High mountains and deep gorges, archaeological sites alongside traditional villages where life continues in a relaxed manner, clear blue seas bordered by golden sandy beaches. All this and much more describes Crete. Birth land of Zeus, the father of Greek gods, whose legend has it that he was born in a cave on Mount Idi, the highest of Cretan mountains. Zeus, aside from being powerful, 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 m² with 1.100 km of coastline and is considered as one of the most prosperous areas in Greece. Its development has been favored by a historically strategic geographical location, a warm climate, diverse natural beauty as well as a unique cultural and historical treasure. Crete is renowned for its breathtaking mountain ranges and long sandy beaches running down to crystal clear seas. The prefecture of Rethymno features some of the most unique natural landscapes in Greece. It features the highest mountain range in Crete, Mount Idi (Psiloritis), home to many sanctuaries including the famous Ideon Andron where Zeus was born.
It is this type of geology that 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 Rethymno and Eleonora’s Falcon (falcon Eleonore) in Lasithi. 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 remarkable flora and fauna including the wild goat kri-kri, a species only found 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 rainy season is quite light and is normally confined to the period between November and March. Mild temperatures prevail all year round.
The current population of Crete is approximately 600,000 people. The majority of inhabitants live in the four main towns of the island, Chania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos and the capital, Herakleion. The remainder of the population is spread out in smaller towns and even smaller fishing and mountain villages.
Rethymno, located on the northern coast of Crete, lies on the island’s longest sandy beach and is known by visitors as the “hidden Cretan jewel”. Since 1400 BC the Minoans, Venetians, Turks and Cretans have all built their ancient cities, minarets and citadels in Rethymno, as well as the hilltop Fortezza, winding narrow streets, fishing harbor and lighthouses. Situated midway between Herakleion and Chania, Rethymno is only a short distance from the striking countryside, making it an ideal base for anyone wishing to explore the island. Rethymno, aside from being the only well-preserved Renaissance town in Greece, is famous for its literature & arts and its various archaeological sites.