Crete : History & Archaeology
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Polyrinia ancient town
archaeological site in Kissamos
at 7.7km (NW)
Polyrinia (GR: Πολυρρήνια) was one of the most important cities-states of the Western Crete.It was built amphitheatrically on top of the hill (418 m altitude) with a commanding view of both the Cretan and the Libyan sea, located 49 km from Hania and 6 km from Kissamos . The history of Polyrinia starts in the Minoan period and continues to the present day.
Elyros, Ancient city
at 15km (SE)
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.
Gonia Monastery & Museum
at 17.4km (N)
The monastery of Gonia (GR: Μονή Γωνιάς) or Panagia Odigitria, is located 1 km north of Kolimbari (along the Spatha penninsula) and 24 km from the city of Chania in a wonderful place with a magnificent view to the bay of Hania. It was built in the 17th century, in the Venetian fortress style, and it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.
The monastery replaced an older, 13th-century structure, which was located on the territory of an adjacent cemetery.
Hryssoskalitissa, Kissamos South West
at 19km (SW)
The monastery of Chryssoskalitissa (golden stair GR: Χρυσοσκαλίτισα) is dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother and the Holy Trinity. It is located at the southwest part of Kissamos, 70km away from Chania. The fortress like monastery is built on a rock and pilgrims visiting have to follow a staircase carved on it with 98 steps. According to the tradition, the last one was made of gold but only faithful people could see it.
Ancient town in Selino, South Hania
at 19.3km (S)
Located ~2.3km west of Sougia it was the religious centre of the cities in south-west Crete and the port of Elyros. It flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In 1957-58 Asklepieion was excavated by N. Platon. The most important monuments of the site are: The Temple of Asklepios, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Part of a Roman theatre, Rock-cut and built chamber tombs.
There two byzantine chapels dedicated to Our Lady and Agios Kirikos
The beach in the small cove has coarse pebbles and clear waters.
Lissos (GR: Λισσός) nowadays is uninhabited and can be reached from Sougia only by foot (~1& 1/2 hours walk) or by boat (~20 minutes).
South west Kissamos
at 21.5km (SW)
Elafonissi is a small islet on the southwest of Crete. It is connected to the beach with a shallow reef (max. depth 1 meter) that allows crossing when the sea is calm. There are only a couple of cantinas on the beach and plenty of places for camping. The place can be accessed by car from the village of Vathi or by boat from Paleohora. There are no permanent inhabitants.
at 24.7km (E)
Thérisso (GR: Θέρισο) is a small village, built on the foot of the White mountains, at 580 m a.s.l, 20km south of the city of Hania. It has 156 inhabitants and it is famous for its physical beauty, its diary-farming and its glorious past.
You can reach Therisso from Perivolia passing through the Canyon (good asphalt road), or from Drakona, crossing the 7km dirt road through the forest.
From here starts the trekking path which leads to the highest peak of the White mountains, Pahnes (2452m)
Due to its location Therisso played a significant role at the history of the island especially during the 19th Century. A mill's stone located at the entrance of the village reminds the death of a young woman (grinded alive), when she denied to surrender to Mustafa Pasha.
Here were born the great Cretan revolutionaries (Hainis), Vassilis, Giannis and Stefanos Halis. Vassilis Halis, became a hainis very young, and participated to the most great battles against the Turks in Crete and Peloponnissos. He was lt General when he died at Nafplion (Peloponnissos) in 1846.
But Therisso is mostly known for its relation with the Venizelos movement in March 1905. Venizelos, who dissented with prince George' policy and declared the Union of Crete with Greece, had his headquarters at Therisso. The house of Venizelos is today a museum.
The visitor to Therisso will admire the natural beauty, learn a lot of the history of the place listening to various stories and looking at the historical monuments, and taste the local specialties at the lovely taverns of the village.
2,5 km north of Therisso, at the left bank of Kladissos river, there is a cave where signs of neolithic and Minoan habitation were discovered. It is believed that it was a worship place.
Gramvoussa island & Fort
Gramvoussa Cape, Kisssamos
at 25.8km (NW)
Due to its strategic location, Gramvoussa was fortified by the Venetians, who built a well-fortified castle on the top of a steepy rock at an altitude of 137 m. Construction on the castle of Gramvoussa started in 1579 and ended in 1582.
at 28.7km (E)
The village of Mournies is a principal village, located 3.8 km south of Hania at 40m a.s.l. It took the name "Mournies" from the numerous mulberry trees, that use to be here even today. At the beginning of the 17th century, Mournies was famous for its beautiful villas, belonging to local noblemen. One of them, located southeast of the village, was the imposing three storey villa of "Koukounara". It had beautiful flowery gardens, fountains, statues ..., a real paradise, where many famous persons were received hospitality, amongst them the glorious Mme Ortans, the empress Eugene of Napoleon the third, queen Olga of Greece, and the king Constantinos in 1913. The villa today, being restored, houses a department of the Geek Navy.
Mournies was the birth place of one of the greatest statesman of the new Hellenic Republic, Eleftherios Venizelos. Venizelos' influence on the history of Greece was paramount, from his participation to the talks with the Ottomans that resulted to granting Crete independence in 1897, to the final union of Crete with Greece in 1913. The house of Venizelos located in Mournies is going to be a museum, and many personal items of the politician are going to be on display there.
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