Crete : Regional Interest
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Nirou Chani, North - East Iraklion
at 0km (N)
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
North - East Iraklion
at 0.4km (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.
at 2.7km (E)
The CretAquarium - Thalassocosmos (GR: Θαλασσόκοσμος) was officially opened in December 2005. It provides its visitors with a special experience, a trip to the underwater world of the Mediterranean Sea and its creatures. It is a unique park whose focus is on science, education, culture and recreation and whose goal is to promote, share and spread knowledge concerning the marine environment.
Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC)
at 2.8km (E)
A modern competitive organisation, IMBBC (part of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research - www.hcmr.gr) is widely recognized as one of the leading institutes in the Mediterranean. Its installations are located at Gournes, near Heraklion, Crete, where its laboratories, administration, library and conference facilities cover 1.500 m2. It has a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities needed to carry out its basic and applied research.
at 4.7km (W)
This 2 km long sandy beach was for years and still is the favorite beach of the people of Heraklion town. It is named after the river "Karteros" which outflows at the west end of it near the airport. The water is clean, the seabed is sandy with smoothly shelving and swimming is safe. The access is free in most parts except for some areas that are reserved for military personnel and the municipal beach "Akti" where visitors should pay an entrance fee in order to use the facilities. At the east end there are some very good taverns offering fresh fish among their specialties and are very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Gouves Beach, North - East Iraklion
at 5km (E)
Káto Goúves (GR: Κάτω Γούβες or simply Gouves) is a modern tourist resort with a complete tourist infrastructure to meet all demands. Organised beaches, large modern hotels, family apartments, restaurants, small tavernas, recreation centres, sports centre, shops, car and motorbikes for rent, small ports (marinas) for small boats, in a word Kato Gouves provides everything the visitors require to spend an agreeable and carefree holiday, enjoying the sunshine by day and the thrilling night-life in the numerous bars in the area.
Just a few kilometers inland there are picturesque traditional villages, historic monasteries, caves and other natural beauties.
Agia Paraskevi Cave
at 5.1km (SE)
This is one of the three largest caves in the prefecture of Heraklion. It lies at half an hour distance to the north-west from the village of Skotino and is at a height of 225 m. above sea-level. The entrance to the cave is impressive: a large arch, 27 m wide and 10 m high. To the right one can see the ruins of an ancient chapel on which the modern chapel dedicated to Aghia Paraskevi was built. There is a feast held in front of the chapel on July 26th .
Gouves (Pano) Village
at 6km (E)
Pano Gouves (GR: Πάνω Γούβες) is a village of the district of Pediada in the prefecture of Iraklion at a height of 100 metres above sea-level. It lies twenty kms away from Iraklion, to the right at 17.3 kms on the National Road to Aghios Nikolaos. The village is built on the western flanks of the Ederi hill (322 m.). The name comes from "edera" which means ivy and symbolises affection.
The name Gouves, on the other hand, comes from Gouva and means a hollow in the earth. It also means, in Crete, a hole in which during the middle ages, people stored their wheat.
The earliest reference we have of the village is that of "Guves" in 1387 documents of the Duke’s archives in Chandax. Later on, in 1577, Fr. Barozzi mentions "Guvos" in the district of Pediados, and then "Guves" in the 1583 Register, with 252 inhabitants. Finally, in 1630, Vassilikata refers to "Vuves’.
This is the birthplace of the poet Ioannis Konstantinidis.
There are several outstanding churches in the village, among them: Zoodochos Pigis, Aghios Giorgos, Aghios Ioannis and Panayia (dedicated to the birth of Our Lady).
at 6.3km (SE)
At a height of 140m. above sea-level, this village has 142 inhabitants and is 22.5 kms away from Iraklion. According to the villagers, the name comes from the church of Aghios Nikolaos Skotino at the entrance of a cave. It was built at the end of the Venetian period. Today an extra wing has been added, dedicated to Aghios Charalambos. This church of Aghios Nikolaos Skotino presumably functioned as a "Hedge School" (or "Hidden School") under Turkish rule when education had been banned. When the locals said: "We are going to Skotino (which also means "darkness")", they meant they were going to school.
Turkish administration refers to this place as Skotino Perasma in 1671.
Very close to the village (1.5 km) the cave of Aghia Paraskevi draws crowds of tourists and is well worth a visit.
at 6.8km (SE)
Vorou (or Voritsi) lies at a height of 230 m. above sea-level and counted 62 inhabitants in 1981 and 48 in 2001. It is 25 kms away from Heraklion. To get there, you follow the National Road to Aghios Nikolaos and at kms 17.7 turn right, taking the road Gouves-Skotino- Vorou. Nowadays it is known as Voritsi but this name is not official. The name Vorou, on the other hand, in the district of Pediados is mentioned by Barozzi in 1577. At the beginning of this century there lived a wise man and a healer in the village of Voritsi. His name was Giorgos Konstantoulakis and people flocked from all over to Crete to seek his advice.
International Airport Nikos Kazantzakis
Iraklion ( Nea Alikarnassos)
at 7km (W)
Heraklion International Airport, "Nikos Kazantzakis" (Greek: Κρατικός Αερολιμένας Ηρακλείου, "Νίκος Καζαντζάκης") or Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport (IATA: HER, ICAO: LGIR) is the primary airport on the island of Crete, Greece. It is located about 5km from the main city of Heraklion.
Heraklion International Airport is is one of the biggest in Greece and receives approximately 15% of the total tourist traffic of Greece. There are many airlines currently operating flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Iraklion (Olympic Airways, Aegean Airlines and others), while during the high season there are flights from/to Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini and other Greek islands. There are also international airlines that connects Iraklion to other European cities. During the summer season there are numerous chartered flights to Iraklion from all over Europe (mainly Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Holland). During the summer months there is a huge increase in air traffic that peaks in August (approximately 130 flights per day).
Major car-rental companies have desks at the airport. Taxi and public bus are available for transfer from/to Iraklion.
Kyra Eleoussa Monastery
at 7km (SE)
Kyra Eleoússa (GR: Κυρά Ελεούσα) Monastery is located close to the village Voroú or Voritsi. Due to its historical value the monastery and the outside area which covers 1000m has acquired protected status. Kyra Eleoussa is built according to feudal architectural style, and despite some interventions over the years it maintains many original architectural features. It is first referred in a document dating from 1606. At first it belonged to the monastery of Agia Ekaterini of Sinai but later it became part of Agarathos monastery.
Palace and Archaeological site
at 8.7km (SW)
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...
North - Central Crete
at 10km (W)
Iraklion (Heraklion or Herakleion GR: Ηράκλειον) is the largest urban centre in Crete, the capital of the region and the economic centre of the island. The first European civilisation, the Minoan civilisation, flourished on this land 5000 years ago. Currently the population of Iraklion is approximately 150.000 people. It is a very dynamic and cosmopolitan town, particularly during the summer period when thousands of visitors can be seen shopping in the market or visiting the museums and other places of interest. Today Heraklion is the top choice for tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. The city is also the commercial and scientific centre of the island. During the last 20 years the city has made remarkable progress in the academic and technological fields...
Kalo Horio Village
at 10km (SE)
At a height of 320 m above sea-level, Kalo Chorio (GR: Καλό Χωριό) λιεσ 25.7 kms. from Heraklion, to the right at the cross-roads at km 16.7 on the National Road to Agios Nikolaos and on the road to Gouves- Koxare- Kalo Chorio.
The present name does not figure in old Venetian documents, though there is a reference in the 1367 Duke’s archives of Chandax to a Kalo Horio, without however naming the district. The villagers maintain that the village was called Stravorina in the old days, and indeed there is a reference by Barozzi in 1577 to a village Stravorina in the district of Pediados. In the 1583 Register, the village Stravorina is mentioned as having 76 inhabitants and in the Turkish census of 1671 Istavrine is quoted as having 21 "charatsa" (A Turkish word referring to a tax paid by the head of each family; hence 21 families). However, Chourmouzis Vizantios in 1842 mentions Kalo Chorio, the present name was therefore given in the decade 1830-1840. The village counted 298 inhabitants in 1981 which is also the current population.
The Maza hill-top, south-east of the village, is 457 metres high. According to archaeologists (among them the famous N. Platon) and on the basis of recent finds, the name Maza comes from pre-Hellenic years and means Mother Earth. The pile of stones on the hill was, according to N.Platon, a town from the 10th to the 8th c. BC. The highest part was undoubtedly used as a shrine in Middle-Minoan years, and clay figurines and offerings were found there. The shrine lay quite close to the town. The shrine stopped being used in Proto-Geometric years.
Northeast of the village, by the country road that leads from Kasteli to Hersonissos, traces of ancient installations have also been found along with remnants of water tanks by a source that is still in use today. These water tanks, probably belonged to Hersonissos aqueduct, parts of which are still visible today in Aposelemi valley.
There is as well an interesting gorge close to Kalo Chorio, in the valley of Aposselemis river, worth seeing for nature lovers.
Archaeological Museum of Herakleion
at 10.3km (W)
The most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and completeness is housed in this museum. The exhibiton of the museum is organized in chronological order, ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman era (4th century A.D.) and geographically, according to the provenance of the finds.
Koules Venetian fortress (Castello del Molo )
Iraklion Venetian port
at 10.4km (W)
A seaside fortress situated at the entrance of the old harbour. It was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new Venetian fortification, in order to protect the pier and the port. It took its last shape in the years between 1523 - 1540 replacing another construction destroyed by an earthquake.
Agios Titos Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
at 10.5km (W)
With the recovery of Crete from Nikiforos Fokas (961AD), the seat of the bishopric is transferred from Gortyna to Chandakas, which became the capital of the island. The new cathedral, which is the most established and largest in the city, is dedicated to the Apostle Titos. Here, amongst other relics, there are gathered the Holy Skull of the Apostle and the miracle working icon of Messopapaditissas.
at 10.5km (SE)
The village of Smári (GR: Σμάρι) is a traditional Cretan village, only 10 km away from Kasteli and has 375 inhabitants.
In it you will find beautiful old stone houses that have been restored, picturesque little alleys, ruins of older buildings and pottery workshops where you can purchase copies of Byzantine and Minoan ceramics.
There are also some interesting churches with wonderful frescoes like the one dedicated to Sotir Christos, the Koimisi tis Panagias and Agios Giorgos.
The earliest reference to the village of Smari dates back to 1375.
There is a lively Cretan feast on July 20th in honour of Profitis Ilias, with much rejoicing, singing and dancing.
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition
at 10.8km (W)
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition of Byzantine Art and Ecclesiastical objects. A small sinaitic church of St. Catherine with a Basilica design, houses an exhibition with works of art from the Cretan renaissance. Among the exhibits are some of the most important icons of the Cretan School, ecclesiastical books and manuscripts, vestments, ecclesiastical vessels and relics, wall-paintings, wood-carvings and sculpture.
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