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Agia%20Varvara%20town
Agia Varvara town
Kenourgiou, Iraklion
at 10km (NE)
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.

Megali%20Vrissi
Megali Vrissi
Kenouriou, Iraklion
at 10.1km (NE)
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.


Kaliviani%20monastery%20%20
Kaliviani monastery
Moires, Messara
at 10.7km (W)
The monastery of Panagia Kaliviani is located at the 59th km on the road Iraklion-Phaistos. The monastery was built during the second Byzantine period. The small Byzantine chapel was painted with frescoes but most of them are today destroyed. The chapel was deserted until, during the Turkish occupation in 1873, an old small icon of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother was miraculously found there.and the monastery became a place of worship.

Vrontissi%20Monastery
Vrontissi Monastery
Zaros
at 11.3km (NW)
This is one of Crete's most famous monasteries. It played an important role during the years of the Cretan Renaissance, both in the letters and the arts, and, during the last centuries of Venetian rule, it was known for its many scholars, artists and venerable monks.

Prinias%20village
Prinias village
Kenourgiou, Iraklion
at 11.7km (N)
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.

Varsamonero%20monastery
Varsamonero monastery
Voriza, South - West Iraklion
at 12km (NW)
Close historical bonds link this monastery to that of Vrontisiou. The Varsamonerou Monastery lies in the surrounding fields of the village Voriza, 54.5 kms from Heraklion. The monastery is abandoned and, though its cells have been destroyed, its church has some of the most remarkable wall paintings in Crete.

E4%20Trail%3A%2011%2E%20Trail%3A%20Rouvas%20to%20Nidha%20Plateau
E4 Trail: 11. Trail: Rouvas to Nidha Plateau
by Richard Ellis
at 12.1km (N)
14th June- The walk up from Rouvas is quite straightforward; once you have walked back down the stream from the Rouvas picnic area and turned right (north) up the dry river bed for two hundred yards, you scramble up a short, easy rock section (well sign posted) before the path continues up through open oak woodland (the Rouvas Forest) heading first for the Duo Prinoi chapel, which has a water tap, and then later up and over a ridge, beyond which a small dry water course leads up a steep sided valley to the flat lands of the Nidha plateau.
Distance:12 km
Time: 4.75 hrs.
Mov av 3.7 km/hr
Height overnight: 1,360m.


E4%20Trail%3A%2010%2E%20Trail%3A%20Three%20days%27%20rest%20
E4 Trail: 10. Trail: Three days' rest
by Richard Ellis
at 12.2km (N)
11th, 12th and 13th June- We had made camp in the yard beside the Aghios Ioannis chapel at Rouvas but, the following morning, it was quite clear that I wasn’t going to go any further on foot until the shin splint had settled down a bit. Minor surgery on the blisters exposed the full extent of those problems and I hung them out to dry in the sun while Triantafyllos went off looking for paths to put on his maps. I think I was lucky not to get infected blisters but Betadine is a great resource which I used extensively.

Agios%20Thomas%20village
Agios Thomas village
Kenourgiou, Iraklion
at 12.3km (NE)
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.

Central%20Court
Central Court
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The great Central Court is a basic architectural element of Minoan palaces and the core around which the different wings are set. It was the focus of the economic, social and religious activity of the palace, the setting for events which could be watched from the windows and balconies.
The Central Court of the Palace of Phaistos was built in the time of the Old Palace (1900-1700 BC). It was also used in the New Palace with minor alterations to its orientation and dimensions. It is a rectangular paved, open area with colonnades running along both its long sides, with alternating pillars and columns which supported open colonnades.On the west side of the court, two adjoining rectangular rooms with benches, open on to the Central Court, may have been "sitting rooms" for the spectators watching the events taking place in the Central Court. In the east colonnade of the court, some stone-built benches next to a water cistern may have formed islands of rest and recreation.
The stepped structure in the NW corner of the court may have been an altar for the ceremonies which were held here.
The pithoi (large storage jars) in front of it were found in buildings founded in the site of the Great Court after the destruction of the Palace.

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North Wing
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The North Wing is one of the most important wings of the Palace, as it is believed to have housed the "Royal Apartments". lt also contained sets of rooms, inner courtyards, corridors and staircases leading to the upper floor. The splendid gateway on the north side of the Central Court led to the complex of the "Royal Apartments". It is framed by two magnificent wooden half-columns, now reconstructed.
On either side of the gateway are two niches decorated with wall paintings, in which the gate guards may have stood. Behind the gateway is a wide corridor with a drainage duct, which led to an inner courtyard, which in turn led to the "Royal Apartments" complex.
The term "Royal Apartments" was established by the excavators, who followed the terminology applied by Evans to similar areas at Knossos. They are undoubtedly official apartments with particular architectural features, such as open balconies and colonnades, polythyra (pier-and-door partitions), lightwells and "Lustral Basins". The gypsum slab flooring and colourful wall paintings gave these apartments a particularly luxurious appearance.



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Peristyle
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The open peristyle court was one of the most elegant inner courtyards of the New Palace. It consisted of an impressive peristyle with four columns on each side supporting the corresponding colonnades, while the central area remained open. The same construction appears to have continued on the upper floor, with a second row of columns.
The peristyle court was a focal point of the Palace with access routes leading from here to the "Royal Apartments", the Propylaea and the Central Court.
The ruins visible on a lower level in the centre of the peristyle belong to a house of the Prepalatial settlement (3200-1900 BC).



King%27s%20Megaron
King's Megaron
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The northernmost of the "Royal Apartments" has been identified as the King's Megaron and bears a striking resemblance to the corresponding "King's Megaron" at the Palace of Knossos. It consists of a spacious central hall with impressive polythyra (pier - and - door partitions) on the north and east sides. The east polythyron communicates with a second room with two columns, which opens onto a large light-well to the east. The gypsum slab flooring with red plaster filling, the interstices, gave the whole complex a particularly sumptuous air.
The north side of both rooms opens onto a spacious colonnade with columns set far apart, offering a magnificent view of Mount Psiloritis and the sacred Kamares Cave. A long corridor at the back of the polythyron room leads to the impressive "Lustra1 Basin" of the Megaron. The whole apartment was decorated with colourful wall paintings depicting linear and plant motifs.

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Queen%27s%20Megaron
Queen's Megaron
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The southernmost of the "Royal Apartments" ofPhaistos has been identified as the Queen'sMegaron. It consists of a beautiful, spacioushall with a double colonnade opening ontoa light-well. The floors are paved with gypsum slabswith red plaster filling the interstices. Gypsumwas also widely used for the benches runningaround the walls of the Megaron and the facingof the lower part of the walls. The upper walls aredecorated with frescoes depicting plant motifs. Twobeautiful rhyta (libation vessels) were found here: one is decorated with the cult symbols of thedouble axe and sacral knot, while the other bears areed pattern.
The two staircases to west and north led to the upper floorof the Megaron and the peristyle, where one of the mainentrances to the "Royal Apartments" was located.


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Northeast%20complex
Northeast complex
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The complex of four rooms on the northeast edge of the Palace does not belong to the Old Palace, although it directly adjoins it. In the westernmost building is an elongated rectangular room with partitions of vertical clay slabs. Similar "cists" in the Palaces of Knossos and Zakros were used to store valuable ritual vessels. Here they were found empty. Next door, in the narrow rectangular room to the southeast, was found a clay tablet inscribed in Linear A and the famous "Phaistos Disc" bearing hieroglyphic writing. The building was therefore named the Palace "Archive"
The building east of the Archive is thought to be a shrine or the archivist's residence, while the easternmost building is known as the "Potter's Workshop" because a large number of unfinished pots were found there. The intermediate building has an impressive peristyle of alternating pillars and columns. A staircase on the south side of the peristyle building connects the whole complex to the NE entrance to the Palace, which stood in this spot.

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East%20Court%20and%20the%20workshop%20complex
East Court and the workshop complex
Phaistos Palace
at 12.4km (W)
The east part of the North Wing forms the workshop area of the Palace. It consists of the East Court and a complex of small rooms which are believed to be the workshops of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). Approximately in the centre of the court are the ruins of a horseshoe-shaped kiln. The elongated rectangular building with 6 rooms on the west side of the court appears to have been used for the workshops of the kiln craftsmen.
The square room on the north side of the court was the gatehouse of the northeast entrance to the Palace. It has gypsum slab flooring and benches around the walls. Behind it is a long corridor leading to the inner courtyard of the North Wing and thence to the "Royal Apartments"


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Phaistos
Phaistos
Palace and Archaeological Site
at 12.5km (W)
The archaeological site, the palace, the findings - The Festos Disc. According to mythology, Phaistos (or Festos) was the seat of king Radamanthis, brother of king Minos. It was also the city that gave birth to the great wise man and soothsayer Epimenidis, one of the seven wise men of the ancient world.Excavations by archaeologists have unearthed ruins of the Neolithic times (3.000 B.C.).

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Upper%20Court
Upper Court
Phaistos Palace
at 12.5km (W)
The Upper Court is the first of the three courts in the West Wing of the Palace. Its south side is supported by a strong retaining wall separating it from the West Court. On the west side, the 17 circular recesses in the ground indicate the presence of an equal number of wooden columns which probably supported a covered colonnade. The court is crossed from north to south by a raised "Processional Causeway", which, like those of the other palaces, would have been used for sacred processions and other rituals. The Upper Court also functioned as a kind of balcony from which one could watch the events taking place in the West Court, which is just to the south and on a lower level. The two courts are linked by a majestic staircase starting in the southeast part of the Court.
The buildings on the south side of the court were built much later, in Hellenistic times (323-67 BC), when the palaces had already beendestroyed. The most important of these contains a room with two columns, a central hearth and stone benches around the walls. It isbelieved to be a public building, probably a Prytaneion or Andreion.Early Christian tombs (330-600 AD) can be seen east of the "Processional Causeway"

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West%20Court%20%2D%20Theatral%20Area
West Court - Theatral Area
Phaistos Palace
at 12.5km (W)
The large paved West Court, in front of the facade and the central entrance to the Palace complex, dates from the time of the Old Palace (1900 - 1700 BC) and played an important part in the lives of its inhabitants.
On the north it is bounded by a high which also supports the Upper Court, which is on a higher level. At the foot of the wall are eight wide steps which formed the seats of what may be called a theatral area. As with the corresponding "Theatre" of Knossos, from here spectators would have watched the religious events and festivals taking place in the court. The West Court is crossed by a raised "Processional Causeway" similar to that of the Upper Court, which continues up the steps of the Theatral Area.
During the time of New Palate the West Court was widened and raised to a higher level, so only 4 of its 8 steps remained visible. After the reduction of the Theatral Area, the great staircase must have been used as an additional theatral area for the events and ceremonies held in the West Court.


Kouloures
Kouloures
Phaistos Palace
at 12.5km (W)
The south end of the West Court is occupied by four large stone-built structures known as "Kouloures" (rings) ,belonging to the Old Palace complex. The workmen on Evans' excavation gave them their name when they were first discovered at Knossos. Similar pits were also later discovered at the Palace of Malia. Their exact use is unknoun, although today they are generally regarded as depositories for offerings from the Palace shrines, or granaries.
In front of the Phaistos "Kouloures" passes a "Processional Causeway" which starts in the West Court. One of the "Kouloures" is cut across by a cobbled road built in later years.
The well next to them belongs to the Hellenistic period (323 - 67 BC).



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