People and Culture

Culture and Society

"Crete's mystery is extremely deep. Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force branching warmly and beneficently through his veins, senses his soul begin to grow."
from 'Letter to El Greco' by Nikos Kazantzakis

The story of Cretan culture began more than 8.000 years ago when the first settlers arrived on the island, probably from Anatolia and North Africa. The long lasting rich history and the dramatic influences of social transitions, immigration and emigration, trade and alliances, occupation by foreign powers and eventual liberation are all reflected in the Cretan culture and traditions of today.

But of course Crete is not a quaint open-air museum! It is a modern European society with an ever increasing number of people moving out of the villages to live in the major towns, increased living standards and levels of education.

And tourism has made its significant mark on the island. During the last decades some of the former villages along the north coast have turned into huge resorts catering for the more than two million tourists or so that visit every year. But its an intriguing place to be all the same.

It is a big - and a small island - at the same time. The mountains divide the island and make it appear much larger than it really is. It's not that quickly traversed as one might think. On the other hand, the hustle of the city life and the tourist areas can be replaced with the tranquility of the small mountain village literally in a matter of minutes. Just by going a few kilometers away from the major centers.

And crossing the contrast between town and village are customs, habits and ways of life that are as much an integral part of 'modern' as 'traditional' Crete. To mention but a few things, Crete has a vibrant musical tradition and the Orthodox church is still a major social institution everywhere. And definitely, you can meet the famous Cretan hospitality in the town as well as in the village.

We have divided our presentation of the Cretan culture and society into various subcategories which you can access by means of the menu.

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