Monuments of Cretan Tradition

Architecture

Major cities of Crete are home to impressive architectural structures, mainly from the Venetian and the Ottoman Era. Forts, scenic harbors, palaces, fountains and temples are the main attractions of the cities. On the other hand, the interesting attractions in the hinterland include arched bridges, water and wind mills, aqueducts, cisterns and chapels.

Venetian and Ottoman architectural patterns, combined with features of folklore architecture, are evident in contemporary houses. Arched gates since the Venetian era, and sahnisi (protruding covered balcony) since the Ottoman era, are some of the features used even today.

The traditional rural house is an evolution of the prehistoric home dwelling; it is constructed with stone, branches and soil, while wooden beams support the roof. To the interior, there is space for animals, while the main features include a stone-built wine press covered by with a wooden platform, a fireplace for cooking and heating, and some niches in the walls for storing household utensils.

Some of the most interesting traditional buildings, perfectly adapted to the needs and particularities of the mountainous areas of Crete, are mitata. They are round domed buildings, made solely of dry stone, being an evolution of the domed Minoan tombs. Mitata provided shelter to shepherds and were used for milking goats and cheese-making. They are met in all ranges of Crete, but Nida plateau by Anogia is the most famous place to come across such constructions.

Windmills and Watermills
In western Crete, where rainfalls are quite frequent, water mills were used for grinding grain. However, in drier Eastern Crete residents used the wind for their needs. Indeed, many clusters of windmills, called milotopi, are met in most places, especially at northern Mirabelo. The windmills of Ambelos at Lassithi Plateau form the largest milotopi in Greece. Apart from grinding grain, the need for pumping water to irrigate crops at the plateaus of Lassithi and Ziros inspired the construction...
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Bridges and aqueducts
Although Crete is not renowned for its large rivers, it still mpresses with some of the most beautiful stone bridges in Greece. The most famous is the arched bridge near Beach Preveli, while of very great archaeological importance are the ancient bridges of Eleftherna and the Hellenic Bridge of Apokoronas. Similarly, important projects are the Venetian aqueducts, which transfered water across rivers to the towns.
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Wells - Fountains - Cisterns
In areas of Crete, where the lack of springs makes water difficult to find, the people built cisterns to store rainwater or wells to find underground water. Many of these are worth mentioning as they are architectural ornaments. Similarly, in many areas we meet elaborate fountains, which quenched passer's thirst or were used for washing clothes etc.  
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Abandoned Settlements
Crete is dispersed with settlements that were once abandoned because of urbanization or for some other reason, such vendettas, natural disasters, etc. Even today the walls of houses testify that life once existed there. It is interesting to refer to some of them.  
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Mitata
Mitato (plural: mitata) is a vaulted stone building of the Cretan mountains met mainly in Psiloritis Mount and the White Mountains. The mitata have their ancestral roots in Minoan times, as almost in the same way (ekforic building system) the Minoan vaulted graves were built. The artful construction of mitato, built only of stones without using binder, was the best solution in the bare rocky mountains of Crete. This is indicated by the fact that after so many centuries, even today...
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