The largest island in the Greek archipelago. One of the largest islands in the Mediterranean - along with Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Cyprus. One of the most beautiful places on planet Earth. It is not a matter of tourist benefits at all. The point is in the island itself, where myths and real history are densely mixed, where every blade of grass, every stalk, making its way to the light through the stones, stretches to the bottomless blue sky, chanting life. Only in such a place could God be born.
And in fact, according to Hesiod and his "Theogony", he was born in Crete. Here, in the Dikteyskaya cave. Here the titanide Rhea, fleeing from her husband, the devourer of his own children, Kronos, brought the newborn Zeus. Here he grew up and matured, and after overthrowing Kronos, defeated the titans and reigned on Olympus. Having carried out excavations in the Dikteyskaya cave and found a rich "harvest" of antiquities, archaeologists concluded that the people of Zeus had been praising here without interruption for two millennia!
Crete is associated with two, one might say, fundamental Greek myths. Both of them are well known to you. The first is about the monster Minotaur, the hero of Theseus, who killed him, and the daughter of the Cretan king Minos Ariadne, whose guiding thread helped Theseus and the Athenian youth get out of the terrible Labyrinth built by the great architect and inventor Daedalus. The second is about Daedalus and his son Icarus, who tried to escape from Minos and fly to Sicily using homemade wings. The myth is a myth, but the sea between Crete and Sicily, where the unfortunate son of Daedalus fell, is called Ikarian.
And the legendary Minos, the son of Zeus and Europe, gave his name to the most ancient civilization in the history of Europe - the Minoan. A number of scientists argue that the Minoan civilization seemed to have passed the baton from Ancient Egypt to the future Ancient Greece. But communications between Crete and the mainland were weak at the time. Nevertheless, the flourishing of the Minoan civilization in Crete is undeniable. It is assumed that by the middle of the II millennium BC. e. the population of the island was one million people, and every tenth Minoan lived in the royal city of Knossos.
The catastrophe happened, from the point of view of a historian, at once. Previously, it was associated with the eruption of a volcano located on the neighboring island of Crete, Santorini. But refined research suggests that the two events do not coincide in timescale. Another interesting theory has been put forward - a climatic disaster caused by the natural phenomenon El Niño. Uncooled air streams from the Sahara poured onto the island, Crete experienced a prolonged drought that led to massive famine. A significant part of the Minoans died.
Weakened Crete was captured by the Achaeans. But the Minoan culture did not perish - having united with the continental Greek, it showed the world the Mycenaean culture, which had a great influence on the entire ancient Greek culture as a whole. The final decline of Crete as a cultural center took place only in the XII century. BC e., when the Dorians poured into the island. Perhaps the history of the decline and death of the Mycenaean civilization served as the basis for the myths recorded later by Plato in Atlantis.
The Minoan civilization crystallized on the basis of large cities that were created around the royal palaces, which played the role of political and cultural centers. And the first among them is, of course, the Palace of Knossos of the legendary Minos. Perhaps the person who created him was really called Daedalus. In any case, it was a genius of the level of Leonardo da Vinci. For the first time in the history of mankind, in the complex of the Knossos Palace, multi-storey buildings were built, along with natural, artificial lighting was organized, water supply and sewerage were installed, ventilation and heating were installed, roads were paved. All these ideas are still used by grateful humanity.
If you abandon the XXI century, from modern high-speed life, you can make an exciting journey through time - literally on foot. The transition from one era to another will be completely imperceptible. Just now, you were surrounded by magnificent buildings that remember the heyday of the Minoans - and now on the street of a medieval village, with traces of architecture and culture left by the Venetians and Muslims who owned the island. Literally around the bend, modern hotels shining with steel and glass sprout from cypress and olive trees boiling in the wind ...
They also know how to dance here, and these dances lead their genealogy from the ritual dances of the Labyrinth, performed in memory of Theseus' victory over the Minotaur. Two of these dances - sirtos and pidichtos - formed the basis of the famous Greek dance "Sirtaki", which is usually considered a folk dance. In fact, half a century ago, in 1964, when the film "The Greek Zorba" was being filmed, director Michael Kakoyanis needed a folk dance, which was to be performed by Anthony Quinn, who played the main character. The music was commissioned to create Mikis Theodorakis. He and Quinn handled the task brilliantly. "Glued" from sirtos and pidichtos "Sirtaki" has become one of the main symbols of Greece.
They also know how to celebrate weddings. Ancient customs have survived to this day. As before, young people need the consent of their parents, especially the father, before they get married. As before, the guests present the most important Cretan products for the wedding - wine, oil, meat and cheese. As before, young people dance at a wedding - first in the garden, then in the house. But before entering the house, the bride draws a cross at the entrance with honey, and then, together with the groom, breaks a pomegranate fruit. And let the newlyweds' life be sweet as honey, fruitful and abundant, like pomegranate seeds, strong like a ploughshare and calm like a lamb!