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Cultural Traces Around the World

Crete: Jewel of the Mediterranean Sea

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Located in the Mediterranean Sea, about 160 kilometers south of the Greek mainland, Crete is endowed with mild temperatures, beautiful natural attractions, and an ancient history and culture. Its land mass is made up of varied terrain, ranging from fine-sand beaches at Elafonisi to the White Mountains. Mount Ida is the tallest peak in this range, and is home to the Ideon Cave, the birthplace of Zeus, according to Greek mythology. Crete consists of four regional units: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi. Two key landmarks in the capital city of Heraklion are the important Cretan monuments, the Knossos Palace built around 2,000 BC, home of King Minos and his mythical Labyrinth and the Phaistos Palace, built around 1,700 BC above the ruins of an older palace. The Old Town is known for its fairytale atmosphere, featuring the Koules Fortress and ancient defensive wall. The region of Chania on the western side of Crete, which contains the impressive White Mountains (“Lefka Ori” in Greek), has Samariá Gorge National Park occupying the largest part of its area and is home to the precious Cretan Wild Goat. Located between the White Mountains and Mount Psiloritis (also called “Ida”) is Crete’s smallest prefecture, Rethymno, which features gorgeous mountainscape, marvelous beaches, legendary caves, historic monasteries and monuments, traditional mountain villages, and mesmerizing Cretan lyra music. The Lasithi region is less mountainous and is located in the easternmost section of Crete. Key features of the region are the fabled palm tree forest of Vaï, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lassithi, beaches with crystalline water, and beautiful cities. Cretans are nature lovers, so the island has many areas that are environmentally protected to preserve habitats and landscape diversity. Due to its amazing scenery, history, legends, local art and culture, Crete will impress you with its endless charms. We pray that the island will continue to develop and prosper in peace and harmony in God’s loving grace.
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