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E4 walk along the spine of Crete
by Richard Ellis
at 24km (SW)
This is my log of the E4 long distance walk along the spine of Crete from East to West - it is intended to be a useful resource for others who are contemplating a similar walk along the E4 in Crete; it is not intended in any way to be a complete route guide.
at 24.3km (W)
Margarites (GR: Μαργαρίτες) with 300 inhabitants, is located 27 kilometers from Rethymnon at 300 m above sea level near the amcient town of Eleftherna. Margarites, is a village with Venetian roots, mentioned by sixteenth-century travellers. In the nineteenth century, Margarites was a flourishing town, whose centuries-old ceramic tradition began at least as early as the Ottoman period. Margarites is undoubtedly the most important pottery centre in western Crete.
Phourni Archaeological Site
at 24.4km (SE)
Excavations at Phourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until 1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase. Most of the funerary buildings were used for many decades and contain successive burials. Excavations were begun in 1964 by Efi and John Sakellarakis and have been continued until today (1995) with short interruptions. Most of the buildings are preserved in good condition.
E4 Trail: 09. Kiparisos to Rouvas
by Richard Ellis
at 24.6km (SE)
10th June- I packed up the tent early after a noisy night of competing dogs and was on the road by 0615. After 3 or 4 kilometres on a mix of dirt roads and tarmac roads, I managed to find the concrete road which is the official E4 (marked with paint on a concrete watertank) up from Pirgos and a couple of hours later I was in Venerato having a frappe in the café by the turn to Kerasia..
Time: 13.75 hrs.
Mov av 3.9 km/hr
Height overnight: 945m.
Max. height: 1600m
E4 Trail: 10. Trail: Three days' rest
by Richard Ellis
at 24.7km (S)
11th, 12th and 13th June- We had made camp in the yard beside the Aghios Ioannis chapel at Rouvas but, the following morning, it was quite clear that I wasn’t going to go any further on foot until the shin splint had settled down a bit. Minor surgery on the blisters exposed the full extent of those problems and I hung them out to dry in the sun while Triantafyllos went off looking for paths to put on his maps. I think I was lucky not to get infected blisters but Betadine is a great resource which I used extensively.
E4 Trail: 11. Trail: Rouvas to Nidha Plateau
by Richard Ellis
at 24.7km (S)
14th June- The walk up from Rouvas is quite straightforward; once you have walked back down the stream from the Rouvas picnic area and turned right (north) up the dry river bed for two hundred yards, you scramble up a short, easy rock section (well sign posted) before the path continues up through open oak woodland (the Rouvas Forest) heading first for the Duo Prinoi chapel, which has a water tap, and then later up and over a ridge, beyond which a small dry water course leads up a steep sided valley to the flat lands of the Nidha plateau.
Time: 4.75 hrs.
Mov av 3.7 km/hr
Height overnight: 1,360m.
The School at Ano Archanes
at 24.9km (SE)
An excellent specimen of a specialized building, one of the first structures erected during the period of the Cretan State. It was designed by the architect Salivero, one of Prince George's officials. The plans were completed in 1901 and the construction was accomplished thanks to donations of rich Archanians living in the U.S.A. The building is Pi-shaped in plan, has two storeys and a basement, it is built of stone and its roof is partially wooden and covered with tiles.
It is a monumental but well balanced structure with many harmonic and elegant Neoclassical features. Since its construction, the building has been used as a school. During the German occupation it housed General Muller's division.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
at 25.1km (E)
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.
Archanes Archaeological collection
at 25.1km (SE)
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes opened in 1993. It occupies an area of 570 square meters and it is located at the Tzami quarter in the center of the settlement. There, for the first time in Crete, the archaeological finds from a single site are exhibited. While the exterior spaces of the building were adapted to a tasteful ensemble, in resemblance with the impressive modesty of the environment and the traditional ochre and rosy colour tonations of Archanes. The interior was thus arranged as to accommodate the most modern mode of exhibition, especially attractive for the visitor.
at 25.4km (SE)
A small traditional town (~4000 people) 15 km south of Iraklion on the foot of the sacred mountain Yiouhtas. Renowned for its excellent wine (from the varieties: vilana, kotsifali and madilari) and the archaeolocical sites and caves.
In 1912, Xanthoudides noted the importance of Archanes, but Sir Arthur Evans was the first to characterize the site as palatial, declaring that Archanes was likely a Summer Palace for the Knossos kings. Spyridon Marinatos and N. Platon excavated minor areas in the region, but nothing supported Evans' theory. In 1964, J. Sakellarakis dug trial trenches at the Tourkoyeitonia site and uncovered the first evidence of a palace site. Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeaological Society under the supervision of John Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.
at 25.5km (S)
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 25.7km (W)
Eleftherna (Eleutherna GR: Ελεύθερνα) is located on the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, in the heartland of Crete, 25 km. southeastern of Rethymnon. It was inhabited continuously from the Sub-Neolithic period (4th millennium BC) down to the 12th cent. AD and its rich history is now summarized by five hundred selected artifacts unearthed from houses, shrines, public buildings and tombs.
at 26.3km (W)
The " Museum of ancient Eleutherna - Homer in Crete" , was created to accommodate the results of the excavations carried out for thirty years in the ancient city of Eleutherna (Eleftherna GR: Ελεύθερνα). It is a modern building approximately 1,800 sq.m. which together with the surrounding area occupies 3 acres and remotely resembles ark that emerges from the earth, gazing Ida (Psiloritis).
Minoan Megaron at Vathypetro
at 26.6km (SE)
The Minoan villa at Vathypetro was most likely the residence of a local ruler. Its architecture is comparable to that of a "Little Palace": it has a central and west court, a small tripartite shrine, a three-columned portico, storerooms and workshops. It seems that the construction of the building was never completed. Interesting elements of its architecture are the installations of a wine-press in the south wing and an oil-press in the courtyard.
Agios Thomas village
at 27.5km (S)
Agios Thomás (GR: Αγιος Θωμάς) lies at 530 m above sea level. It is 30 km away from Heraklion and has a panoramic view over the whole area to the SE of Aghia Varvara.
Agios Thomas is a very old village and the first reference we have of it, is in a document of 1371, where it is quoted as a feudal property of Petrus de Medio, and again in a document dated 1380. Later, it figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1881, and in 1900, it figures as part of the Megali Vrisi municipality, with 344 inhabitants. From 1920, it figures in all the censi as a community with a continuously growing number of inhabitants. Nowadays there are over 800 inhabitants.
at 27.6km (S)
This is one of Crete's most famous monasteries. It played an important role during the years of the Cretan Renaissance, both in the letters and the arts, and, during the last centuries of Venetian rule, it was known for its many scholars, artists and venerable monks.
Agia Varvara town
at 27.8km (S)
Agia Varvára (GR: Αγία Βαρβάρα) is a town built along the road between the Messara plain and the Malevizi region at the highest point (580 m).
The town enjoys a unique location with a splendid view into the Malevizi region, and a cool climate, particularly pleasant during the hot summer months. It produces first-rate fruit and vegetables.
Because of its strategic location on the main north-south axis, the town was often exposed to fierce battles. A famous warrior, Mathiou Kapitakis or Mathioudakis was born here: he fought side to side with Karaiskakis and was killed at Faliro. His comrade-in-arms, Logios, was the hero of Aghios Thomas.
As you reach the village, on the north side there is a rock with a chapel dedicated to Profitis Ilias. On this rock -which used to be twice as large but part of it fell off at the beginning of the 19th century- there used to be an ancient temple.
Nowadays, the visitor can find every kind of commodity and facility on hand at the modern town of Aghia Varvara. In summer a special 'tsikoudia' feast, and in early spring a carnival feast are organized by the Cultural Association of the town.
At the centre of the town, there are two churches - one old and one new - both dedicated to the patron saint, Aghia Varvara. Three Byzantine churches are also well worth a visit: Profitis Ilias, Aghios Giorgos and Aghios Ioannis, and of course the old monastery of Aghia Pelagia by the cemetery.
Nirou Chani, North - East Iraklion
at 27.8km (E)
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
Voriza, South - West Iraklion
at 28.3km (S)
Close historical bonds link this monastery to that of Vrontisiou. The Varsamonerou Monastery lies in the surrounding fields of the village Voriza, 54.5 kms from Heraklion. The monastery is abandoned and, though its cells have been destroyed, its church has some of the most remarkable wall paintings in Crete.
North - East Iraklion
at 28.3km (E)
Kokkíni Cháni (Kokkíni Háni - GR: Κοκκίνη Χάνι) is a beach resort located 14km east of the city of Heraklion, on the old national road from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos.
The beach from Vatheianos Kambos, to the west, to Gournes, to the east, is protected by small piers that in some places form small lagoons. It has fine sand and it is clean and well cared, with umbrellas and sun chairs, lifeguards and sea sports.
The central street is lined with taverns, restaurants, bars, shops etc while the seaside street is less busy and ideal for walking.
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