Almost the whole of Greece is an earthquake zone.  But having said that you can rest assured that there have been no major earthquake disasters affecting Crete in living memory.  Mainland Greece is another story, being the most earthquake affected country in Europe.  Looking at the daily reports from seismological institutes in Greece gives the impression that the country is in a constant state of shake!  It is!  To people from northern Europe, particularly the UK, this may seem a little anxiety provoking.

Is your holiday accommodation going to collapse and bury everyone in it.  Including you?  Is the house you plan to buy (or are living in already) going to vanish down a hole as the earth's crust opens up?  The answer is probably not - the risk here on Crete of such an event about the same as your swimming pool developing a sudden leak and depositing you suddenly on the bottom as the water escapes!

On mainland Greece and the Peloponnese there have been major earthquakes in the last twenty years or so which caused major damage and loss of life. 

  • Thessaloniki - 1978.
  • Athens - 1981.
  • Kalamata 1986.
  • Ilia 1993. 
  • Kozani-Greneva 1995.
  • Aegio 1995.
  • Athens 1999.  
The Athens Earthquake of 1999 had a magnitude of 5.9 Mw.  It occurred on September 7th at 11.56 GMT (2.56pm local).  143 people were killed. 1600 people were injured.  50,000 people were made homeless and at least 53,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.  The most serious damaged occurred  in the northern suburbs of Athens, close to the epicenter.
Recent Earthquakes....2001
On 26th July there was an earthquake measuring approximately 5.7R with an epicenter on the northern coast of the Greek island of Skyros in the Agean at 03.20 hrs.  There was structural damage to buildings and several motor vehicles were crushed by falling rocks.  There were no reports of injuries to people.  There were a number of aftershocks, including one of 5.3R and another on 28th July of 4.8R.  Serious damage occurred at the island's Castle; the St Georgios Monastery; and the Episcopal Byzantine church.
Should you worry...
Holiday makers need not worry.  Especially holiday-makers on Crete - most accommodation is purpose built to modern standards and many older buildings have 'earthquake bands' incorporated.  Since arriving on Crete in 1994 we have, on the Rodopos peninsula, experienced two small 'events' both shocks from nearby earthquakes with epicenters under the sea. 'Nearby' meaning anything up to 77 Km or more away.  And no, we didn't need to follow the advice in our telephone book-based graphic and shelter either under tables; doorway lintels; mattresses etc.  By the time we realised that the sensation of moving on the spot was an earthquake effect it was over.  The quakes were not felt everywhere on the island and I suspect that more than one holiday-maker thought that it was the night-before effect!

If you are buying or building a house here you should take the advice of an architect (structural engineer).  You should also check that insurers will cover you for earthquake damage at reasonable cost.  This was included in our own insurance without problems or special premium charges from an international broker based in the UK.

We also noted, before buying, that there was no history of earthquake damage in the area and that many houses of Venetian origin were still, in spite of being derelict, firmly standing.