The history of Crete

The ancient Cretan civilization was given the name Minoan by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who began to excavate its remains in 1900. He believed that this civilization lay behind the Greek myth of Minos, son of Zeus and Europa. Minos was the king of Crete and kept a bull-headed monster, the Minotaur, prisoner in a Labyrinth.

6500 BC
First settlement on Crete, initially in caves, then in houses of quarried stone with wooden roofs.

2600 BC
Development of agriculture. Introduction of bronze tools. Building of vaulted (chambered) tombs.

1900 BC
Old Palace Period. Concentration of power in a few palaces. Building of the palaces at Knossos, Mallia, Phaistos and Zakros. Beginning of Minoan naval supremacy: colonies on Melos, Kythera, and in Asia Minor.

1700 BC
New Palace Period. The golden age of Crete. Concentration of power and life in the palaces. Important sea trade. Trading stations on the African coast, in Asia Minor and on the Aegean islands.

1500 BC
The volcanic eruption of Santorini changed the way of life in the whole Mediterranean area. An erupted mass, the surface area of which would have been equivalent to around 83 km2 of the island, was hurled - it has been suggested - to a height of 30,000 metres in the air. Deposits of volcanic ash can still be identified today over a region 700 km in length, with an area of more than 300,000 sq km. The volcanic eruption of Santorini was one of the worst of all time.

1450 BC
Destruction of the palaces and noble villas. A definite link with the Santorini eruption has not been proven to date. Only the Palace of Knossos remained partially intact. Beginning of the takeover of power by the Mycenaeans. The Palace of Knossos was rebuilt. The Mycenaeans live peacefully with the indigenous Minoans on the island.

1200 BC
Unrest and destruction throughout the whole of the Mediterranean. End of the advanced culture of Crete.

900 BC
Greek-speaking Dorians arrive. New city-states are formed.

67 BC
The Romans invade Crete. Gortys becomes the capital of the province of Crete.

395 AD
The province of Crete becomes part of the Eastern Roman Empire.

823-961 AD
Occupation by the Arabs. Finally, the Arabs are driven out by the Byzantines.

The Byzantine period leaves behind numerous (architectural) monuments on Crete

Occupation by the Venetians. Crete becomes Candia with a capital of the same name (modern Heraklion). The Cretans constantly offer resistance, in a series of revolts.

1645 - 1898
Occupation by the Turks. Numerous rebellions take place on Crete during the Greek War of Independence. Crete remains in Turkish hands despite the creation of a free Greek State.

Foundation of the Cretan State, with Chania as its capital

Union of Crete with Greece

War with Turkey. At the end of it, Greeks from Asia Minor settle on Crete and 22,000 Turks have to flee Crete.

1941 German parachutists land at Maleme on Crete. This is a campaign with very heavy losses for the Germans, with numerous atrocities against the Cretan population in retribution for attacks by the Resistance.

1967 - 1974
Military dictatorship on Crete

Heraklion replaces Chania as the new capital of Crete.

Greece becomes a full member of the European Community.