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About Crete

Crete general information:

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands (8,336 km²) and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Crete is about 260 km long and 60 km wide, with a population of approximately 600,000. To the north it broaches the Sea of Crete and to the south the Libyan sea. Crete consists of four prefectures: Chania, Rethimnon, Heraklion and Lasithi.

Crete is extremely mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from West to East ( Lefka Ori, Psiloritis, Dikti mountains, Kedros, Thripti).These mountains gifted Crete with fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi, Omalos and Nidha ; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion ; and gorges such as the famous Samaria. Crete is the home of the wild goat Kri-Kri and a refuge for the vulture Lammergeier.

Crete is a location of significant ancient history and a popular tourist destination; its attractions include the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, the Venetian castle at Rethymnon, and the Samaria Gorge, as well as many other natural sites. Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilization (2600-1400 BC).

If there was a beauty contest for Greek islands, Crete would surely be among the favorites.

Tourism

Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece; 15% of all arrivals in Greece come through the city of Heraklion (port and airport). Overall, more than two million tourists visited Crete last year. Today, the island's tourism infrastructure caters to all tastes, including a very wide range of accommodation; big hotels but also smaller family-owned apartments. Visitors reach the island via two international airports in Heraklion and Chania, or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimnon and Agios Nikolaos . It is very convenient and easy to visit Crete with a rental car. Crete has a warm Mediterranean climate. Summers in the lowlands, are hot and dry with clear skies. Dry hot days are often relieved by a system of seasonal breezes. The mountain areas are much cooler, with considerable rain. Winters are mild in the lowlands with rare frost and snow.

Crete History:

The first human settlements on the island, dating to the aceramic Neolithic, were growing cereals and had cattle. Ancient Knossos was the site of one of these major Neolithic (then later Minoan) sites .Crete has been the center of Europe´s most ancient civilization; the Minoan. Little is known about the rise of ancient Cretan society. This contrasts with the superb houses, palaces, roads, paintings and sculptures that do remain. Early Cretan history is replete with legends such as those of King Minos, Theseus, Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus passed on orally via poets such as Homer. Crete initially repelled an attack by Rome in 71 BC but was finally conquered in 69 BC, earning the title "Creticus". This word comes from the oroginal word "Kourites", which means the place that borns nice men, donot forget Kouroi are named the ancient Greek men marble statues. So Kourites became Kouriti-Kriti-=Crete. Gortyn was made capital of the island and Crete became a Roman province.

Crete was under Byzantine empire´s control when it fell into the hands of Iberian who established an emirate on the island. In 960 Nicephorus Phocas reconquered the island and held it under Byzantine control. Then, in 1204, it fell into the hands of the Venetians at the time of the Fourth Crusade. During Venice's rule, Renaissance swept through the island as one can see from the plethora of artistic works dating to that period. The most notable fruits of the Cretan renaissance were El Greco and Vitsentzos Kornaros.

In 1669 after a 21-year siege Candia fell to the Ottoman empire. Cretan participation in the Greek War of Independance was extensive. Uprising by Christians were met with fierce response from the Ottoman authorities. Between 1821 and 1828, the island was the scene of repeated hostilities. Crete eventually was left out to the modern Greek state by the London Protocol of 1830, and soon it was yielded to Egypt by the Ottoman sultan. But sovereignty was returned to the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of London in 1840.

Eventually, in 1898, Crete became a complex autonomus state under Ottoman suzerainty and with a Greek High Commissioner. During these years Cretan volunteers played an important role in the Greek struggle for Macedonia. Finally, Crete joined Greece on 1st December 1913. Muslim presence in the island started with the Arab but was cemented by the Ottoman conquest. Many natives, being initially Christians and sharing a Greek culture, converted to Islam, thus regarded by the rest as Turks. On the eve of the Greek War of Independence many among them converted back to Christianity.

During World War II, the island of Crete was the scene of the famous Battle of Crete where in May 1941, German paratroopers met fierce resistance by the locals and the British Commonwealth force, subsequently forcing Hitler to forbade further large scale airborne operations during the war.

Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete. It is also the fifth largest city in Greece. For centuries it was known as Candia, a Venetian adaptation of the earlier Greek name. During the Arab occupation it was called "Handakas".

Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion Prefecture, with an international airport named after the writer Nikos Kazantzakis. The ruins of Knossos, which were excavated and restored by Arthur Evans, are nearby. The archaeological museum located in Freedom square, center of Heraklion city. The Histotric museum located in Sofoklis Venizelos street is nearby too. The Physical History museum is by Sofoklis Venizelos treet-PORT road too. Heraklion generally is a city which is a Great start for driving all around the beautiful island places. It is the place all unique visitors choose to stay their first nights on Crete!

Chania is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania Prefecture. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km west of Rethymnon and 145 km west of Heraklion . With 4,248.1 inhabitants/km², the municipality is the most densely populated outside the Athens and Thessaloniki metropolitan areas. The city of Chania can be divided in two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one. The old town is situated next to the old harbour and is the matrix around which the whole urban area was developed. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications that started to be built in 1538; of them the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is continuous with the new, and from the north the physical border is the sea. The centre of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south.

Agios Nikolaos (or Aghios Nikolaos, Greek: ¢γιος Νικüλαος) is a coastal town on the Greek island of Crete, lying east of the island's capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia. In the year 2000, the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, which takes in part of the surrounding villages, claimed around 19,000 inhabitants. The town is the capital of the nomos (province) of Lasithi, and sits partially upon the ruins of the ancient city of Lato pros Kamara.

Rethymno (Greek: ΡÝθυμνο, pronounced [ˈreθimno], also Rethimno, Rethymnon, Réthymnon, and Rhíthymnos), a city of approximately 40,000 people, is the capital of Rethymno Prefecture in the island of Crete. It was built in antiquity (ancient Rhithymna and Arsinoe), even though it has never been a competitive Minoan center. It was, however, strong enough to mint its own coins and maintain a mild urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town with two dolphins in a circle.

Rethymno started growing again when the Venetian conquerors of the island wanted to have an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania acquiring its own bishop and nobility. Today's old town (palia poli) is almost entirely built by Venetians. It is one of the best preserved old towns in Crete.

The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, small Venetian harbor and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia today houses the information office of the ministry of culture. The big municipal gardens are ideal for those in search of shade and tranquility. Throughout the year various activities are organized which draw a large crowd. The Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival is held on 7-8th of November, in memory of the destruction of Arkadi Monastery.

The old Venetian port of Rethymnon.

It has a Venetian castle called the Fortetza which is the one of the biggest and best standing castles in Crete. Other monuments include the Neratze mosque (St. Katherine's Catholic Church), the Great Gate (megali porta, Porta Guerra), the Piazza Rimondi (Rimmondi square), the Venetian Loggia etc. Today its main income is tourism, with large Facilities that have been built the past 20 years and Agriculture especially, for its olive oil and Mediterranean products. It is also the base of the Philosophical School and the University Library of the University of Crete and the School of Social and Political Sciences having 8,000 students every year on its University Campus at "Galos" and where the Academic Institute of Mediterranean Studies is situated.

Lasithi (Greek: Λασßθι) is the easternmost prefecture on the island of Crete, to the east of the prefecture of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra, Sitia and Neapoli. The mountains include the Dikte to the west and the Sitia Mountains to the east. The Sea of Crete lies to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south.

To the east of the village of Elounda lies the island of Spinalonga, formerly a Venetian fortress and a leper colony. On the foot of Mount Dikti lies the Lasithi Plateau, famous for its windmills. Vai is well-known for its datepalm forest.

Thanks to stunning beaches and its mild climate year-long, Lasithi attracts many tourists. Mass tourism is served by places like Vai, Agios Nikolaos and the island of Chrissi. More off-beat tourism can be found in villages on the south coast like Myrtos, Makrys Gialos or Makrigialos, Xerokambos and Koutsouras.

The prefecture is home to a number of ancient remains. Vasiliki, Fournu Korfi, Pyrgos, Zakros and Gournia are ruins of Minoan date, Lato and Itanos were Doric towns.

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Car Rental in Crete , Crete is an island ...and is ideal for renting a car ,

Crete is the biggest Greek island(8.260square km)and the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean,lies across the southern part of the Aegean sea.

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Explore the beauties of the island, The place Zorbas was born, Hire cars to drive in The south Coast.

Make a choise of short or long daily Trips in Crete.

Hire a car and drive up to Psiloritis mountain, Omalos mountains.

Its terrain is mountinous and it is traversed by three large mountain ranges with peaks reaching something in the region of 2.500meters.

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Crete has also quite a few plateaux which are formed between the mountain tops,with fertile soil,plenty of water and rich cultivation.There are only a few rivers and it has only one small lakein the province of Apokoronou.

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For the most memorable stay in Crete we will show you where to find the famous tourist attractions, the small typical villages, the most beautiful views, the quiet beaches, the hottest nightlife, the good food, the nicest walks or whatever your wishes are...

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Special Offers on Accommodation in Crete. . Discover the unique beauties of Crete by renting one of our vehicles to unique, attractive prices! Get your "All-Included" car rental quote with NO EXTRA CHARGES, NO HIDDEN EXTRAS. Book your car before coming to Crete and take advantage of our prices. We offer the most competitive rates and the highest quality of car and bikes rental services in Crete.

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CRETE CAR HIRE is able to keep the costs down because you complete the booking procedure by yourself. CRETE Car is a fast growing Greek Car Rental company. Founded in Crete and operating one of the biggest local car rentals on the island, now counting with more than 250 cars , we created CRETECARS.gr , offering our services to all tourist destinations in Greece. Due to our high standards and reliable service we have become one of the top Rent a Car AGENCIES in Greece.

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The Greek language spoken on the island has a distinct Cretan Greek dialect with an extended vocabulary that is Crete-specific. Cretan wine and tsikoudia, a potent distillate, are the traditional drinks. Crete has its own distinctive Mantinades poetry. The island is known for its Mantinades-based music (typically performed with the Cretan lyra and the laouto) and has many indigenous dances, the most noted of which is probably the Pentozali. Cretan authors have made important contributions to Greek Literature throughout the modern period; major names include Vikentios Kornaros, creator of the 17th century epic romance Erotokritos (Greek Ερωτόκριτος), and in the 20th century Nikos Kazantzakis. In the Renaissance, Crete was the home of the Cretan School of icon painting, which influenced El Greco and through him subsequent European painting.

Cretans are fiercely proud of their island and customs, and men often don elements of their traditional dress in everyday life: knee-high black riding boots, black shirts and black headdress consisting of a fishnet-weave kerchief worn wrapped around the head or draped on the shoulders. Black is the color of mourning, and since Cretan families are notionally considered so extended as to include greatgrandparents or second cousins (although they may have little actual contact) as well as all their respective in-laws, one is theoretically justified to be in continuous mourning for some relative or other, however distant. On festive occasions those who are not in mourning wear white.

Economy

The economy of Crete, which was mainly based on farming, and fishing, began to change visibly during the 1970s. While an emphasis remains on farming and stock breeding, due to the climate and terrain of the island, there has been a drop in manufacturing and an observable expansion in its service industries (mainly tourism-related). All three sectors of the Cretan economy (agriculture, processing-packaging, services), are directly connected and interdependent. The island has a per capita income close to 100% of the Greek average, while unemployment is at approximately 4%, ½ of that of the country overall. As in other regions of Greece, olive growing is also a significant industry; a small amount of citrons are still cultivated on the island.

The island has three significant airports, Nikos Kazantzakis at Heraklion, the Daskalogiannis airport at Chania and a smaller one in Sitia. The first two serve international routes, as the main gateways to the island for travellers.

Tourism

Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Fifteen percent of all arrivals in Greece come through the city of Heraklion (port and airport), while charter journeys to Heraklion last year made up 20% of all charter flights in Greece. Overall, more than two million tourists visited Crete last year, and this increase in tourism is reflected on the number of hotel beds, rising by 53% in the period between 1986 and 1991, when the rest of Greece saw increases of only 25%. Today, the island's tourism infrastructure caters to all tastes, including a very wide range of accommodation; the island's facilities take in large luxury hotels with their complete facilities, swimming pools, sports and recreation, smaller family-owned apartments, camping facilities and others. Visitors reach the island via two international airports in Heraklion and Chania, or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimno and Agios Nikolaos. Popular tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the Venetian old city and port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, the gorge of Samaria, the islands of Chrysi, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, and Spinalonga.

Archaeological sites

here are 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 Koufonisi, Crete which includes Minoan, Roman and World War II ruins.

Enviromentally protected areas

There are a number of environmentally protected areas. One such area is located at the island of Elafonisi on the coast of southwestern Crete. Also, the palm forest of Vai and the Dionysades islands, close to the coast of northwestern Crete, have diverse animal and plant life. Vai has a palm beach and the largest natural palm forest in Europe. The island of Chrysi, 15 km south of Ierapetra, has the largest naturally grown Lebanon Cedar forest in Europe.

Development

Newspapers have reported that the Ministry of Mercantile Marine is ready to support the agreement between Greece, South Korea, Dubai Ports World and China for the construction of a large international container port and free trade zone in southern Crete near Tympaki; the plan is to expropriate 850 ha of land. The port would handle 2 million containers per year, while as of 2007, there has been no official announcement of a project not universally welcomed due to its environmental, economic and cultural impact.[1] As of January 2009, it appears the project has been canceled, in part due to the strong opposition from the local population, mostly on environmental grounds.[2]

Crete-immigration-Holiday homes

Crete's mild climate attracts interest from northern Europeans who want a holiday home or residence on the island. EU citizens have the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality.[3] A growing number of real estate companies cater to mainly British expatriates, followed by German, Dutch, Scandinavian and other European nationalities wishing to own a home in Crete. The British expatriates are concentrated in the western prefectures of Chania and Rethymno and to a lesser extent in Heraklion and Lasithi.

Neolithic settlement

The first human settlements on the island, dating to the aceramic Neolithic, used cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs as well as domesticated cereals and legumes; ancient Knossos was the site of one of these major Neolithic (then later Minoan) sites.[4]

Minoan civilization

Crete was the center of Europe's first advanced civilization, the Minoan (c. 2700-1420 BC).[5] This civilization wrote in the undeciphered script known as Linear A. Early Cretan history is replete with legends such as those of King Minos, Theseus, Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus passed on orally via poets such as Homer. Beginning in 1420 BC, the Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenean civilization from mainland Greece. The oldest samples of writing in the Greek language is the Linear B archive from Knossos, dated approximately to 1425-1375 BC.[6]

Mythology

Crete has a rich mythology mostly connected with the ancient Greek Gods but also connected with the Minoan civilization. The labyrinth of the palace of Knossos has the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur where the Minotaur was slayed by Theseus. The Paximadia islands are believed to be the birthplace of the goddess Artemis and the god Apollo. Their mother, the goddess Leto, was worshipped at Phaistos. Europa and Zeus made love at Gortys and conceived the Kings of the Minoan civilization. King Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The goddess Athena bathed in Lake Voulismeni. The ancient Greek god Zeus launched a lightning bolt at a giant lizard that was threatening Crete. The lizard immediately turned to stone and became the island of Dia. The island can be seen from Knossos and it has the shape of a giant lizard. The islets of Lefkai were the result of a musical contest between the Sirens and the Muses. After losing the contest the Sirens were so distraught that their wings fell off, turned white, and fell into the sea at Souda Bay where they formed the islets.

Music of Crete- local instruments and the ancient instrument-Cretan Lyra

The music of Crete is a traditional form of Greek folk music called κρητικά (kritika). The lyra is the dominant folk instrument on the island; there are three-stringed and four-stringed versions of this bowed string instrument, closely related to the medieval Byzantine lyra. It is often accompanied by the Cretan lute (laoúto), which is similar to both an oud and a mandolin. Thanassis Skordalos and Kostas Moundakis are the most renowned players of the lyra.

The earliest documented music on Crete comes from Ancient Greece. Cretan music like most traditional Greek began as product of ancient, Byzantine, western and eastern inspirations. The main instrument lyra, is closely related to the bowed Byzantine lyra. The Persian geographer Ibn Khordadbeh (d. 911) of the 9th Century, in his lexicographical discussion of instruments, cited the Byzantine lyra (Greek: λύρα - lūrā), as similar to the Arabic rebab and a typical Byzantine instrument along with the urghun (organ), shilyani (probably a type of harp or lyre) and the salandj [1]. Bowed instruments descendants of the Byzantine bowed lyra (lūrā) have continued to be played in post-Byzantine regions until the present day with few changes, for example the Calabrian Lira in Italy, the Cretan Lyra, the Gadulka in Bulgaria, and the Armudî kemençe (or πολίτικη λύρα) in Istanbul, Turkey.

Following the Crusades, however, the Franks, Venetians and Genoese dominated the island and introduced new instruments and genres and in particular the three-stringed lira da braccio. By the end of the 14th century, a poetic form called mantinada became popular; it was a rhyming couplet of fifteen syllables. The introduction of the violin by the end of 17th century was especially important.

Some of the earliest popular music stars from Crete were Andreas Rodinos, Yiannis Bernidakis (Baxevanis), Stelios Koutsourelis, Stelios Foustalieris, Efstratios Kalogeridis, Kostas Papadakis, Michalis Kounelis, Kostas Mountakis and Thanassis Skordalos. Later, in the 1960s, musicians like Nikos Xylouris and Yiannis Markopoulos combined Cretan folk music with classical techniques. For the above choices, Nikos Xylouris received the negative criticism of conservative fans of the Cretan music but he remained popular, as did similarly-styled performers like Charalambos Garganourakis and Vasilis Skoulas. Nowadays, prominent performers include Antonis Xylouris or Psarantonis, Giorgis Xylouris, Ross Daly, Stelios Petrakis, Vasilis Stavrakakis, the group Chainides, Zacharias Spyridakis, Michalis Stavrakakis, Mitsos Stavrakakis, Dimitrios Vakakis, Georgios Tsantakis, Michalis Tzouganakis, Elias Horeftakis, Giannis Charoulis, etc.

As Magrini (1997) has argued, modern marketing of Cretan music has concentrated on the lyra as the most distinctive Cretan instrument, to the extent that other instruments are seldom heard. This includes the violin, as well as the bagpipes [askomadoura].

source: www.wikipedia.org

 
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