South Crete is known for its many historic sites. However, the environment is a result of the long history of cultivation by its inhabitants. Some cultures have left their mark stronger in this area than others. This has resulted in a number of historical monuments from various eras. It is known that there are proofs of civilization on Crete from 6500 BC. Especially under Minos, the son of Zeus and Europa, one of his concubines, Crete came to full bloom. This was around 2600 BC. The cities of Knossos, Phaistos, Gortys and Agia Triada are a vivid proof. The remaining artifacts show a rich history.
But then several natural disasters followed each other and in the course of centuries much was destroyed and rebuilt. There are practically no remains found from the first Byzantine and Arab rule. But the second Byzantine and Venetian overlords left many monasteries, churches and chapels on the island. Many of these monasteries are still inhabited by a few monks or nuns, and are often open some hours of the day to the public. The many chapels in villages across the south of the island have somewhat neglected, but certainly beautiful icons.
Even in mythology this part of Crete plays a great role. Zeus was born and raised by his mother Rhea. His father was the titan Kronos which had devoured the earlier five children born from his marriage to Rhea out of fear that they would one day overrule him. Rhea therefore kept her sixth child, Zeus, hidden in a cave in the Ida (also known as Idi or Psiloritis) mountain, which is called the backbone of Crete. Later Zeus left the island, overthrew Kronos and ruled as father of the gods on Mount Ólympos.