Kritsa (GR: Κριτσά) 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.
In Kritsa 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.
Three of its fountains and one paved alleyway are officialy characterised as historical monuments as they are typical examples of the traditional architecture and directly connected with the history of Krista and the memories of local residents.
1)The Fountain in Koutsounari. It is a simple stone construction in arched form.
2)The Fountain in Kavvoussa. With a twin arched facade.
3)The Fountain in Chaniotena. It was used for watering the animals. Built in the typical apsidal form of small Cretan fountains.
4)The only original alleyway (kalderimi) that is left in the town and connects its center with the plains.
In the summertime the town is being visited by hundreds of tourists every day. The main street becomes a sea of colour with tablecloths, rugs and other goods hanging outside many of the shops. Pottery, leather goods and general tourist souvenirs may also be found.
Visitors enjoy walking in the town's neighborhoods with the old houses and the flowery yards, through the narrow streets.
At the town's square (Plateia) there are tarditional cafes (Kafeneion) bars and taverns.
For those wishing to stay in the village there are a couple of small hotels and apartments for rent, allowing for a more leisurely time in which to visit the local sights as most visitors leave as the evening comes.
Kritsa produces one of the most distinguished virgin olive oils in Crete and Greece. It is processed and bottled by the local Agrarian cooperative and is internationally awarded for its quality and taste.
A traditional oil press, that stands in the premises, demonstrates the old way of oil extracting and olive harvesting offering also the visitors the chance to taste the excellent produce of the area.
In 1956 Julles Dassin and Melina Merkouri
chose to film in Kritsa the film "The Greek Passion" (Celui qui doit mourir) based on the novel of Nikos Kazantzakis "Christ Recrucified"
, starring Melina Merkouri
The locals helped a lot in the filming and, as is said, many of them perfomed as real actors. Anyway the elderly still remember those happy days and have many stories to say.
Its also believed that the film was a first class advertisement for the whole area and helped for the tourist development that followed a few years later.
Near the town, 4km to the north, are the ruins of the ancient Greek city "Lato"
, whose port was the "Lato pros Kamara"
or "Lato Etera"
(the other Lato) in Agios Nikolaos. "Lato" must have been built during the Archaic period (7th century B.C.), and it was famous as one of the most powerful towns in Crete, with two acropolies.
The city still preserves its main entrance. Archaeological excavations have brought to light shops, houses, a sanctuary, a temple and a theatre. The view to the Mirabello bay and the Lasithian mountains from this spot, is enchanting.
The gorge of Kritsa starts a little to the north of the village and ends after 13km at the village of Tapes.
The entrance of the canyon near Kritsa is impressive, as the mountain is torn in two, shaping the narrow passage of Havgas.
The path is in general easy apart from a few narrow (~1.5m wide) points with big rocks that the visitors should climb over. Passing the gorge should also be avoided in or right after rainy days because small ponds could block the passage.
A little after the entrance the gorge becomes even more impressive, with very narrow passages and tall walls that hide the sun. It is a masterpiece of nature, which is worth a visit especially in spring, when flowers bloom and there is still a little running water.
After a while, the canyon widens and the rocks begin to lower, until a beautiful valley, full of olive groves, is formed. From there, the path follows the riverbed for about 1 & 1/2 hours, and reaches the beautiful village of Tapes.
Information and photo from
From Kritsa there is an interesting and spectacular climb to the plateau of Katharo
. It is possible to go by car or on foot following an old path ( 3 & 1/2 hours walk).
One km. before the village, in the site named "Logari"
is the old Byzantine church of "Panagia Kera"
, with unique in technique and importance Byzantine frescoes (14th and 15th century).