Postcards from Crete, Part I

Crete, Greece’s largest island, is full of historical, cultural, and culinary treasures just waiting to be discovered.

Rethymnon, Crete (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
National costume (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

Centuries of trade, occupation, and warfare have shaped its distinct identity. This is apparent in the unique blend of architecture present on Crete: Minoan temples, Homeric settlements, Turkish minarets, Venetian lighthouses. As power shifted, buildings were ingeniously repurposed: a Greek orthodox church might be converted to a mosque during the rule of the Turks, only to be re-converted to a church when it was reclaimed by the Greeks.

Mosque, Rethymnon (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Church of Agios Nikolaos, Chania (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Venetian lighthouse, Chania (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

This melting pot of cultures is also apparent in Cretan cuisine, unique and separate from “mainland” Greek food. From the barley rusk dakos to the boubouristi with olive oil and rosemary to the ubiquitous raki, strong Cretan flavours are a delight for the palate.

Graviera cheese and Cretan honey (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Calamari and boubouristi (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

And then, of course, there is Crete’s natural beauty. Harrowing mountain gorges, dramatic rocky coastline, pristine sand beaches, and tranquil lemon and olive groves all lend themselves to breathtaking scenery. There simply aren’t enough words in the English language to convey the depth of variation in the shades of blue in the water either; gazing at the sea is like staring into a box of dazzling jewels, all different in their colouring and sheen.

Elafonisi beach, Crete (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Venetian lighthouse, Rethymnon (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Chania Harbour (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

Crete is enchanting, inspiring, and altogether magical.

La Fortezza, Rethymnon (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)
Lemon tree (photo credit: canuckrunningamuck)

Have you been to Crete before? I’d love to hear your thoughts- send me a message or leave a comment!

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