The history of Crete is age–long and should be traced back in the first myths and legends. According to the Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of gods and humans, was born in Crete, where later he secretly copulated with beautiful nymph Europe, who gave her name to our continent. It was here that for the first time resourceful craftsman Daedalus, the constructor of the famous Labyrinth, disregarded the law of gravity and flew away with his son Icarus.
Cretan mythology happens to have a unique beauty, an aesthetic wealth which has made it well-loved throughout the world. Cretan mythology is the deepest roots of the archaeological treasures that you will have the chance to admire at many museums and at archaeological sites in every corner of the island. Myths are strongly connected to the real findings on the island.
The birth of Zeus
Crete is the place where the greatest God of Greeks, Zeus, was born according to mythology. When Zeus was born, Rhea managed to trick his father, Cronus, who devoured all his children in order not to lose his throne, giving her husband a rock in swaddling clothes to swallow as a substitution to her infant. Zeus was raised secretly by the Nymphs and was fed by the goat nurse Amaltheia with milk and honey with the help of her broken-off horn.
According to Greek mythology, Europa was the beautiful daughter of King of Phoenicia, Agenor and sister of Cadmus (founder of Thebes). Once, while playing with her friends on the beach, Zeus saw her and fell in love with her.
Daedalus was a resourceful and very talented Athenian artist and inventor. Many people believe that he was a real person that was later mythified. He was exiled in Crete, where he helped Minos' wife, Pasiphae, have sex with the Poseidon's bull. The angry King Minos imprisoned him and his son, Icarus, in the Labyrinth. Then, they escaped by wearing artificial feathers and flying. During the flight, Icarus was killed.
Talos was the mythical guardian of Crete. He was an anthropomorphic giant automoton with copper body. He is regarded as the first robot in ancient mythology. Talos was the vigilant guardian of Crete, circling the island's shores three times daily, in order to protect it from enemies. Talos was killed by the Argonauts.
Every year at the end of May at Fragocastello, near Chora Sfakion, according to a local legend, strange shadows spring up into the ruins of the castle. These shadows, the legend says, are the souls of the soldiers that were killed in the battle of Frangocastello (1828). They are called Drosoulites and have become a mysterious legend, known to most Greeks.
Vritomartis or Vritamarpis was a goddess of Greek mythology, protector of fishermen, who was worshiped in Crete. Vritomartis was a young and beautiful girl from the ancient Gortys, or, according to another explanation, she was the daughter of Zeus and Karma coming from the ancient city of Tarra. Falling one day by accident at sea, she was saved by the fishermen's nets. When she died, she was was warshipped as godess as protector of the fishermen.
A harpy was one of the winged spirits best known for constantly stealing all food from Phineus. Harpies were depicted as winged women, sometimes with ugly faces, or with the lower bodies of bird and were messengers of Hades. Harpies were dispatched by the gods to snatch away babies and souls from the earth. These creatures were living in the Dictaean Cave, in Crete.