Crete : Regional Interest
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It is built at 500m a.s.l. and 37km away from the city of Rethymno, with 400 inhabitants most of them farmers and stock breeders. It took its name due to its position, "MYRIOKEFALA" means myriads of heads (here :Hills). It is the birth place of George Maravelakis, a great fighter of the 1866 revolution against the turks. The monastery of Miriokefala, an interesting sight, devoted to the Holly Mother, was established by Ai Kir Giannis (a Cretan Saint) in the 11th century. There are many icons of Byzantine art, among them this of Holly Mother.
Zakros Gorge of Dead
Zakros, Sitia, East Crete
Within a few distance from the town of Zakros, starts the Gorge, which ends at the bay of Kato Zakros, almost near the Palace area. This gorge is of outstanding beauty, with large caves in its walls. In those caves were discovered tombs dated to the Minoan period, and finds of great archaeological importance. That is the reason why the caves are named "The Caves of Dead" and the gorge "The Gorge of Dead".
Because of its natural beauty and archaeological significance the gorge attracts numerous visitors every year.
Messara Bay, Iraklion
Two small dry and uninhabited islets off the bay of Messara, ~7.5 naut. miles to the west of Matala. Due to their close proximity to one another the two islands appear as one from a distance. They are also called "elephantaki" as from north they look like a baby elephant that is lying down. In mythology it is believed that the goddess Lito gave birth to the god Apollon and the goddess Artemis on these islands. In antiquity they were called Dionissioi after the god Dionissos.
During the summertime there are small cruising boats that bring tourists here from Agia Galini and Kokkinos Pyrgos. There is only a small beach with fine pebble and rich seabed at the south side of the easternmost islet.
Nirou Chani, North - East Iraklion
A Luxurious, two-storey house, built of large ashlar. The walls were strengthened by timber-frames and covered with a thick layer of plaster and marble slabs. The building has a paved courtyard, a shrine, storerooms for agricultural products, a staircase, and rooms with benches. It has been interpreted as a High Priest's house, due to the numerous ceremonial vessels it contained.
The house was probably built in the 16th century. C. (MM III period) and, after its destruction by fire in the 15th century BC (LM IB period), was finally abandoned.
The "Minoan Megaron" at Nirou was excavated in 1918 by St. Xanthoudides. In 1960, under the supervision of the Ephor of Antiquities N. Platon, the site was fenced and the building restored. The monument is consolidated and cleared at intervals by the 23rd Ephorate.
Daily: 8:30-15:00, Monday: closed
Entrance Fee:Free Admission
Michael Damaskenos or Michail Damaskenos (Greek: Μιχαήλ Δαμασκηνός, 1530/35-1592/93) was a leading post-Byzantine Cretan painter. He is a major representative of the Cretan School of painting that flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries, whilst Crete was under Venetian rule. He was a near-contemporary of the most famous Cretan painter of any period, El Greco, but though Damaskinos also went to Italy, he remained much closer to his Greek roots stylistically.
There is little information regarding the life of Damaskinos. He was born in Candia (today's Herakleion), the son of Tzortzis Damaskinos. He had a daughter named Antonia who married the painter Yannas Mantoufos. Damaskinos lived in Venice for several years, where he learnt miniature painting and travelled extensively throughout Italy. He was a member of the Greek Brotherhood of Venice from 1577–1582, having been in Venice since 1574. He painted along with Emmanuel Tzanes the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of San Giorgio dei Greci in Venice. In 1584 he was back in Greece and worked mainly in Crete and the Ionian islands. His works are in traditional Byzantine style but with many influences from Venetian painting, mainly Renaissance artists such as Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese. He used a particular rose colour that characterised his paintings, his figures dimensions are defined by only few brushes while he was drawing wooden and never marble thrones as was typical in the Cretan School. That Damaskinos was highly regarded is shown by him being invited from Crete, despite all the many Greek artists already in Venice to paint the frescoes of San Giorgio dei Greci.. Damaskinos was also the first artist to introduce paler flesh tones into post-Byzantine painting and it was one of the stylistic features of his work which proved highly influential from the second half of the sixteenth century and onwards . As was usual for distinguished painters, Damaskinos signed his works: ΧΕΙΡ ΜΙΧΑΗΛ ΤΟΥ ΔΑΜΑΣΚΗΝΟΥ or ΧΕΙΡ ΜΙΧΑΗΛ ΔΑΜΑΣΚΗΝΟΥ, ΔΑΜΑΣΚΗΝΟΥ ΜΙΧΑΗΛ ΧΕΙΡ or even ΠΟΙΗΜΑ ΜΙΧΑΗΛ ΤΟΥ ΔΑΜΑΣΚΗΝΟΥ (creation of Michael Damaskinos) . Damaskinos having worked extensively in the Ionian islands has contributed to the fusion of the Cretan and the Heptanese School of painting.
Elyros, Ancient city
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, 7 km to the north of Ierapetra, at an altitude of 212 m. According to tradition, the village took its name from a large 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 beautiful and healthy environment, with a view of the overgrown with olive trees plain, with a rich history and hospitable residents.
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:
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 Eleoussa Monastery
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.
Sitia, East Crete
The village of Tourloti (GR: Τουρλωτή) is located in Eastern Crete, on the road from Agios Nikolaos to Sitia. Tourloti is 42 km from Agios Nikolaos and 27 Km from Sitia. Tourloti is a small, traditional village, the largest of a group of four, dotted across the hillsides in this area. It has changed little in the past few decades, and remains untouched by tourism.
However, it retains a healthy vibrant Greek community, of families living and working in the local area. The village has a prominent church, primary school, two small mini-markets, a bakery, chemist, post office, two kafenions and one small traditional taverna. The narrow streets with white washed houses, flower filled alleyways, and glimpses of spectacular views, give the village a unique, timeless sense of tranquility, far removed from modern city life. It is the centre for several religious celebrations and festivals, especially over Easter and the summer months.
Between OLEROS and OLERIA there is the village Meseleroi, which took its name from the ancient OLEROS. It is situated at 10 km in the north of Ierapetra at an altitude of 360 m. Ancient Oleros flourished during the classical times, to be conquered by thepowerful Ierapytna. Oleria was a place of worship for Oleria Athena, with its famous statue, venerated by the residents of Oleria and Ierapytna.
It is a small village with few residents, loacated 4 km to the west of the village Christos at an altitude of 600 m. The residents of Metaxohori (GR: Μεταξοχώρι, or Parsás - GR: Παρσάς) have immigrated to the plains of Ierapetra, in Stomio, Ammoudares and Xerokampos and work in the glasshouses. The village has been renamed in 1955 from Parsas to Metaxohori to honor the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis who was born here.
Mournies (GR: Μουρνιές - meaning: mulberry trees) is a village of the western Ierapetra. It is located north of Myrtos, and 25 kilometers away from Ierapetra at 275m (elevation), built on the southeastern outskirts of the Lasithi mountains, with beautiful views of the Libyan Sea and the plains of Ierapetra. It has a mild climate, without extremes, ideal both for permanent residence and for holidays. The landscape is hilly plenty of olive trees. In the 2001 census it had 83 residents.
Mournies is a beautiful, historic, picturesque and traditional village with cafes, a square with a war memorial, an old fountain, and narrow streets branching off the main street of the village. Mournies was named after the Mulberry tree which however is not abundant in the area.
Deep inside the valley of the river Sarantapihos is built the village Mythoi. It is 22 km away from Ierapetra, it is a small village, in a verdurous landscape,with a beautiful square under the shade of age-old planes. It is said that the village took its name from the plant “Minthi”, or mint, which is abundant there.However, it may have been named thus because of its many legends, traditions, and myths (mythoi), the most prevalent one being the Sarantapihos’ one. A mythical giant, forty ells tall, like another Talos or Akritas Digenis, he protected the residents from raids. There are the place names “Tou Sarantapihoui Patounia” (Sarantapihos’ footprint) and “Tou Sarantapihou to Mnima”(Sarantapihos’ grave). There is evidence of ancient habitation at the site “Leniko” where traces of walls can be seen. Also, in an excavation, the head of a woman of the Roman period has been found. At the sites Kastelou Haraki and Orfanou to Spiliari claypots, oil lamps, e.t.c. have been found. The site called Sarakina above Mythoi was a fortress, a hideout of Saracen pirates. The village’s modern history is rich in contributions to the struggles against the conquerors. It nurtured the chieftains Emmanouil Xenikakis, Ioannis Hatzakis, Emmanouil Christakis andothers. During the German Occupation, residents of Mythoi took part in the guerilla corpses of the United Resistance of Captain Bantouvas. In the battle of Symi, one of the most heroic figures was lost, Apostolos Vagionakis, who stood up to the enemy’s bullets for the ideals of our unsubdued Crete. They paid the price of their participation to the struggles during the German Occupation,as 4 persons were executed, including the old and bedridden Nikolaos Ioannou Christakis. The community of Mythoi is today a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra, in 1900 it had 360 Christian residents, in 1951 it had 423 and in 2001it had 287. In the north of Mythoi, around 6 km away, there is the settlementKarydi with the famous Monastery of Panagia (Our Lady) Karydiani and now abandoned summer residences. The mountainous settlement “Minos”, which is situated in a verdurous small plateau below the Afentis peak of the Lasithi mountains, also belongs to the Community of Mythoi.The village Mythoi is a lively village with a rich social and cultural life. It has a cultural association, a football team and field, and a modern olive press. The village’s square with its old plane trees, the mulberry trees, the old fountain,the traditional coffee-houses with the raki and the local dishes, is a place of reference for the residents of Mythoi. The sights, the wild natural landscapes in the north of the village, the famous gorge of Sarakina, a monument of natural beauty, attract a lot of local and foreign visitors. The gorge of Sarakina is one of the most beautiful in Crete. Its steep, vertical sides cause awe, and reach a height of up to 250 m. Its widest opening is no more than 15 m while in some places it’s so narrow that its sides seem joined. Its rich flora and fauna, dittany,the wild birds that nest there and the route inside the gorge are breath-taking. Its promotion is a foremost goal of the Local Department and the Municipality of Ierapetra, of the residents of the village, who head to the future with optimism and anticipation for the development of their place.
Source:The Municipality of Ierapetra.
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