Information about Chania

Chania is the second largest city of Crete, the largest island in the Greek archipelago. Located along the north coast of the island, at the foot of the White Mountains, it was called Kydonia, which means quince, during the Minoan era. During Minoan times, the powers of nature were worshipped, the chief deity being a goddess. Signs of divine presence have been found, such as standing stones, birds alighting on pillars, the ceremonial double axe and horns of consecration.

   

Conquerors of Crete included the Arabs, the Venetians and the Turks. During the rule of the Arabs, Chania was called Al Hanim the Inn), and during the Second Byzantine Period the name was changed to Chania. At the crossroads of the three continents, Crete maintains a local cultural tradition influenced by both East and West, and was once known as the Venice of the East. The old town of Chania is surrounded by fifteenth century walls and at the entrance of the harbor lies the Firkas Fortress built in 1629 and a Venetian lighthouse.

The huge natural harbor of Souda is six kilometers away, and is the main gateway to the sea. Georgioupolis, named in honor of Prince George, the High Commissioner of Crete, is a costal town in front of the Armyros plain and was known in the past as Armyros (salty). The river Almyros runs through Georgioupolis to the sea.

 


 

THE DISC OF PHAISTOS

The disk of Phaistos was discovered in 1908 in southern Crete, and apparently dates from about ca.1700-1500BC. It was found by the Italian archaeologist, Luigi Pernier, in the treasure room of the ruins of the palace in Phaistos, on its side, oriented northwards, showing the face with the rosette at the center, amidst ash, charcoal and pottery shards.

It is a two-sided, circular clay tablet, imprinted on both sides, with symbols in a spiral pattern that have been named Linear A. The disk contains a total of 242 distinct symbols, broken into 61 groups. The disc is made of high quality clay, like that used for Minoan “egg-shell” cups. Both faces of the disc have a spiral line incised from the periphery to the centre, with a regularity of the spiral on side A, missing from side B. Many of the symbols are pictures of clearly recognizable objects, imprinted with stamps, however attempts to interpret them has not led to any obvious decipherment of the disk.

Archaeological evidence confirms that the hill, on which the palace of Phaistos stood, was occupied by humans before the Minoans settled in Crete during the early third millennium. Evidence suggests that the destruction that brought the Minoan Protopalatial period to an end around 1700 BC occurred due to an earthquake.

(Goddart L, The Phaistos Disc – The Enigma of an Aegean Script, Itanos Publications ISBN 960-7549-02-3) 

 


 

CRETAN FOLKLORE

 

CRETAN MUSIC

Cretan music has a character of its own and its roots are lost in the long history of the island. The richness of the songs reflects the depths of the Cretan spirit, full of energy, tenderness, love and humor. Cretan traditional music is very complex due to the fact that many civilizations, at various periods of time, have intruded and inhabited the island.

Cretan music is both wild and unpredictable, the main role being taken by the Lyra, the traditional three-stringed instrument made of mulberry wood, supported on the knee. It resembles a violin, but is played by grazing the strings with a fingernail and plays the main melody. A theme is repeated with an infinite number of variations and embellishments. The Laouto (a type of lute, double strung 4 or 6 double strings) and the Tambouras (bouzouki) serve as accompanying instruments.

Cretan songs may be divided into Mantinades and Rizitica, Satirical, Historical-narrative, and Love songs.

Mantinades: The most popular Cretan songs. They consist of simple but comprehensive couplets, with few words, accurate and pointed when in satirical mood, philosophical and deep at other times. They deal with all subjects: the love of life, the pain of death, gallantry, love, and form a genuine folk creation.

Rizitika: These are songs from the region of the White Mountains (their name comes from the word rizes which means roots.) Nobody knows when or how they took their present form. There are usually 15 syllables that do not rhyme, with themes such as heroic, romantic, historic, etc. They are divided into Tavla songs sung at the table during a meal, and Strata songs sung while traveling.

 

CRETAN DANCES

Kastrinos (or Maleviziotis) - A  dance from the Heraklion region, characterized by its fast rhythm and small steps.

Pentozalis - This  dance is performed all over Crete. As its name implies, there are five steps. It is a quick and energetic dance.

Sousta - Although this, too, is  danced all over Crete, it is basically a dance from Rethymnon. One school of thought is that it is derived from the martial Phyrric dance of the ancient Greeks. It is danced by men and women in couples and demands suppleness and grace, skill and imagination

Syrtos or Chaniotikos - This is a dance with small, regular, rhythmical steps and the leading dancer has an opportunity to carry out spectacular steps

 

CRETAN NIGHT - THURSDAY 2nd of OCTOBER 2014

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