THE MUNICIPALITY OF ASTEROUSSIA



Introduction
Map of the area
Villages
Excursions
Photos
Subject (Photo)
Map of the Prefecture








The Municipality of Asteroussia, is located in the prefecture of Heraklion,and it lies to the SE between the village of Charaki (38 km from Heraklion), situated on the borderline of the municipality of N. Kazantzakis to the north, and the Lybian sea to the south.
The municipality includes beautiful beaches such as Pera Tsoutsouras, Maridaki, Ai Nikitas, and Tris Ekklisies.
The municipalities of Kofinas and Arkalochori to the west and to the east respectively, mark the other two borders of the municipality of Asteroussia which extends over 204 square kilometres and has a population of some 7000 inhabitants.
It includes 11 former communities and 22 villages of different sizes.
The county town, which lies about 50 km away from Heraklion on the Heraklion - Choudetsi - Tefeli - Praetoria - Pirgos road, is Pirgos with 1100 inhabitants.

HOW TO GET THERE

Public transport is available from Heraklion at the KTEL bus station down by the port. The bus leaves at regular intervals of an hour or so and takes the road towards Knossos and Peza, where it takes a right turn towards Choudetsi, Tefeli, Praetoria and Pirgos.
Another route for those in the south of the island is via Mires to Aghii Deka, turning right to Gangales, Asimi, Praetoria and Pirgos.
The road network that links the county town with Heraklion, Mires and with all the other villages in the municipality is tarred and in good condition. However, the roads leading to the south coast and the lovely beaches (with the exception of Pera Tsoutsouras) are dirt roads, thereby adding a sense of adventure to the beautiful ride.

FACILITIES

The county town is equipped with every type of facility required both by the inhabitants and/or the visitors:
Public Services, Health Centre, hotels, restaurants, tavernas, shops of all kinds and banks.
There are sleeping facilities at Pera Tsoutsouras and Tris Ekklisies and there are tavernas on every beach.
You will find refreshments in every village (coffee, cold drinks), and can always count on finding some sort of light meal as well.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

This region has been inhabited since ancient times and archaeological excavations have brought interesting Geometric, Greek and Roman finds to light in the Tsoutsouras bay where the ancient town of Inata was located.
Another ancient town mentioned in Homer was Rytiassos or Rytion, located at Rotasiani Kefala, the hill above the present-day village of Rotasi.

WHAT TO SEE

The Asteroussia region has more than her share of natural beauties: the beaches of Pera Tsoutsouras, of Maridaki, of Ai Nikita with its imposing palm forest, and of Tris Ekklisies, as well as the gorges of Aba in Paranymfoi with pretty waterfalls, that of Ethia and Mesochorio, the wooded area around Pirgos and the heights of Afendi Christos at Charaki. Visitors should spend some time during their holidays in Crete to discover all these magnificent sites.

EXCURSIONS

For nature lovers, the Asteroussia region has secret places where manís presence is almost invisible. We recommend two excursions:


The road is rough in both cases, and you need a strong and in good condition vehicle to get you there; if on the other hand you prefer to walk, the natural beauty surrounding, will reward your efforts.
Donít forget to have your video camera with you, or at least a camera with several films.

FIRST EXCURSION :
PIRGOS - CHARAKAS -PARANYMFOI -TRIS EKKLISIES

Leave Pirgos and take the road to Charakas and Paranymfoi in a SW direction. The road winds up the north side of the Asteroussia mountains. A panoramic view, with part of the Messara plain and some of the villages of the Monofatsi region, extends behind you. For the first 11 km as far as Paranymfoi, the road is paved. Take a rest, visit the village, have a cold drink or a raki at any one of the cafe to summon up your energy before plunging down the south side of the Asteroussia mountains towards the Lybian sea. The drive on a dirt road is of 13 km to Tris Ekklisies and to some of the most unspoiled beaches in Crete.
800 m out of Paranymfoi, at Aba, it is worth your while to leave your car and walk along a stream lined with oleanders for about 200 m. A breathtaking view unfolds in front of you, down to the coast, beyond the settlement of Tris Ekklisies, and as far as the beach of Koudoumas in the Martelos headland.
Leaving Aba, continue to the south through a varied landscape. You will enjoy the sight of small waterfalls, springs, flocks of goats and sheep and artistically built stone sheepfolds.
Not to mention the ubiquitous isolated small chapels that dot the landscape here and there.
Voidomatos is the first beach you come to, and half a kilometre further on you arrive at Tris Ekklisies where you can find rooms to stay and several tavernas where they serve fresh fish and traditional Cretan dishes. You will also find the traditional Greek kapheneion on the beach.
To the west lies the beautiful sandy beach of Pachia Ammos.
On your way back to Paranymfoi, donít forget to visit the chapel of Aghios Pavlos with its 14th century wall paintings.

SECOND EXCURSION :
PIRGOS - ACHENTRIAS - AI NIKITAS - FOINIKODASOS (PALM FOREST) - MARIDAKI

Leave Pirgos in a SE direction. Follow the Rotasi-Mesochorio road signs.
After about 2 km you will reach Rotasi, which Homer called Rytion. Here you have a choice: either continue to Mesochorio and Achentrias on a paved road, or else turn right and reach Achentrias through Ethia. We recommend the second route in spite of the two km of dirt road before reaching Achentrias. In any case, you will be taking a dirt road after Achentrias.
Driving up towards Ethia, you will leave behind you a splendid view over a large area of the Monofatsi valley. Ethia, 10 km away, is a typical Cretan village with stone houses and a taverna where you can have a refreshing raki and some traditional Ďmezedesí (tit-bits).
And now the beautiful drive down to the coast of the Lybian sea begins. Very soon -2 km- you arrive at the pretty village of Achentrias and for the next 24 km you take a dirt road down through beautiful landscape along the south side of the Asteroussia mountains.
You will find yourself so overwhelmed by the breathtaking view that you will stop to take photos or videofilm the rare bird species or the huge cliffs. The sea spreads out in front of you during the drive down which takes you through springs, herds of goats, traditional sheepfolds, isolated chapels, impressive rocks towering over steep ravines that are covered in greenery.
4 km out of Achentrias you will see a sign pointing to the beach of Pera Tsoutsouras to your left, 9 km away, and to your right to the beaches of Maridaki and Ai Nikitas.
After this turn to the right the wonderfully eroded wild rocks and ravines will take your breath away.
A sign 10 km further down points to Maridaki to the Left, a lovely sandy beach with a crystal clear sea and lots of fresh running water.
Tavernas and a kapheneion on the beach will soon refresh you.
The monastery of Ai Nikitas lies to the right of the sign and is just 1 km away. There you will welcome Cretan hospitality enjoying some fruit and a cup of Greek coffee. You will also be shown the monasteryís church built in the rock. The view from Ai Nikitas to the East towards Tsoutsouras, Dermato and Keratokampos is particularly lovely.
On the other side of the monastery you can reach the Ai Nikitas beach where you can swim and go fishing.
300 m to the west of the monastery you will come upon the chapel of Agios Antonios which is set in a unique landscape of palm trees and carob trees.
Down by the sea there is a series of small inlets where you can enjoy a quiet swim.
On your return, you can avoid part of the dirt road by taking the turn to Tsoutsouras where you will find a more organized sea-side resort with mini markets, hotels and restaurants.

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