Crete Facts
Crete Facts

22 Interesting Crete Facts That Will Surprise You

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 27, 2023
  • Crete is the most populous and largest of the Greek islands. It is also the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica.[10]
  • According to Greek mythology, Zeus was born in a Cretan cave. Two caves vie for the honor of being his birthplace, Dikteon Cave and Ideon Cave.[12]
  • According to Greek legend, King Minos of Crete imprisoned the minotaur in the Labyrinth on Crete. There, Cretans fed the minotaur human flesh, until Theseus killed the monster.[1]
  • The legend of Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus is set on Crete. The pair try to escape from the island on homemade wings, but Icarus flew too close to the sun and melted the wax on his wings, causing him to fall into the sea.[1]
  • Kri Kri Crete Fact
    Kri kri goats can only be found on Crete
  • The kri-kri goat, or the Cretan wild goat, is native to Crete. Its name means "wild one."[5]
  • Knossos, Crete, is the oldest city in Europe.[10]
  • Crete was actually not a Greek island until 1913. Before that, it was occupied by various countries.[10]
  • Cretans have their own type of poetry called "mantinada," which is Venetian for "morning song." This type of poetry is typically short, similar to limerick, and celebrates different aspects of life.[9]
  • Inventions from Crete include coins and money. The Minoans who lived on Crete also invented paved roads, underfloor central heating, underground plumbing pipes, and advanced sanitation.[10]
  • Actress Jennifer Aniston's Greek great-grandfather fought in the Cretan Revolt against the Ottomans in 1878. Her father, Yiannis Anastasakis, was born in Chania, Crete. He changed his name to John Aniston when he moved to the United States.[11]
  • Crete has a long tradition of gun ownership, and the island has the most relaxed gun laws in Greece.[3]
  • Crete was home to the Minoans, Europe's first advanced civilization, from 2700 to 1420 BC.[10]
  • King Crete Facts and History
    The first reference to Crete is from texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC. The island is called "Kaptara"

  • In the 18th century BC, the Syrians called Crete Kaptara, and the Assyrians called the island Capthor.[10]
  • According to Greek mythology, in an attempt to honor Zeus and his birthplace, Hercules eliminated all harmless animals from Crete.[1]
  • Pygmy mammoths once roamed Crete. Roughly the size of a dog, they became extinct due to climate change.[8]
  • Famous people from Crete include King Minos, Zeus, artist El Greco.[7]
  • Even though the Germans won the Battle of Crete, Cretan resistance against the Nazis during WW II significantly weakened Germany and helped turn the tide of the war.[3]
  • Crete's famous food is antikristo, which is actually a traditional technique of cooking meat. A young lamb or goat is cut into four pieces, or goulidia, and placed on large skewers around a fire. The name antikristo literally means "across the fire."[2]
  • Olive tree crete fact
    The olive tree of Vouves is one of the oldest olive trees in the world. It still produces olives to this day
  • One of the world's oldest olive trees, if not the oldest, is located on Crete. Called the Olive Tree of Vouves, it is estimated to be 4,000 years old.[4]
  • Crete is home to the waterfall village of Argyroupoli. Located inside a canyon, this unique village has natural water sources and waterfalls throughout.[10]
  • Crete's Elafonisi Beach is famous for pink-tinted sand and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters.[6]
  • Crete was the birthplace of Nikos Kazantzakis, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature 9 times. His most famous book is Zorba the Greek.[10]
  • Interesting Crete Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Interesting Crete Infographic

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