Crete : Towns & Villages
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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.
Gouves (Pano) Village
Pano Gouves (GR: Πάνω Γούβες) is a village of the district of Pediada in the prefecture of Iraklion at a height of 100 metres above sea-level. It lies twenty kms away from Iraklion, to the right at 17.3 kms on the National Road to Aghios Nikolaos. The village is built on the western flanks of the Ederi hill (322 m.). The name comes from "edera" which means ivy and symbolises affection.
The name Gouves, on the other hand, comes from Gouva and means a hollow in the earth. It also means, in Crete, a hole in which during the middle ages, people stored their wheat.
The earliest reference we have of the village is that of "Guves" in 1387 documents of the Duke’s archives in Chandax. Later on, in 1577, Fr. Barozzi mentions "Guvos" in the district of Pediados, and then "Guves" in the 1583 Register, with 252 inhabitants. Finally, in 1630, Vassilikata refers to "Vuves’.
This is the birthplace of the poet Ioannis Konstantinidis.
There are several outstanding churches in the village, among them: Zoodochos Pigis, Aghios Giorgos, Aghios Ioannis and Panayia (dedicated to the birth of Our Lady).
Agia Pelagia Village
Malevizi, North - West Iraklion
Agia Pelagia lies 20km west of Iraklion. The bay of Agia Pelagia is ideal for combining sea sports with relaxation. The visitor will find well trained instructors that offer lessons for sea sports such as water-ski, wind surf, canoe. Agia Pelagia offers unique high standard hotel facilities as well as many small hotels and pensions.
Malevizi, North - West Iraklion
A traditional village - birth place of Domenikos Theotokopoulos (EL GRECO) - with many pottery and weaving workshops. Close to the village is a small beach with taverns and a large hotel resort. Fodele is known also for its quality orange production.
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.
Rethymnon North coast
Panormo is a small coastal village with ~400 inhabitants, located 25km east of Rethymnon in a small distance from the national road.
The village has developed to a tourist resort providing quite a few tourist facilities such as hotels, apartments, lovely taverns and bars.
There is also a small fishing harbour that serves mostly the locals.
It is an nice place for swimming as its beaches - with umbrellas , sun beds etc - are with fine sand and clear water.
Early-Christian basilica in Panormo
In 1948 the archaeological axe brought to light the largest early-Christian basilica of Crete southwest of the village of Panormo. The basilica of Aghia Sofia had a wooden roof and dates back to the 5th century.
About 25km from Panormo to the mainland is the archaeological site of Eleftherna.
Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Mires, Messara Valley
It is located north of Mires close to a small gorge, with springs and covered with trees. There are many churches in the village the most important one being the church of Agios Nikolaos, a domed church dated to the 13th century. The walls of the temple are hand painted with biblical scenes and pictures of saints
Zouridi is a village of the county of Rethymno, located 19,5 km away from the city, built at 260m a.s.l. with 90 inhabitants. Here excavations unearthed findings from the post palace period, and the Roman period as well as many venetian houses. Nowadays the village is characterized as a preservable settlement, and buildings such as the old high school are going to be restored.
Agia Paraskevi village
Village of the area of Kastelli with 115 residents, Agia Paraskevi is situated 5 km northeast of Kastelli at an altitude of 400m. It is first mentioned in the Turkish census of 1671 as Agia Paraskevi tou Xourdou with 17 haratsia (head tax).
It is very possible that Santa Venerata, a village mentioned in 1463 by Cardinal Bissarion, is the name by which Agia Paraskevi was known at that period.
Amariano, a charming small village of 321 inhabitants, (census 2001), lies in the western foothills of Afendi mountain, at an altitude of 530m. It is located at 7, 2 km east of Kastelli and can be found on the road axis; Kasteli -Xidas- Kastamonitsa-Amariano.
With the traditional, century old plane tree in the middle of the village square, with the fountain, surrounded by kafeneions (traditional cafes) serving refreshments; raki (or tsikoudia, the traditional Cretan spirit) and mezedes (tit-bits), Amariano is a typical Cretan village, well worth a look. Until recently, the leather tannery was a main activity among the villagers. The main produce today are olive oil, raisins and grapes, although there is also livestock.
Close by is the church of Agios Giorgos Kefaliotis with good quality wall paintings.
The cultural centre of Amariano organises a great feast on August 15th, the Dormition of Theotokos and on September 20th, day of the patron saint, Aghios Eustathios. This can be a great occasion for any visitor to live an authentic cultural experience, to meet the people and taste the traditional Cretan cuisine.
The first mention of the village -Amariano and Mariano- is to be found in inscriptions dating back to 1394-1399. Fr. Barozzi also mentions it in the region of Pediada in 1577.
The name is significant: Amari is an area close to the town of Rethymnon, therefore the first inhabitants were originally from the Amari region. During the second Byzantine period, this region was known as Apano Syvritos and the name Amari is first mention in Venetian times. This would imply that the village was first founded during the Venetian conquest of the island. The first spelling, Amarianos, is the correct one and the family names Amarianos, Amargianitakis and Amariotis first appear in the 16th century, in the 1583 cencus.
Apostoloi (GR: Αποστόλοι) is a village in the area of Kasteli, 360 m above sea level. It has about 490 inhabitants, and is located on the 32 km of the road leading to Kasteli in the NW part of Apostolianos Kampos, among vineyards and olive groves.
Until recently tannery was a main activity among the villagers.
The earliest reference to the name is to be found in a contract drawn in 1279, where Sancti Apostoli et Sophoro were lands belonging to the Venetian lord Leonardus Gradonicus, who gave them and leased them to Petro Quinino. There is another mention of the name in a document dated to 1378.
It is also quoted by Fr. Barozzi in 1577 as forming part of the Pediada district.
The name of the village finds its origins in the name of an old church dedicated to the Saint Apostles. The present church was built on the same site in the 19th century, in 1876. The church of Agios Giorgos is Byzantine and has wall paintings.
According to village tradition, on the night of Easter in 1841, the Turks caught the Cretan leader of the revolution for the Eastern part of the island, Giorgos Vassilakis, or Vassilakogiorgi and hanged him from a fig tree.The village kapheneions serve particularly good raki and on June 29th there is a great feast in the honour of the Saint Apostles, Peter and Paul.
Armacha (GR: Αρμάχα) lies at 490 m above sea level, at a distance of 7km from Kastelli, with 110 residents (census 2001) and is first referred to by Barozzi in 1577. Armacha is rich in the production of agricultural and livestock products.
The Metropolitan Bishop, Tirnovos Voulgaria Ilarionas Kabanaris Sinitis was born, and is also buried here. A man of advanced learning, he wanted to translate the Bible to Demotic Greek.
330 m above sea level, just out of Kasteli (1.5 km) to the east, lies the village of Archangelos (GR: Αρχάγγελος) with 433 residents.
It was founded in 961 by the military forces of Nikiphoros Phocas and was originally named ‘Varvaro’, and was still known by that name in 1583, where the Chandax Register puts it down as a village of the Pediada district with 37 inhabitants.
Its name was changed only recently, in 1961, to Archangelos, and the main village church in the square is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. There is another smaller and older church, that of the Panaghia, with Byzantine wall paintings. Remains of ancient mills can still be seen.
In a location known as Trochalos, archaeological finds have brought to light a series of Minoan tools dating back to the first and second Late Minoan periods.
As in every Cretan village, raki and ‘mezedes’ are always available at the kapheneions.
The feast of Michail Archangelos on November 8th is celebrated with much feasting in the village.
Askoi (GR: Ασκοί) is small village in the municipality of Kasteli has 315 inhabitants. It lies in the foothills of the Dikti mountain, 11 km to the east of Kasteli and 8 km from Lyttos.
Fr. Barozzi mentions it as Ascus, in the Pediada district, in 1577.
Recently a ritual clay figurine of the Mid-Minoan period was fortuitously unearthed on a peak close to the village. The remains of a large building belonging to a peak sanctuary have been excavated at Amygdalokefalo to the NE of the village.
A reference in a contract of 1271, mentions how Petri Comarii from the village (casali) Maski owes Ruggerino Temisano, resident in Chandax, 25 «mistata» of good Cretan wine from his vineyards in Maski.
Among other natural beauties, the ravine at Aski is well worth seeing.
On December 4th the village has a typical Cretan feast to honour Agia Varvara. And as in every Cretan village, raki and ‘mezedes’ are always available at the kafeneions.
Geraki (GR: Γεράκι). This lovely village of 375 inhabitants is located on the western slopes of the Lassithi mountains between the peaks of Afendi (1578 m) and Sarakinos (1588 m) in a beautiful glen, 520m above sea level and only 9km SE of Kastelli.
It features an interesting Byzantine church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael (Archangelos Michail) with wall paintings that have not been maintained and some interesting (movable) icons by the local painter, Sepis.
The active cultural centre of Geraki organizes many events during the summer season. Twice a year the village has a typical Cretan feast in honour of its patron saints: Agia Paraskevi on July 26th and Michail Archangelos on 8th November.
The village produces agricultural products and great cheese that led to a specific cheese celebration.
From Geraki you can also reach the lovely chapel of Agia Anna, driving through a particularly beautiful landscape with a spectacular view over the Geraki glen and fresh running water, a place ideal for a picnic.
Epano Karouzana village
A beautiful small settlement, with 48 people, Epano Karouziana (GR: Επάνω Καρουζανά) lies at an altitude of 380m and is located at 40km from Herakleion. It is mentioned for the first time in 1842, its name was taken by a family name "Karouzos" common in the village.
The village offers a spectacular view, picturesque paved lanes, traditional kafeneia and taverns and is a popular with tourists, especially in the summer when many Cretan evenings are organized with local music and dance.
Kato Karouzana village
Anbother beautiful small settlement, with 38 people, Kato Karouziana (GR: Κάτω Καρουζανά) lies at an altitude of 300m and is located at 49km from Herakleion and 1km from Epano Karouzana.
It offers a spectacular view to the Kastelli plain, picturesque paved lanes, traditional kafeneia and taverns and is a popular with tourists, especially in the summer when many Cretan evenings are organized with local music and dance.
Diavaide (GR: Διαβαϊδέ) has 120 inhabitants and lies very near to Kasteli (700m to the SE) at 355m above sea level.
The earliest reference to the name is found in the Ducal Archives at Chandax in 1378. Another document in the same archives mentions a certain G. Dochiano, inhabitant of Diavaide.
In an inscription, found in the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios Sfakiotis, the name of the village is clearly mentioned, indicating that Diavaide existed well before the Turkish occupation. In that church there is a unique fresco of Byzantine art that represents Saint George and Saint Demeter passing through the sea on their horses, while at their feet lie various sea creatures; crabs, lobsters, and other fish, a strange phenomenon indeed, considering that the village is so far away from the sea. There is also the church of Agios Nikolaos in the village dated to the same period.
The village took part in all the main fights by Crete against the enemies of its freedom, while during German occupation the high college of Kastelli continued to operate in Diavaide houses.
The cultural association of the village, one of the first in this area, strives to maintain the cultural traditions and the continuity of village history through the years.
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