanes, and much of the mountainous area is used for keeping flocks of sheep and goats.

Rimondi Fountain

The island of Crete is rather barren but beautiful for all that. The best time to see the island is on sunny Winter days and in the Spring. With the sun low in the sky the colours on a sunny day have an intensity that it is difficult to match anywhere else. The blue sky, dark blue sea, the yellowy green of the fields, carpeted in Oxalys, which grows throughout the Mediterranean, the reds of the earth and the white snow on the mountains make for an unbeatable combination. Tourists who come in the summer miss Crete at its best.

Photos (from top) : 1) Fresco of Minoan women; 2) Knossos; 3) Minaret, Rethymno; 4) The Old Town, Rethymno; 5) Rethymno harbour; 6) Rimondi Fountain, Rethymno.

There's always a welcome for the tourist in Rethymno. A glass of raki -- the local spirit -- and a mezes, a few tidbits to eat with your drink, are frequently offered. So why not pay us a visit and find out for yourself why so many tourists come back time and time again.

For more photos of Crete visit my Crete in Pictures site with many large photos of Crete as the tourists never see it.

Minoan Crete is a site (begun in November 1998) which at present contains photos of around 60 Minoan archaeological sites in Crete and video clips of some of them.

The best Web site for information about Crete is Interkriti. Visit for an aerial tour of the island and information on the history, myths, economy and more.

Karpathos in Pictures contains 34 of my photos taken in 1988 on the neighbouring island of Karpathos, mainly in the mountain village of Olympos where women still wear traditional costume in their everyday work, and life is lived in a way that no longer exists in other parts of Greece and is probably destined to die out soon on Karpathos itself.

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