Crete : Regional Interest
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at 33.8km (E)
One of the most beautiful parts of the hinterland of Ierapetra is occupied by the picturesque village of Kalamafka. It is situated on the edge of the Lassithi mountains, an area known for its impressive diversity in landscape. Kalamafka sits at an altitude of 480 meters, 15 kilometers from the town of Ierapetra and 25 kilometers from Agios Nikolaos.
Kalamafka is a picturesque, large, and prosperous village surrounded by unique natural beauty. The springs at Kefalovryso, with its plane trees and lush vegetation, as well as its old historical churches, gorges, and springs, attract visitors due to the oasis-like coolness it offers in this otherwise dry and hot region. The village's wealth lies in its water sources and the vitality of its residents, who resist urbanization. Another reason for Kalamafka's enduring population is its advantageous location, as it is centrally positioned between the north and south coasts of the island, drawing daily visitors from Ierapetra and Agios Nikolaos.
History: The village derives its name from "Kali Afkla," a wooden channel that was once used to transfer water from one riverbank to another at the springs of Kefalovryso. Another explanation for the name is that the rock formation on Kastelos Hill resembles a Greek Orthodox priest's hat (kalymafki). Kalamafka, known as ancient Larisa, has been inhabited since the Minoan era. In the Psathi area, along the road to Ierapetra, archaeological findings such as human skulls, clay pots, spearheads, and various grave goods from the sub-Minoan era have been discovered. The geographer Strabo mentions Kalamafka, ancient Larisa, as follows: "And in Crete there is the city of Larisa, which now is united with Ierapytna, and from which the plain below, called Larision, takes its name."
The god protector of ancient Larisa was Asclepius, and this is why the Medical Association of Lassithi has adopted the figure of a statuette discovered on the Kastelos peak, which overlooks the village and served as a peak sanctuary according to Mr. Michalis Pytikakis. Larisa was conquered around the 3rd century B.C. by Ierapytna, and its residents were relocated as per the terms of the treaty. Evidence from subsequent historical periods suggests that the Kalamafka area has been continuously inhabited due to the presence of the water sources of Kefalovryso. Place names like Kastelos, Mesokastela, and Larisakia attest to its historical significance.
Kastelos Hill, serving as the seat of a feudal lord during the Venetian rule, had 435 residents in 1583. It boasted several notable Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, along with numerous chapels. During the Turkish rule, it was a breeding ground for prominent chieftains like Nikolaos Foniadakis and Ioannis Baritakis. The village's history is marked by struggles and sacrifices that cannot be easily summarized.
Today, Kalamafka is a vibrant village with a growing population. It has a two-seat school, a nursery school, a cultural association, numerous coffee houses, and seven taverns. The natural landscape, often referred to as "Chinese" due to its small rock pillars with bonsais, stone formations, and Kastelos Hill with its 224 steps, is considered a monument of natural history. Kalamafka offers visitors a wealth of attractions, including caves, rock paintings, the Havgas gorge, an ancient olive press, and the churches of Saint John and Saint Anthony.
The taverns, shaded by plane trees and surrounded by running water, serve traditional and delicious local dishes, including the traditional "klostenios" halva and skyfomakarounes (local pasta). The sounds of the lyra, violin, and lute add to the ambiance, pleasing both locals and foreigners. There are indeed many compelling reasons to visit Kalamafka.
By Toby Robert
at 33.8km (NW)
Priniás (GR: Πρινιάς) is a small village located 35km southwest of Iraklion town and 4km from Agia Varvara, at a height of 610 m above sea level. The village of Prinias lies on the border of three regions: Malevizi, Kenouriou and Monofatsi, and is recorded as forming part of all three regions in the censi.
at 34.7km (W)
Léndas or Léntas (GR: Λέντας), positioned almost in the centre of Cretes' south coast, clusters around a pretty bay that's dominated by an enormous rock resembling a lion's head that juts into the sea on one side of the resort. The village offers most facilities you might need during your stay; a choice of tavernas, three or four directly on the beach, two or three bars, mini-markets and even an Internet café. There is a sand/shingle beach and the sea is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
at 34.7km (N)
At a height of 140m. above sea-level, this village has 142 inhabitants and is 22.5 kms away from Iraklion. According to the villagers, the name comes from the church of Aghios Nikolaos Skotino at the entrance of a cave. It was built at the end of the Venetian period. Today an extra wing has been added, dedicated to Aghios Charalambos. This church of Aghios Nikolaos Skotino presumably functioned as a "Hedge School" (or "Hidden School") under Turkish rule when education had been banned. When the locals said: "We are going to Skotino (which also means "darkness")", they meant they were going to school.
Turkish administration refers to this place as Skotino Perasma in 1671.
Very close to the village (1.5 km) the cave of Aghia Paraskevi draws crowds of tourists and is well worth a visit.
Lentas, South Iraklion
at 34.8km (W)
The first habitation of the site dates from the Neolithic and Early Minoan period (3rd millenium B.C.). In the late Classical period (beginning of the 4th century B.C.) the Gortynians established the sanctuary of Asklepios at the harbour. During the tremendous earthquake of 46 B.C. the city was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. In the Early Christian and Byzantine periods, a small settlement developed and the basilica was erected. The most important monuments of the site are:
The Temple of Asklepios., the "Treasury"., the Fountain, a large, three-aisled basilica, an Early Minoan settlement (2600-2000 B.C.), the West Stoa, the North Stoa, the Nymphaion and two large, mud-brick cisterns.
Agia Paraskevi Cave
at 35.4km (N)
This is one of the three largest caves in the prefecture of Heraklion. It lies at half an hour distance to the north-west from the village of Skotino and is at a height of 225 m. above sea-level. The entrance to the cave is impressive: a large arch, 27 m wide and 10 m high. To the right one can see the ruins of an ancient chapel on which the modern chapel dedicated to Aghia Paraskevi was built. There is a feast held in front of the chapel on July 26th .
at 35.7km (W)
A long beach west of Lendas on the south shores of Iraklion. The name is probably a corruption of Dysikos (GR: Δυσικός) which is the one to the west. There is a small settlement with taverns and accommodation complexes, mostly rooms and apartments for rent. Dyskos used to be popular with nudists and nature lovers in the past and even in present days nudism is tolerated in the western part of the beach. The beach has small pebbles and sand. Those who chose Dyskos for their holidays will have, among other things, the chance to explore the area by small walking tours and enjoy the magnificent sunset.
Ano Asites village
at 35.9km (NW)
Ano Asites (GR: Ανω Ασίτες) lies 24km from Iraklion and 6km from Agios Myron at 480m a.s.l with 423 inhabitants.
A big part of the surrounding area is covered by forest on the eastern side of the mountain Psiloritis.
Near the village there is the Byzantine chapel of Agios Antonios located in the ravine with the same name a place of exceptional natural beauty. From here passes the European Hiking Path (E4) which leads to the shelter "Prinos" ( of the Mountaineering Club of Iraklion - altitude 1100 m a.s.l.) located in a holly (=prinos) forest.
Pediada, North - East Iraklion
at 36km (NE)
The famous tourist resort with all types of accommodations. Great beaches and a lively party atmosphere particularly in August. Becomes pretty quiet and peaceful during the rest of the season and there is a nice and picturesque part of the old village that preserves the traditional character. Malia has also a significant agricultural production and is famous for its bananas, potatoes and bottled water.
Gouves (Pano) Village
at 36.1km (N)
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).
Kato Asites village
at 36.5km (NW)
Kato Asites (GR: Κάτω Ασίτες lies 23km from Iraklion and 5km from Agios Myron at 450m a.s.l with 1113 inhabitants. Beautiful town with traditional architecture especially the quarters "Notiko", "Prinos" and "Kastella" close to the monastery of Gorgolaini.
Other interesting sights are:
The thermae of the king of Prinias, The uninhabited settlement of Nisi with traditional houses, the caves "Lesta spilios" at Marias aloni, "Astirakou spilios", "Sarakina" and "Katsivli spilios" at Lyssogremia and "Melissa", The chapels of "Panagia" aged 800 years, "Agios Antonios" aged 1000 years, "Agios Georgios" and "Agia Paraskevi".
The patron Saint is "Agia Paraskevi" celebrated on the 26th July .
at 36.6km (NW)
Pyrgou lies 20 km from Iraklion and 1km from Agios Myron at 400m a.s.l with 354 inhabitants. It is built on a hillside overlooking the area, with panoramic view to the village of Kroussonas and the ravine of "Agia Irini".
At the village's perimeter there are well maintained tower-like houses.
at 36.7km (NE)
Kritsa is one of the most picturesque towns in Crete, built amphitheatrically on a rock hill. It is located 11 km from Agios Nikolaos and has 2000 inhabitants. The people keep the old Cretan customs and the traditions and the town is considered one of the most important centers of the Cretan folk and weaving art.
Palace and Archaeological site
at 36.8km (N)
The famous Palace of king Minos and the centre of the Minoan civilisation 5km south of Iraklion. The Great Palace covered an area of 20.000 sq. meters and had 1.400 rooms. Every section of the Palace had a specific use. In the west side of the Palace were the chambers of the ceremonies, of the administration and of the public storehouse...
Lychnostatis Folklore Museum
Hersonissos, Iraklion, Crete
at 36.9km (N)
The Cretan Open-air Museum 'Lychnostatis' aims to promote the understanding and awareness of the Cretan folk cultural heritage. Its scope lies on the Cretan Folk Tradition and Ethnology, the Cretan Nature and Environment and the Cretan Folk Culture. Located in Hersonissos, one of the principal tourist areas in Crete, the museum is, apart from a valuable tourist asset, an exemplary self - motivated conduct on tradition, culture and environment of the island.
Agios Myron town
at 36.9km (NW)
Agios Myron, with 708 inhabitants, lies 18 km from the city of Iraklion to the south west. Its one of the most important villages of the area with interesting town planning and impressive samples of traditional architecture. Built between two hills it commands a panoramic view and the school's clock, its main characteristic, is visible from almost everywhere in the area of Malevizi.
Panagia Kera of Kritsa
at 37.2km (NE)
The Panagia Kera of Kritsa, as it is called the Temple of the Virgin Mary (Kera), is 1 km to the north of the village of Kritsa in Merabello Lassithi, in a place called Logari, right on the road from Agios Nikolaos to Kritsa. The history of the church of Panayia Kera begins at least since the 13th century.
East Ida mountain, Iraklion
at 37.2km (NW)
Prinos refuge at Prinos on Psiloritis mountain (Ida), is at 1100 metres. It can sleep 25 people, it has cooking facilities, two wood burning stoves for heating and a rainwater tank. Access is through the village of Ano Assites in Malevizi around 22km from Iraklion. From there a two kilometres of dirt road leads to a place called Melisses and then a one-and-a-half hour walk along a footpath signed with red marks, to the refuge.
Prinos hut was built in 1962 and was renovated around 1992. It is run by the mountaineering club of Heraklion. The view from Prinos to the north and east is great.
at 37.4km (NW)
The monastery of Aghios Georgios the Gorgolainis (GR: Αγιος Γεώργιος Γοργολαΐνι) is located on an altitude of 400 m close to the Kato Asites village. It survived through several revolutions and wars during the Ottoman occupation.
Pediada, North - East Iraklion
at 37.6km (N)
The most popular tourist resort in Crete. Nice beaches, sights and facilities for all tastes and ages. Together with Malia, are the party places for young visitors. Close to Hersonissos there are three small traditional village, those of Piskopiano, Koutouloufari and Old Hersonissos.
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