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Kritsa 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. The 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.
One of the most beautiful parts of the hinterland of Ierapetra is occupied by the picturesque village of Kalamafka. It is situated on the edge of the Lassithi mountains, an area known for its impressive diversity in landscape. Kalamafka sits at an altitude of 480 meters, 15 kilometers from the town of Ierapetra and 25 kilometers from Agios Nikolaos.
Kalamafka is a picturesque, large, and prosperous village surrounded by unique natural beauty. The springs at Kefalovryso, with its plane trees and lush vegetation, as well as its old historical churches, gorges, and springs, attract visitors due to the oasis-like coolness it offers in this otherwise dry and hot region. The village's wealth lies in its water sources and the vitality of its residents, who resist urbanization. Another reason for Kalamafka's enduring population is its advantageous location, as it is centrally positioned between the north and south coasts of the island, drawing daily visitors from Ierapetra and Agios Nikolaos.
History: The village derives its name from "Kali Afkla," a wooden channel that was once used to transfer water from one riverbank to another at the springs of Kefalovryso. Another explanation for the name is that the rock formation on Kastelos Hill resembles a Greek Orthodox priest's hat (kalymafki). Kalamafka, known as ancient Larisa, has been inhabited since the Minoan era. In the Psathi area, along the road to Ierapetra, archaeological findings such as human skulls, clay pots, spearheads, and various grave goods from the sub-Minoan era have been discovered. The geographer Strabo mentions Kalamafka, ancient Larisa, as follows: "And in Crete there is the city of Larisa, which now is united with Ierapytna, and from which the plain below, called Larision, takes its name."
The god protector of ancient Larisa was Asclepius, and this is why the Medical Association of Lassithi has adopted the figure of a statuette discovered on the Kastelos peak, which overlooks the village and served as a peak sanctuary according to Mr. Michalis Pytikakis. Larisa was conquered around the 3rd century B.C. by Ierapytna, and its residents were relocated as per the terms of the treaty. Evidence from subsequent historical periods suggests that the Kalamafka area has been continuously inhabited due to the presence of the water sources of Kefalovryso. Place names like Kastelos, Mesokastela, and Larisakia attest to its historical significance.
Kastelos Hill, serving as the seat of a feudal lord during the Venetian rule, had 435 residents in 1583. It boasted several notable Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, along with numerous chapels. During the Turkish rule, it was a breeding ground for prominent chieftains like Nikolaos Foniadakis and Ioannis Baritakis. The village's history is marked by struggles and sacrifices that cannot be easily summarized.
Today, Kalamafka is a vibrant village with a growing population. It has a two-seat school, a nursery school, a cultural association, numerous coffee houses, and seven taverns. The natural landscape, often referred to as "Chinese" due to its small rock pillars with bonsais, stone formations, and Kastelos Hill with its 224 steps, is considered a monument of natural history. Kalamafka offers visitors a wealth of attractions, including caves, rock paintings, the Havgas gorge, an ancient olive press, and the churches of Saint John and Saint Anthony.
The taverns, shaded by plane trees and surrounded by running water, serve traditional and delicious local dishes, including the traditional "klostenios" halva and skyfomakarounes (local pasta). The sounds of the lyra, violin, and lute add to the ambiance, pleasing both locals and foreigners. There are indeed many compelling reasons to visit Kalamafka.
By Toby Robert
The traditional little village of Vrisses lies approx. 35 km from Chania town. The old village square with its tall plane trees, the tavernas and kafenions is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush green landscape by the river Vrissanos and taste the renowned and particularly delicious local yogurt.
The village of the rising sun, as its name declares. The golden rays illuminate Anatoli, the hanging rocks, the Holy Cross church, Drygies, Karkasa, and give the impression that the sun keeps rising. It is an old, historical, traditional village, situated at 17 km in the north-west of Ierapetra, at an altitude of 600 m. Its housesare visible from the plain and seem like white doves, nested in the fortified mountain of Anatoli. A privileged place, it has been a cradle of men of letters, Notaries, University professors, with great history and civilization.In the 70s, most of Anatoli’s residents got down to the plain and worked in the glasshouse cultivations. They founded, along with residents from other villages the settlementsStomio, Nea Anatoli, Ammoudares. The small picturesque village Kalogeroi, which, according to tradition, was built by a Turkish Aga, is part of Anatoli. It is referenced sincethe era of the Venetian rule. In 1583, along with Kalogeroi, it had 666 residents. In 1951 it had 897 and in 2001, along with Nea Anatoli, it had 1235 residents. The Tower of theVenetian feudal lord still lies in ruins in the north of the village. It nurtured important men of letters, such as Antonios Damilas, scribe and printer, Neilos Damilas, scholarlypriest-monk in the Karkasia Monastery, Dimitrios Damilas, brother of Antonios, scribe and printer in Milan, who published the “Greek Grammar” in 1476, Anthimos Donos,and Ioannis Olokalos, whose notary documents have been recently published. The latter had his seat in Drygies, a wonderful location in the east of the village with runningwaters, a tavern with a view of Ierapetra and the little church of Saint Foteini. Anatoli was an important intellectual center, having a school during the Venetian rule and a secretschool during the Turkish rule.The area of Anatoli, a fortified position, produced great fighters during the Turkish rule, such as Emmanuel Lakerdas, general chief of Ierapetra, Iakovos Mahairas, AthanasiosBarberakis and Georgios Bekiaris.Its history and struggles were imortant in all the historical periods. It has many ecclesiastical monuments, Monasteries and Byzantine icons of great art.The old traditional settlement of Anatoli has remained untouched by time, with its stone-built houses, the alleys, the old Kato Vrysi. Five years ago, it entered a program ofrenovation, was characterized as a traditional settlement and today houses and tourist lodgings of exceptional esthetics are built in stone. In a few years, Anatoli of Ierapetra willbe one of the most beautiful villages of Crete, with its wonderful climate, its extraordinary view, its incomparable natural landscape on which the Museum of Natural Historyof Crete has worked and about which it published a relevant document.Anatoli as well as its residents have to this day been successful in the agricultural, tourist and intellectual sectors. Personalities coming from the village dominate the political,social and intellectual life of our country. Anatoli was a Municipality in the beginning of the 20th century, then a Community and today a Local Department ofthe Municipality of Ierapetra, building its future on solid foundations. Hosting important cultural events, with itshistorical, folkloric and musical contributions, it is a center of attraction of bothlocals and foreigners. With two taverns, two coffee houses, a renovatedold school and hospitable residents, it satisfies the most demandingvisitors. Anatoli is even rich in snails and wild mushrooms.
A stately village built in settlements, 22 km away from Ierapetra, at an altitudeof 225 m, next to the Ierapetra-Vianos provincial road. A green landscape,overgrown with olive trees, with an unlimited view of the Libyan Sea, to thesurrounding areas Koleitos, Kakon Oros, to the beaches Vatos and Kallikovrechtis.An almost abandoned village, with old houses built of stone, with chiseled doorframes and coats of arms bearing the Christian cross and proving its old gloryand history.Giannis Dimitromanolakis, an author from Gdohia, writes:“Gdohia sprouted right opposite the beach of the Libyan Sea. Nothing wouldhave been better for the pirates, who, like diabolical ghosts, emerged into thenight to kill and prey. The village’s history is dipped in blood, as it often sufferedfrom the raids of the pirates from the Barbary Coast. It took the name Gdohiafrom the catastrophes, from the verb “gdyno”, to skin, to set fire, to devastate.”Gdohia’s course in time has evidence of struggles, sacrifices and holocausts toshow. It was not only exposed to the pirates but it was situated on the naturalsouth passage going from the Viannos area to the Ierapetra area. This meantthat the hordes of barbarous conquerors burnt and devastated it, along withthe other Symiana villages, as they are called, in the West Ierapetra.Gdohia’s settlements are built leaving a distance between each other: KatoGdohia or Pitropiana, taking their name from the Epitropakis family livingthere, Pefkiana or Grysboliana, from the Grysbolakis family, Dimitromanolianafrom the Dimitromanolakis family, Daskaliana from the Daskalakis family,Papadiana from the Papadakis family. Great stonecutters, stoneworkers,famous for their art, Gdohia’s residents built the mansions of the whole areaand the famous bridge of Myrtos using stones from the quarries of Kolleitos.The miraculous church of Panagia (Our Lady) Evaggelistria of Gdohia, a workof art and a great ecclesiastical monument is also built by Gdohia’s residents.Gdohia village, once the seat of a Community, today a Local Department ofthe Municipality of Ierapetra, presents an exceptional sight-seeing interest. Itprovides natural landscapes, beautiful beaches, picturesque little churches onthe hills, a spacious square with palm trees, seats and a war memorial forthe fallen fighters of the liberation wars. In the 1881 census, 296 residents areregistered and 73 in 2001. Gdohia’s permanent residents, along with someforeigners’ families who have bought and renovated old houses, struggle forthe village’s development which gradually acquires the necessary infrastructures.A village with rich history and civilization, with vast olive groves, a nicemild climate, both during summer and winter, it hopes to come back to life.The old mansions, half-wrecked and burned in the German Occupation, standas if they were sculptures, a painting with the deep blue Libyan Sea serving asa background, narrate the flourishing, the glory and the history of Gdohia andwait to be inhabited again.
It is a small village, 7 km to the north of Ierapetra, at an altitude of 212 m. According to tradition, the village took its name from a large olive tree. It produced at least 10 sacks of olives and it provoked admiration by its size, and mostly by its height (Makrylia meaning tall olive tree). The village is old and traditional, with original Cretan style houses that have remained untouched over the time, in a beautiful and healthy environment, with a view of the overgrown with olive trees plain, with a rich history and hospitable residents.
Margarites (GR: Μαργαρίτες) with 300 inhabitants, is located 27 kilometers from Rethymnon at 300 m above sea level near the amcient town of Eleftherna. Margarites, is a village with Venetian roots, mentioned by sixteenth-century travellers. In the nineteenth century, Margarites was a flourishing town, whose centuries-old ceramic tradition began at least as early as the Ottoman period. Margarites is undoubtedly the most important pottery centre in western Crete.
Panagia Kera of Kritsa
The Panagia Kera of Kritsa, as it is called the Temple of the Virgin Mary (Kera), is 1 km to the north of the village of Kritsa in Merabello Lassithi, in a place called Logari, right on the road from Agios Nikolaos to Kritsa. The history of the church of Panayia Kera begins at least since the 13th century.
Sitia General Hospital
The hospital provides full medical treatment and services.
Xerokamares, 72300 SitiaTel : 2843 3 40 100
FAX : 2843 0 25 352 - 2843 3 40 200
Found at Phaistos Palace
The disc of Phaistos is the most important example of hieroglyphic inscription from Crete and was discovered around 1903-05 in a small room near the depositories of the "archive chamber", in the north - east apartments of the palace, together with a Linear A tablet and pottery dated to the beginning of the Neo-palatial period (1700- 1600 B.C.).
The disc of Phaistos can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Tylissos Archaeological Site
The houses of Tylissos were built during the LM I period (16th-15th century B.C.). Additions were made on House A in the LM II (15th-14th century B.C.) and on House C during the LM III period (14th century B.C.). The site was destroyed by fire in the 14th century B.C. and re - inhabited in historic times as is attested by ruins of later houses over the Minoan ones. Tylissos was excavated by Joseph Chatzidakis in 1902-1913. In 1954, in the course of restorations, parts of a paved court were revealed to the west, and a small stoa with five columns to the north of the Square of the Altar.
The monuments were restored by the Archaeological Service (under the direction of Nicolaos Platon) in the period between 1954 and 1962. All three houses were again restored in 1990-1994.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Anemospelia Archaeological Site
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)
Gournia - Archaeological Site
Pahia Ammos, Ierapetra
Gournia lies on a small hill, a few hundred metres from the sea in the Gulf of Mirabello, close to the north end of the Ierapetra isthmus ( 2 Km from Pachia Ammos village & 19 Km from Ag.Nikolaos). Gournia - the ancient name of which is not known - is the most characteristic of the excavated medium-size settlements, dated to the period of the peak of the Minoan culture (Late Minoan I period: 1550-1450 B.C.).
It is called "Pompeii of Minoan Crete" because of the good state of preservation. It occupies a low hill, close to the sea, at the Isthmus of Ierapetra.
Palaikastro Archaeological site
Sitia, East Lassithi
At the northernmost edge of the eastern coast of Crete lie the ruins of a settlement which flourished during the Late Minoan period (1550-1220 B.C.). At the same site, however, are preserved remains of the Early and Middle Minoan periods (3000-1550 B.C.), mostly cemeteries with well-built ossuaries, and ruins of spacious houses. The site ceased to be inhabited at the same time when Zakros was abandoned (1450 B.C.) but was reoccupied during the Late Minoan III period (1300-1200 B.C.). The city covered a total area of more than 50,000 sq.m., was densely inhabited but not fortified.
To the NE of one of the city's sectors lies the sanctuary of Diktaian Zeus, which belonged administratively to the city of Itanos. Cult practice was continuous from the Geometric period (8th century B.C.) until the Roman conquest. It seems that the sanctuary was plundered and destroyed by fanatic Christians at the end of the 4th century A.D.
Monastiraki (The archaeological site)
Monastiraki lies in the valley of Amari, on the natural route leading from northern Crete to the Messara plain. Excavations have brought to light a centre of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.). which was destroyed by fire following an earthquake. The large number of storerooms and the existence of two archive rooms with many clay sealings indicate a palatial character for the site. Other finds on the top of a neighbouring hill suggest there must have been a religious centre in the area, as well.
Aptera Archaeological Site
Aptera, Apokoronas, Hania
One of the most important city - states of Crete. The first epigraphic occurence of its name (A-pa-ta-wa) is found in the Linear B tablets found at Knossos. (14th - 13th century B.C.). The history of the city is continued through the centuries untill the 7th century A.D. when a major earthquake destoyed it. Its ideal location, allowed the city to control the naval activity in the bay of Souda, and was determinative for its development in an important commercial center.
The era of the city's greatest peak was the early Hellenistic period (late 4th - 3rd century B.C.). At that time Aptera experienced an economical and political floruit, begins to mint its own coins and develops diplomatic relations with important centres of the Hellenistic world.
The most important monuments of the site are:
Bipartite temple, known as the "bipartite sanctuary", dated to the 5th-4th century B.C.
Graves of the Geometric-Roman periods.
The fortification wall, preserved to a length of almost 4 kilometres.
Part of a Roman bouleuterion.
Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos.
Turkish fortress built in 1866-1869.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Vassiliki - Archaeological Site
Pahia Ammos, Ierapetra
The ancient settlement of Vasilike is one of the first Minoan settlements with town-planning. It occupies the top and slopes of a low hill near the village Vasilike, in the vicinity of the Minoan settlement of Gournia. The first settlement dates back to the Early Minoan II period (2600-2300 B.C.) and owed its development not only to the strategic position, controlling the Isthmus of Hierapetra, but also to the neighbouring fertile plains. The central building of the settlement was destroyed by fire in around 2300 B.C.
Eleftherios K. Venizelos (1864-1936)
Politician born in Mournies, Chania
Eleftherios Venizelos (Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos, GR: Ἐλευθέριος Κυριάκου Βενιζέλος - 23 August 1864 – 18 March 1936), born in Mournies village near Chania, was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932. Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece", and he is still widely known as the "Ethnarch".
Léndas or Léntas (GR: Λέντας), positioned almost in the centre of Cretes' south coast, clusters around a pretty bay that's dominated by an enormous rock resembling a lion's head that juts into the sea on one side of the resort. The village offers most facilities you might need during your stay; a choice of tavernas, three or four directly on the beach, two or three bars, mini-markets and even an Internet café. There is a sand/shingle beach and the sea is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
Beach in South Iraklion
Tripití (or Trypití GR: Τρυπητή) is a 400m long beach on the southern Asterousia coastline. It is located 57km from Heraklion (west gate, Giofyros) via Agioi Deka - Vagionia - Vassiliki - Trypiti road. The last 10km, from Vassiliki to Trypiti, is a dirt but in fairly good condition road. The road passes over the gorge of Agios Savvas, with spectacular rocky walls, then through a forest of olive and carob trees and finally via the gorge of Trypiti through a very narrow passage reaches the beach. This is a very interesting route with breathtaking views and fantastic scenery.
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