LIMITED WATER RESOURCES IN CRETE, DUE TO ITS GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION, FORCED ITS INHABITANTS TO CONSTRUCT COLOSSAL PROJECTS FOR WATER SUPPLY IN CITIES.
Even today, the surviving parts of the long aqueduct of Lyktos, that brought water to ancient Hersonissos, and the giant Venetian aqueduct, which brought water to the center of Candia (the contemporary city of Heraklion) from springs in Arhanes and Skalani, are awe-inspiring.
In major cities, water was provided through elaborate fountains, with the most famous being the surviving Morosini Fountain in the center of Heraklion. In many areas of Crete where water is scarce, such as the north mountainous part of the province Mirabello, large cisterns and wells are still used.
Although rivers in Crete are mainly seasonal, visitors will be impressed by some of the most beautiful stone bridges in Greece. The most famous is the arched bridge of Preveli. The ancient bridges of Eleftherna, built in the ekforic system, and Elliniki Kamara (Greek Bridge) at Vrysses have are of great archaeological importance.
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 of lightweight metal windmills that pumped water from wells.
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.