Crete : Regional Interest
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Prophitis Ilias Town
at 0km (N)
The town of Profitis Ilias (GR: Προφήτης Ηλίας), or Roka for the locals, is found 20km south of Heraklion It is built on the top of two hills offering an unforgettable view to the surrounding areas. A natural fortification, due to its position, it has been suggested that ancient Lycastos was built here. It is also known as Kandli Kasteli due to the castle located at the summit of a rock southeast of the town.
Nikiforos Fokas built the Byzantine castle of Temenos in the same location in 961 when he freed the island from the Saracens. His objective was to bring the city of Hantaka (Heraklion) into the castle of Temenos. However, this did not materialize and the city remained were it was. In the thirteenth century the castle of Temenos was occupied by the Genoese Pescatore, and later by the Venetians. The name Kanli Kastelli in Turkish means blood-painted castle, and took its name from a massacre of Turks by the Venetians and Greeks that took place here in 1647.
Minoan Megaron at Vathypetro
at 4.5km (E)
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.
Phourni Archaeological Site
at 6.6km (NE)
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.
Anemospelia Archaeological Site
at 6.6km (NE)
Anemóspilia (GR: Aνεμόσπηλια). Anemospilia is an archeological site at the northern foot of Mount Yuchtas, in the prefecture of Heraklion in Crete. A rectangular building has been found which dates from the Minoan era and was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century BC.
The building with three narrow chambers, each opening into a long corridor to the north, which extends along the whole width of the building. The area is enclosed with a stone wall and the whole structure has been interpreted as a shrine; in the central room was found a "xoanon" (statue) of the deity worshiped here. In the west room, where the altar stood, was uncovered, according to the excavator, the first human sacrifice to have ever taken place in Minoan times. (although this view has been challenged).
The building at Anemospelia was used for only half a century, as it was suddenly destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the 17th century B.C. The site was excavated in the summer of 1979 by John Sakellarakis.
Minoan Religion (Foundation of the Hellenic World)
at 6.7km (NE)
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.
Agios Myron town
at 7km (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.
at 7.3km (NW)
Petrokéfalo (GR: Πετροκέφαλο) lies 16km from Iraklion and 3km from Agios Myron at 340m a.s.l with 248 inhabitants.
It is built on a rocky hillside. The hill' shape resembles to a human head and it is supposed that the village owes its name to this (petrokefali = stone head) .
The settlement was fortified and lately were discovered significant ancient findings.
The patron Saint is "Agia Paraskevi" and there is a village feast on the 8th September in her honour.
at 7.5km (W)
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 7.5km (SW)
Doúli (GR: Δούλι) is a village in Kenouriou county, located 38 km from Iraklion at an altitude of 440 m above sea level.
The earliest reference to it, is to be found in the Duke's Archives of 1372, where it is mentioned as the feudal property of Nic. Venerio. The name figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in the Turkish (1671) and Egyptian (1834) censi. In 1881, Douli forms part of the municipality of Megali Vrisi with about 170 inhabitants, and again in 1900 with only 21 inhabitants.
As of 1920, Douli is a commune in its own right, and today Douli has about 240 residents. The patron saint of the village is Aghios Panteleimonas and the feast of the Saint is celebrated on July 27th.A visit to the old church of Aghios Nikolaos is also a must. For those interested in paleontology, there are fossils to be found at the location 'Pirgos'.
at 8.1km (NW)
Pentamódi (GR: Πενταμόδι)one of the oldest villages in Crete, is located in the valley of Gazanos river, 17km from Iraklion and 4km from Agios Myron at 350m a.s.l with 278 inhabitants.
At "Agia Paraskevi" a place with rich vegetation are organized every summer a series of cultural festivals.
A fountain of the 15th century with the blazon of the house of "Quirini" is one of the significant monuments of the area.
The patron Saint is "Agios Nikolaos" and there is a village feast on the 26th July in his honour.
Agios Thomas village
at 9km (SW)
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.
Kato Asites village
at 9.2km (W)
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 .
Ano Asites village
at 9.4km (W)
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.
at 10km (W)
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.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
at 10.3km (E)
The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum is dedicated to the great Greek writer, poet and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis. It was founded in 1983 and it is located at the village Myrtia in Iraklion, next to his father's house.
The museum contains some of his personal belongings (pipes, glasses, pens, etc.) and a rich collection of his manuscripts and letters, first Greek editions of his books, documents from theatrical productions of his works, copies of TV series and movies based on his novels, portraits of Nikos Kazantzakis, copies of press releases and articles on his life and work.
Malevizi, North - West Iraklion
at 11km (W)
Kroussónas (GR: Κρουσώνας) is an historical town built in a semi-circle on the eastern slopes of the Psilortis (the highest mountain in Crete), between the hills of Koupos and Livadiotis, at 460 meters above sea-level. It is at a distance of 21 kilometres from Heraklion. A magnificent 10kms route, ideal for nature-lovers is that from Kroussonas to the wood of Vromonero at 1300m a.s.l.
at 11.1km (SW)
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 11.2km (SW)
Megali Vrissi (GR: Μεγάλη Βρύση) lies 32km south of Heraklion, at 620 m above sea level.
In the Barozzi document of 1577, it is mentioned as forming part of the province of Monofatsi and, in the Archives of Megalo Kastro (Heraklion), it is quoted in 1583 as having 71 inhabitants; there is also a reference to the village in the Basilicata document of 1630. The Turkish census records it with 47 families in 1671, and in the Egyptian one in 1834, it figures with 27 families. In the censi of 1881 and 1900 it is mentioned as a municipality in its own right with, respectively, 240 inhabitants and 307 inhabitants.
As of 1928, it becomes a commune and today it counts over 900 inhabitants. Saint Constantine is the patron saint of the village.
The churches of Aghia Anna and of the Panagia Almiri are worth visiting.
The Aeolian Park, one of the islands pioneering projects, has been installed in Megali Vrisi and produces electricity of 5MW.
Palace and Archaeological site
at 11.4km (NE)
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...
Agia Varvara town
at 11.7km (SW)
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.
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