History of Crete

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Modern History - Crete

The period from the 20th century onwards can be characterised as the modern history of Crete. Crete finally broke free from the grip of foreign powers and became part of the independent Kingdom of Greece in 1913. Unfortunately, it was not spared the fighting of the Second World War. Today, Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations with excellent tourist facilities, many beautiful historical monuments and a distinctive Cretan culture.

National liberation efforts and a free Crete

The harsh period of Turkish occupation, which began in 1669, brought with it economic and social decline. The Turkish population on the island is promoting the Islamic faith, with some existing buildings being converted into mosques and new ones being built. Unfortunately, many fortresses have also been destroyed in the process.

As a result of the constant pressure and harsh repression, there have been many uprisings and revolts by the indigenous Cretan population, but without much success for a long time. It was not until 1896 that the Greeks occupied the island and Crete sought to join the Kingdom of Greece. However, the European powers have resisted this for the time being, mainly for political reasons, probably trying to weaken Turkey as much as possible. However, bloody fighting across the island, including terrorist attacks, eventually forced the powers to react, and in 1913 Crete officially became part of Greece.

The Muslim population then began to forcibly leave Crete. In 1922, the Greco-Turkish War was still going on and the Treaty of Lausanne was to be the basis for a mutual exchange of population between Greece and Turkey. It is reported that during the 1920s, some 25,000 Turkish citizens specifically had to leave Crete (although many of them were already rather Islamised Cretans).

Crete finally stood on its own two feet and enjoyed a period of prosperity, especially in agriculture and trade. The island's prosperity came to a halt in 1941 and the Second World War.

World War II

After the conquest of mainland Greece, the Nazis turned their attention to Crete, and in 1941 Crete was occupied by German paratroopers, who concentrated mainly on strategic locations such as airfields and harbours. After several days of bloody fighting between Germany and the Allies, Germany eventually won, although even the German paratroopers suffered heavy losses and A. Hitler forbade further such large-scale paratrooping operations for the rest of the war.

In 1944, the Allies managed to regain Crete, but there were heavy casualties and considerable damage to property and infrastructure as the island was bombed. After the end of the Second World War, the situation on the island has calmed down again and Crete is experiencing the greatest development, especially in the fields of agriculture, trade, industry and, of course, tourism.

Greek island of Crete today

Crete has undergone a long evolution that has included periods of prosperity and growth, and unfortunately also periods of decline and hardship. The island has been affected by several natural disasters (mainly earthquakes) and especially afterwards by a very long period of occupation by foreign nations and countries. But all of this has shaped the face of the island today. Fortunately, despite these darker periods, a large number of historical, cultural and natural monuments have survived.

Today, Crete is an integral part of the whole of Greece and the largest and most populous Greek island. Since the 1970s, tourism has become increasingly important, but agriculture and industry have also continued to receive attention. When one says 'Crete' today, most of us think of a very popular holiday destination.

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