Crete : Towns & Villages
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North West Crete
Hania (or Chania GR: Χανιά) is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants. It lies (Coordinates 35°31' N 24°1' E ) along the North coast of the island, about 55 km west of Rethymnon and 140 km west of Iraklion (Heraklion). Hania's old town (although it was heavily bombed by Germans in World War II) is considered as Crete's most beautiful urban district, especially the Venetian harbour with its 16th century lighthouse and the Mosque of the Janissaries ("Giali Tzamissi", built 17th century). Many of the old buildings have been restored as hotels, restaurants, shops and bars, making the old town a lively and colourful place, especially during the tourist period.
Selino, Hania South West
The pearl of the Libyan Sea! Paleochora (population~ 1500) is surrounded by mountains and is situated at the tip of a peninsular. Along the western side is a long sandy beach fringed by trees and tavernas. At the tip of the peninsular is the remains of an old Venetian (Selino Kasteli) fort and a marina. On the eastern side lies the old town, the ferry dock and a long pebble beach lined with tavernas.
Paleochora becomes very busy during high season but still have places for those who want to get away from the crowd. Little boats are linking Paleohora with Agia Roumeli, Hora Sfakion and the small island of Gavdos. Regular buses per day are linking Paleohora to Chania (~75kms).
Sfakia are centred around the White Mountains mountain range, Madares, as they are called in Crete with 110 peaks and the most and biggest gorges. Sfakia remain the most wild and unspoiled landscape in all Crete. Hora Sfakion, the seaside capital of the county, is a coastal village located on the Southwestern coast of Crete, 70 km from the city of Hania and 150 km from Iraklion. In its picturesque, enclosed harbor, the small boats from Agia Roumeli dock in the summer, bringing the hikers from the Samaria Gorge. Visitors can enjoy the quiet and calm of the village , on the seaside cafes and tavernas...
The beautiful town of Kissamos is located 42 km west of Hania and it is the capital of the Kissamos county. Kissamos is surrounded by beautiful landscape and has about 3.000 inhabitants. Kissamos is not a crowdy tourist resort, its development is based mostly in the wine and oil produce, and the agricultural products.
Kissamos is built along a wonderful sandy beach. It is located where the ancient city of Kissamos stood. With Kissamos as a starting point you can visit the archaeological sites of Falassarna and Polyrinia, the Gramvoussa isles (pirate isles), the beautiful Georges of Topolia, Sirikari, the lagoon of Balos, the medieval villages, etc.
Georgioupolis lies at the northern coast of Crete, about 35km away from Hania and 20 km from Rethimno. It is a nice coastal village situated at the bay of Almiros, in a lovely green scenery. It has a sandy beach and attracts quite a few visitors in the summer time. It provides all the necessary facilities to the tourists.
Sfakia, South Hania
On the south coast of Crete, on a magnificent white sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortresses, Fragokastello, built in 1371. It is located approximately 170 km from Iraklion, 70 km from Rethimnon, and 70 Km from Hania. Today, Fragokastello is a small, but developing, community, with nice beaches covered in sand dunes, and limited, but increasing, tourist facilities.The Villages Patsianos and Kalikratis, the castle, the history of the place and the fenomenon of Drossoulites...
Α principal village located at 280m a.sl., on the main road to the southern coast, 47km from Hania and 22km from Kastelli with 370 inhabitants. There are a post Office and police station, workshops, olive press, wheat mill etc. The village lies at the entrance of the gorge of Topolia and 27 km away is the monastery of Chrissoskalitissa.
The gorge is lush with plane-trees, wild olive trees, flowers, and bushes. Its walls are 300m high, and the width in some cases is 5m only. Through the gorge flows the river Tiflos.
A little after the village, there is a well maintained footpath on the mountain side which reaches the Agia Sophia Cave at 285m a.s.l. The cave is of great scientific interest, has a diameter of 70m and it is 20m high. There are marvelous stalagmites and stalactites of various shapes.
At the left end there is a small church with an icon that, as tradition says, came from Constantinople, and has been wedged in a rock. In the cave were discovered many finds from neolithic era.
Two patron feasts are taking place there each year: One on Tuesday after Easter and a second on December 24, when the birth of Jesus is represented.
The village of Mournies is a principal village, located 3.8 km south of Hania at 40m a.s.l. It took the name "Mournies" from the numerous mulberry trees, that use to be here even today. At the beginning of the 17th century, Mournies was famous for its beautiful villas, belonging to local noblemen. One of them, located southeast of the village, was the imposing three storey villa of "Koukounara". It had beautiful flowery gardens, fountains, statues ..., a real paradise, where many famous persons were received hospitality, amongst them the glorious Mme Ortans, the empress Eugene of Napoleon the third, queen Olga of Greece, and the king Constantinos in 1913. The villa today, being restored, houses a department of the Geek Navy.
Mournies was the birth place of one of the greatest statesman of the new Hellenic Republic, Eleftherios Venizelos. Venizelos' influence on the history of Greece was paramount, from his participation to the talks with the Ottomans that resulted to granting Crete independence in 1897, to the final union of Crete with Greece in 1913. The house of Venizelos located in Mournies is going to be a museum, and many personal items of the politician are going to be on display there.
Vámos (GR: Βάμος) is the capital of Apokoronas district is an exceptionally interesting village that the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works has classed as traditional. It is more like a small town, very well preserved, with folk and neoclassical architectural elements. The initiative of a group of inhabitants to create an association for the preservation of the village as well as alternative tourism strategies is already paying off while constituting a model for further local progress. The famous art and cultural festivals are good opportunities for everyone to experience the hospitality and entertainment Vamos can offer.
Coastal town in Selino, South Hania
The village of Souyia or Soúgia (GR:Σούγια) is located 75 km southwest of Hania at the southern coast of Crete a little to the east of Paliohora. Sougia is becoming very popular vacation place especially with nature lovers and walkers. There are some ancient sites around and Sougia itself was the port of the ancient town 'Elyros'. There are also quite a few accommodation properties and taverns, a great beach and a small port .
Sfakia, White Mountains
It is located at an altitude of 750 m, 50 km SE from the city of Hania and 20 km from the village of Vryses. Its population is approximately 500 people. The small villages that constitute the community of Askifou are Kares, Ammoudari, Goni and Petres. The most touristic organised of them is Ammoudari with restaurants, gas station, and some rooms for rent.
The traditional little village of Vrisses lies approx. 35 km from Chania town. The old village square with its tall plane trees, the tavernas and kafenions is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush green landscape by the river Vrissanos and taste the renowned and particularly delicious local yogurt.
Sfakia, Hania, Crete
At the exit of the ravine of Imbros, near the south coast of Sfakia. It is located at an altitude of 200 m, 68 km from the city of Hania and 4,5 km from Hora Sfakion. The area is covered with olive trees and the view to the Libyan sea and the island of Gavdos in the horizon...
Pláka (GR: Πλάκα) is a lovely village in the Apokoronas area, less than one kilometer away from Almyrida, with interesting architectural style, which is unfortunately changing due to intense building mainly for tourist purposes. Its ~300 permanent inhabitants, occupying mostly with farming, stock-breeding, fishing and lately with tourism.
It has all the basic amenities, including excellent tavernas, bars, a grocery store and a kafeneion.
Plaka is built on the slope of a hill at 70 m above sea, with a panoramic view of the bay of Souda. The surrounding environment has maintained its character well and is ideal for walks either inland or along the coast. Visitors can also admire a magical sunset from here. Every summer -at about the end of July- a two days traditional feast - The Plakiana - is organized to honour the memory of the great local lyra player Mihalis Papadakis or else Plakianos. During the feast guests enjoy Cretan dances and can visit the textile and ceramics exhibitions. The custom of Klidonas is celebrated at the end of June and the Carnival usually takes place in March.
A flourishing traditional seaside town on the Apokoronas Peninsula 17km east of Hania. Kalýves (or Kalives GR: Καλύβες) with its old tiled stone houses, mixed with the latest buildings form two separate districts, with typical island style. Most of it is literally built on the sea and has 1289 residents. Xydás (GR: Ξυδάς) river that runs through the town, is giving it a unique character and a cool climate that prevents the heat of summer. In the square, you will see a traditional water mill built in the early 20th century, one of the oldest in the area. Kalives is tastefully developed for tourism, and welcomes many visitors during the summer season to its safe sandy beach. With comprehensive amenities, there are many shops, taverns and kafeneion, in addition to banking, post office and petrol station facilities.
Thérisso (GR: Θέρισο) is a small village, built on the foot of the White mountains, at 580 m a.s.l, 20km south of the city of Hania. It has 156 inhabitants and it is famous for its physical beauty, its diary-farming and its glorious past.
You can reach Therisso from Perivolia passing through the Canyon (good asphalt road), or from Drakona, crossing the 7km dirt road through the forest.
From here starts the trekking path which leads to the highest peak of the White mountains, Pahnes (2452m)
Due to its location Therisso played a significant role at the history of the island especially during the 19th Century. A mill's stone located at the entrance of the village reminds the death of a young woman (grinded alive), when she denied to surrender to Mustafa Pasha.
Here were born the great Cretan revolutionaries (Hainis), Vassilis, Giannis and Stefanos Halis. Vassilis Halis, became a hainis very young, and participated to the most great battles against the Turks in Crete and Peloponnissos. He was lt General when he died at Nafplion (Peloponnissos) in 1846.
But Therisso is mostly known for its relation with the Venizelos movement in March 1905. Venizelos, who dissented with prince George' policy and declared the Union of Crete with Greece, had his headquarters at Therisso. The house of Venizelos is today a museum.
The visitor to Therisso will admire the natural beauty, learn a lot of the history of the place listening to various stories and looking at the historical monuments, and taste the local specialties at the lovely taverns of the village.
2,5 km north of Therisso, at the left bank of Kladissos river, there is a cave where signs of neolithic and Minoan habitation were discovered. It is believed that it was a worship place.
Kokino Horio village
Kókino Horio (GR: Κόκκινο Χωρίο), which is located at a higher altitude, has maintained its traditional architectural style even more so than the other villages with its narrow roads, beautiful gates and tiled roofs.
A group of cisterns, built in a sloping field, gather the rainwater, an interesting example of local architecture, dealing with the permanent problem of lack of water.
Above Kokino Horio one can see the strangely shaped hill Drapanokefala or Calapodha (so named during the venetian occupation). The coastline northwest of the village is an extremely interesting place for a stroll due to the ground formation and the caves, such as the cave of Petsi (or Karavotopos).
Another cave called Katalimata, located at the centre of the village, is also an interesting site.
At cape Drapano, approximately 10 metres under water, is the impressive Elephant cave, an area 60mx60m full of stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes and colours.
A beautiful small sea side village with long sandy beach where wind surf, canoes, paddle boats, umbrellas and sun beds can be rented. The place provides all the facilities for the visitors with small hotels, rooms, apartments and many taverns with traditional food and fresh fish. Recent years it became very popular with expatriates and there is a significant development in the real estate sector.
Sfakia, South Hania
Loutro is a small village halfway from Agia Roumeli, where the Samarian gorge ends, to Hora Sfakion, accessible only by boat. The majestic scenery, the calm, the crystal clear water and the hospitality of the local people gave Loutro numerous friends and ardent visitors. No cars, no bikes... nothing to spoil the peace of this historical place. Some small hotels, apartments and rooms as well as a few lovely taverns offer their guests a friendly atmosphere that makes Loutro an ideal place for vacation and relax.
Sirikari (GR Σηρικάρι) is a small village located 52 km away from Hania and 14 km from Kastelli at 500m a.s.l. The name Sirikari probably comes from the profession of the first settler, who has to be a silk weaver (Sirikaris).
A short ravine starts from Sirikari and ends close to Polyrinia. There is also a chestnut tree forest, the cave of the Holy Mother (Panagias), the byzantine church of Agii Apostoli, with frescoes of 14th century a monument of great importance and two old factories.
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