Cretans - Settlements

Rural communities range in population from less than 100 to several thousands. Some small but spatially distinct villages are absorbed into larger communities for purposes of local government and church affairs. Most villages are constructed on a cluster pattern, often around a church and plaza, although the excellent road system has induced an increasing tendency toward the development of areas along the roads, or "ribbon development," often leading to the absorption of smaller subsettlements ( metokhia ). Houses, commonly grouped in patrigroup-based neighborhoods, often have small adjoining vegetable gardens; terraces, formerly used for grain cultivation and now mostly given over to grazing, rise above many mountain villages. Plains dwellers have direct access to fields in adjacent areas; many highland pastoralists who have turned to agricultural pursuits have purchased lands in the more depopulated, lower-lying villages. Village houses used to be single-story, with a single room to house the entire family at night; these have been replaced largely by two-story concrete structures. Many urban dwellers live in apartments, while others—mostly in Khania and Rethimno—inhabit refurbished houses of Turkish and Venetian date. Front balconies on all kinds of dwellings provide a view of surrounding social activity and a place to entertain less formal visitors.

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