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Crete is the largest island of Greece, placed in the southern side of the Aegean Sea and the fifth-biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea. A standout amongst the most famous destinations of the nation, as per its rich culture, holidays in Crete are the fantasy of a lifetime for a great many sightseers. However, despite its blossoming tourism, the island was fruitful in keeping its unique charm intact. Its great history has left obvious marks on the Greek island: Minoan palaces, Venetian towns, Medieval Castles, Ottoman mosques and Byzantine religious communities being the most important landmarks. But by far its most distinguishing trait are the beaches, alluring to sightseers around the world.
Crete was once deemed the cradle of the Minoan civilization (circa 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer's Odyssey. There is a large number of archaeological sites which include the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, and the diverse archaeology of the island of Koufonisi which includes Minoan, Roman, and World War II ruins. Blessed with a large number of museums, Crete will surely send you back on a journey to its glorious past. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum displays most of the archaeological remains of the Minoan era and delights many tourists each year.
Due to its impressive size, the island of Crete is divided in four administrational regions. The northern coasts of Crete are more developed in tourism, while the southern coasts keep a more secluded environment, ensuring you and your family a wide variety of holiday activities. The beautifully preserved Cretan villages have ancient roots that go back in history. The largest towns, including Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion, are found in the northern coasts of the island. Although they were originally founded in the ancient times, these towns mostly blossomed during and after the Venetian times, as such their architecture has very clear Venetian and Ottoman features -castles, towers, stone bridges, churches and mosques. Other villages located up in the mountains have a unique architecture with stone houses, red-tiled roofs, narrow streets, flowered gardens and an always present charming square with a church in their center.
The shorelines of Crete island are world well known for their crystal water and the unwinding, carefree air. Regardless of which part of the island you are choosing to dock in, you will positively discover the best beaches for your occasion. Organized or untouched by man, accessible or needing further exploration, sandy or pebbled, all of Crete's beaches have something unique about them. Profoundly touching will be the trips to Balos, Elafonissi, Falassarna, Preveli, Matala and Vai, where you will be astonished by the natural magnificence and the extraordinary water of these beaches.
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