The island of Crete was home to Europe's earliest civilization. Since the time of the Minoans, 4000 years ago, it has served as a crossroads where the Eastern and Western worlds have met and exchanged skills and ideas, materials and artefacts. At Knossos, with its gigantic palace complex where the legendary Minos was king and where Theseus slew the Minotaur, we find one of the world's wondrous historical sites. From successive waves of rulers - the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Empires of Byzantium, Venice and Ottomans - Crete has aquired layered strata of history unlike any other land. It is this heritage - as well as the astonishing natural beauty of the place - that has drawn visitors from around the world. Their writings are collected in this illustrated book, which is the first of three works together spanning the great island from east to west.