Elyros ("Έλυρος" in Greek) is an ancient city, located in southwest Crete, in Kefala Hill, near the village Rodovani and is presently unexcavated. Elyros was flourishing at least as early as the Greek Classical Period, e.g. 500 to 350 BC. In the Classical Period Elyros was the most important ancient city in southwestern Crete, having about 16,000 inhabitants. It was an industrial and commercial city with large weapons production. Syia and Lissos were its harbours. Apollo, Phylakides and Philandros, sons of Apollo and nymph Akakallida, were worshiped there. In the third century BC Elyros was at war with Kydonia, an important center of Cretan power, located in the modern city of Chania. The citizens of Elyros sent to the Delphi Oracle, a bronze votive complex that represents a goat feeding the sons of Apollo when they were infants. It is also one of the thirty cities that signed the decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC.Elyros was also important during Roman times. A Roman statue, the Philosopher of Elyros was recovered here and is now in the Archaeological Museum of Chania. During Byzantine times, Elyros was the seat of an Archbishop and the remains of the bishopric church, a sixth century basilica, can still be seen in the centre of the old city. Robert Pashley was the first who identified the location of the city, near village Rodovani. Thenon studied more carefully the ruins of the city and discovered the inscription that says: “it seemed to the city of the Elyrians”. The output of its mint consists of silver drachms from the 3rd c. BC, which depict a wild goat and a bee; in addition to their function as religious symbols, these undoubtedly hint at the stock-raising activities in the region, particularly to this kind of wild goat, which can still be found in great numbers on the island. The bee also has reference to the abundant honey-production of Crete.
The village is located at 480m a.s.l. 24.5km away from Agios Nikolaos, taking the road from Kalo Horio- Prina, and 15 km from Ierapetra. It has 617 inhabitants, including the smaller villages Kamara and Psathi. Forests of platans, pine trees, olive trees and a spring with small waterfalls, are the characteristic of the villages environment. The hill " Kastelos " is overlooking the village and almost all the county of Ierapetra and the Libyan sea. At the top of Kastelos there is the cave "40 Chambers" with the small chapel of "Timios Stavros" in it. Sights :The gorge of Havga, the cave 40 Chambers, the cave Theriou Koufala, the hill Kastelos, the chapel of agios Antonios with curved temple and entrance, the chapels Agios Georgios, Agia Paraskevi, and Panagia Cultural associations :The cultural association of Kalamafka. Cultural events :The patronal feasts of Panagia at August 15 and Timios Stavros at September 14. Facilities to the visitors :No accomodation. A few taverns and cafes operating at day time.
The village of the rising sun, as its name declares. The golden rays illuminate Anatoli, the hanging rocks, the Holy Cross church, Drygies, Karkasa, and give the impression that the sun keeps rising. It is an old, historical, traditional village, situated at 17 km in the north-west of Ierapetra, at an altitude of 600 m. Its housesare visible from the plain and seem like white doves, nested in the fortified mountain of Anatoli. A privileged place, it has been a cradle of men of letters, Notaries, University professors, with great history and civilization.In the 70s, most of Anatoli’s residents got down to the plain and worked in the glasshouse cultivations. They founded, along with residents from other villages the settlementsStomio, Nea Anatoli, Ammoudares. The small picturesque village Kalogeroi, which, according to tradition, was built by a Turkish Aga, is part of Anatoli. It is referenced sincethe era of the Venetian rule. In 1583, along with Kalogeroi, it had 666 residents. In 1951 it had 897 and in 2001, along with Nea Anatoli, it had 1235 residents. The Tower of theVenetian feudal lord still lies in ruins in the north of the village. It nurtured important men of letters, such as Antonios Damilas, scribe and printer, Neilos Damilas, scholarlypriest-monk in the Karkasia Monastery, Dimitrios Damilas, brother of Antonios, scribe and printer in Milan, who published the “Greek Grammar” in 1476, Anthimos Donos,and Ioannis Olokalos, whose notary documents have been recently published. The latter had his seat in Drygies, a wonderful location in the east of the village with runningwaters, a tavern with a view of Ierapetra and the little church of Saint Foteini. Anatoli was an important intellectual center, having a school during the Venetian rule and a secretschool during the Turkish rule.The area of Anatoli, a fortified position, produced great fighters during the Turkish rule, such as Emmanuel Lakerdas, general chief of Ierapetra, Iakovos Mahairas, AthanasiosBarberakis and Georgios Bekiaris.Its history and struggles were imortant in all the historical periods. It has many ecclesiastical monuments, Monasteries and Byzantine icons of great art.The old traditional settlement of Anatoli has remained untouched by time, with its stone-built houses, the alleys, the old Kato Vrysi. Five years ago, it entered a program ofrenovation, was characterized as a traditional settlement and today houses and tourist lodgings of exceptional esthetics are built in stone. In a few years, Anatoli of Ierapetra willbe one of the most beautiful villages of Crete, with its wonderful climate, its extraordinary view, its incomparable natural landscape on which the Museum of Natural Historyof Crete has worked and about which it published a relevant document.Anatoli as well as its residents have to this day been successful in the agricultural, tourist and intellectual sectors. Personalities coming from the village dominate the political,social and intellectual life of our country. Anatoli was a Municipality in the beginning of the 20th century, then a Community and today a Local Department ofthe Municipality of Ierapetra, building its future on solid foundations. Hosting important cultural events, with itshistorical, folkloric and musical contributions, it is a center of attraction of bothlocals and foreigners. With two taverns, two coffee houses, a renovatedold school and hospitable residents, it satisfies the most demandingvisitors. Anatoli is even rich in snails and wild mushrooms.
A stately village built in settlements, 22 km away from Ierapetra, at an altitudeof 225 m, next to the Ierapetra-Vianos provincial road. A green landscape,overgrown with olive trees, with an unlimited view of the Libyan Sea, to thesurrounding areas Koleitos, Kakon Oros, to the beaches Vatos and Kallikovrechtis.An almost abandoned village, with old houses built of stone, with chiseled doorframes and coats of arms bearing the Christian cross and proving its old gloryand history.Giannis Dimitromanolakis, an author from Gdohia, writes:“Gdohia sprouted right opposite the beach of the Libyan Sea. Nothing wouldhave been better for the pirates, who, like diabolical ghosts, emerged into thenight to kill and prey. The village’s history is dipped in blood, as it often sufferedfrom the raids of the pirates from the Barbary Coast. It took the name Gdohiafrom the catastrophes, from the verb “gdyno”, to skin, to set fire, to devastate.”Gdohia’s course in time has evidence of struggles, sacrifices and holocausts toshow. It was not only exposed to the pirates but it was situated on the naturalsouth passage going from the Viannos area to the Ierapetra area. This meantthat the hordes of barbarous conquerors burnt and devastated it, along withthe other Symiana villages, as they are called, in the West Ierapetra.Gdohia’s settlements are built leaving a distance between each other: KatoGdohia or Pitropiana, taking their name from the Epitropakis family livingthere, Pefkiana or Grysboliana, from the Grysbolakis family, Dimitromanolianafrom the Dimitromanolakis family, Daskaliana from the Daskalakis family,Papadiana from the Papadakis family. Great stonecutters, stoneworkers,famous for their art, Gdohia’s residents built the mansions of the whole areaand the famous bridge of Myrtos using stones from the quarries of Kolleitos.The miraculous church of Panagia (Our Lady) Evaggelistria of Gdohia, a workof art and a great ecclesiastical monument is also built by Gdohia’s residents.Gdohia village, once the seat of a Community, today a Local Department ofthe Municipality of Ierapetra, presents an exceptional sight-seeing interest. Itprovides natural landscapes, beautiful beaches, picturesque little churches onthe hills, a spacious square with palm trees, seats and a war memorial forthe fallen fighters of the liberation wars. In the 1881 census, 296 residents areregistered and 73 in 2001. Gdohia’s permanent residents, along with someforeigners’ families who have bought and renovated old houses, struggle forthe village’s development which gradually acquires the necessary infrastructures.A village with rich history and civilization, with vast olive groves, a nicemild climate, both during summer and winter, it hopes to come back to life.The old mansions, half-wrecked and burned in the German Occupation, standas if they were sculptures, a painting with the deep blue Libyan Sea serving asa background, narrate the flourishing, the glory and the history of Gdohia andwait to be inhabited again.
It is a small village, at 7 km in the north of Ierapetra, at an altitude of 212 m. According to tradition, the village took its name from a large uncultivated olive tree. It produced at least 10 sacks of olives and it provoked admiration by its size, and mostly by its height (Makrylia meaning tall olive tree). The village is old and traditional, with original Cretan style houses that have remained untouched over the time, in a beautifuland healthy environment, with a view of the overgrown with olive trees plain, with a rich history and hospitable residents. Foreigners have bought houses and live there. Thevillage’s interior is impressive, with the old olive presses, the bridge-house in the alley, the village’s architecture and aesthetics. Evidence of ancient settlements is reported by the locals.At the site “Ellinika”, in the south-east of the village, on the hill “Petras”, where there are traces of an ancient Acropolis. Also at the site “Kefalovrysi”, there is an unexploredcave, where ancient skeletons and fragments of pots were found. The Christians took refuge in this cave during the Turkish rule in order to protect themselves, as its entrance is high up and cannot be seen from below. In the same area, at the site “Elion Riza”, there are traces of ancient artifacts of domestic use and mortars chiseled in the rocks. There are natural caves at the site “Koutsounari” above the village, where the residents also took refuge in cases of danger from the raids of conquerors and pirates. Makrylia’s tower, which is referenced to in medieval sources, was situated at the Monastery of Saint Anthony which had 101 cells. A historical Monastery that, according to tradition, was the place of gathering and shelter of the area’s chieftains, being a fortified position, with the tower and the thick walls thatprotected those confined in the Monastery. There was also the Legend of “Avoli Merthia”, that is of the myrtle tree beyond which no bullets could pass and harm its defendants. In the Monastery, the catholicon of which has been erected and dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul, there was the Golden Bell. In the village’s precinct, during the Turkish rule, a lot of battles took place and the heroism of the residents of the wider region is well documented, with the most famous incident being the one of Nikolaos Varsamidiskilling Pitavotyros. Makryliá used to be a shelter for the residents of Ierapetra during the German Occupation, in 1583 it had 187 residents, with its first settlers coming from Meseleroi and building their first huts there. In 1951, it had 225 residents and, in the 2001 census, 120 were registered. It produced olive oil, carobs, cereals, had 3 olive presses, and 150 threshing floors in their cereal fields. A sight to see in Makrylia is a site below the village, where rocks of various geological periods, fossils of animals and fish can be seen, scientific research is conducted byforeign Universities and environmental education is provided to students. Today, Makrylia is a small lively village, its residents are increased, its physiognomy is set out by the renovations of stone-built houses, and it receives a lot of visitors for itssights.
This 2 km long sandy beach was for years and still is the favorite beach of the people of Heraklion town. It is named after the river "Karteros" which outflows at the west end of it near the airport. The water is clean, the seabed is sandy with smoothly shelving and swimming is safe. The access is free in most parts except for some areas that are reserved for military personnel and the municipal beach "Akti" where visitors should pay an entrance fee in order to use the facilities. At the east end there are some very good taverns offering fresh fish among their specialties and are very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Dia (GR: Δία & Ντία) is an uninhabited island approximately 7 nautical miles north of Heraklion. It is surrounded by small rocky inlets and its maximum length is 5kms while its maximum width 3kms. Dia is one of NATURA's protected areas due to its status as a biotope for endemic plants and for plants with low dispersal within the Southern Aegean.
Located at the top (1750m) of Skinakas mountain of Idi (Ida) mounatin range, 60km from Heraklion. There are two telescopes and modern equipment and facilities both for research and educational activities in astronomy. It is a department of the University of Crete. Skinakas observatory offers a number of open days each year. This gives the opportunity to visitors to be introduced to the operation of the observatory, to get informed about the latest achievements in Astrophysics and to observe through the telescope. Open days for the year 2012: August 26 September 23
During the open days the Observatory facilities can be visited from 17:00 to 23:00. Due to low temperatures at the Skinakas altitude, warm clothes are highly recommended. The visitors will have the opportunity to be guided through the Observatory's infrastructure and follow a related presentation. The road to Skinakas Observatory is very narrow. Accident may occur and the space is limited on the top. For the reasons above, buses are not allowed (advised) to visit the Observatory during open days. Website : http://skinakas.physics.uoc.gr/
Kyra Eleoússa (GR: Κυρά Ελεούσα) Monastery is located close to the village Voroú or Voritsi. Due to its historical value the monastery and the outside area which covers 1000m has acquired protected status. Kyra Eleoussa is built according to feudal architectural style, and despite some interventions over the years it maintains many original architectural features. It is first referred in a document dating from 1606. At first it belonged to the monastery of Agia Ekaterini of Sinai but later it became part of Agarathos monastery.
The monastery of Agaráthou (GR: Μονή Αγκαράθου), dedicated to the Virgin, stands at an altitude of 538m, on "Soros Panteli", a rocky hill between the villages of Sgourokefali and Sabas, 23 km from Heraklion. During the period of Venetian rule it was a centre of learning, producing many famous churchmen including the Patriarchs Cyril Lucaris, Meletius Pegas and Sylvester the Cretan. The church was rebuilt in 1894 and flourished once more after the end of the Turkish occupation. Young, educated monks with university degrees have recently settled in the monastery, restoring it to its former glory.