Koufonisi is a small island in the Libyan Sea just off the South East coast of Crete and the Cape of Goudouras. It is also named LEFKI and gave its name to the municipality. There is a cluster of small islets in the area like Makroulo, Strogylo, Trahila and Marmara. The island is deserted and in many spots it is covered with sand reminding an African landscape. Until 1976 the shepherds used to feed their sheep there but it was not inhabited. Later the Archaeological Offices of Eastern Crete under the authority of N. Papadakis began the excavations and the island proved to be full of ancient sites. A beautiful theater, made of stones, at the North West end of the island opposite the Marmaras islet was discovered. At the South East of the theater where a settlement was found, a villa with 8 rooms and a guest room was brought to light. The excavations also showed a workshop where the famous purple robes of the Romans was made. They also dig out an astonishing building, the Public Baths, dated back to 1st and 4th A.D. and ruins of an old temple. Boats depart daily from Makrygialos to Koufonissi (during the tourist season and only if the weather permits) offering day-trips.
The Municipality of Nikiforos Fokas is located in the north of Rethymnon Prefecture. The area is known for its outstanding natural beauty and its historical tradition and architecture. All of the municipality's settlements are steeped in history and contain fine examples of architecture, featuring stone buildings with vaulted entrances (known as "diavatika") and magnificent thresholds. The municipality's jurisdiction extends over the fourteen former community wards of Agios Konstantinos, Ano Valsamonero, Atsipopoulo, Gerani, Gonia (Athanatos), Zouridi, Kalonyktis, Kato Valsamonero, Malaki, Mountros, Prines, Roustika, Saitoures and Frantzeskiana Metochia, which comprise a total of 21 villages.
Monastiraki lies in the valley of Amari, on the natural route leading from northern Crete to the Messara plain. Excavations have brought to light a centre of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.). which was destroyed by fire following an earthquake. The large number of storerooms and the existence of two archive rooms with many clay sealings indicate a palatial character for the site. Other finds on the top of a neighbouring hill suggest there must have been a religious centre in the area, as well.
At a time that living organisms are disappearing at an alarming rate, especially through habitat destruction, the Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna of the Technical University of Crete, which extends to 30 hectares, constitutes a small but important area where native plants and co-existing animals are protected and can develop without human intervention. Up to now 250 different plant species that grow naturally in habitats of the Park have been identified, while their systematic documentation is still in progress. The development of new ecological units (“habitats”) began in areas of the Park that have been cultivated in the past. These will include plant species of Crete that do not grow naturally in the Park. Two such units, the wetland and the coastal habitats have already been launched. www.park.tuc.gr/
Eileithyia was a goddess that protected childbirth and this cave was the most important place of her worship. According to tradition she was born by Hera inside this cave, which is also mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey (t 188). The finds proove that it was continuously used from Neolithic until late Roman times, with more intensive occupation noted for the Neolithic, Minoan, and late Roman periods. Evidence for cult practice in the Early Christian times (5th century A.D.) also exists.
Restricted investigation was carried out in 1885 by Joseph Chatzidakis. The site was systematically excavated by Spyridon Marinatos in 1929-1938.
The most important monuments are:
The cave of Eileithyia. It is 64.5 m. long, entered from the east. Inside there was a rectangular anteroom and a rectangular peribolos surrounding cylindrical stalagmites (altar or cella).
Courtyard with the altars. The courtyard is exactly outside the cave and was probably used for ceremonial activities. Buildings of the 14th-13th centuries B.C. were discovered here and interpreted as priests' houses by their excavator.
It is the most significant group of windmills preserved on Crete. It occupies the northern entrance to the Lasithi plateau and is the landmark of the whole area. Today 24 windmills are preserved (out of the original 26), 7 of which extend to the south of the road that enters the plateau while the rest are built to the north of it. All the mills belong to the one-sided type of windmill, that grinds in a standard position, always on the same direction of the wind. Windmills of this type are preserved on Crete and on Carpathos but the Cretan ones are generally more carefully built and more elegant. The group of windmills has been declared a work of art since 1986. The mills belong to individuals and some of them have been restored while others still remain half-ruined. Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture