Crete : Regional Interest
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Sorting By proximity to Arkalohóri town
at 11.6km (N)
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.
Kato Karouzana village
at 12km (NE)
Anbother beautiful small settlement, with 38 people, Kato Karouziana (GR: Κάτω Καρουζανά) lies at an altitude of 300m and is located at 49km from Herakleion and 1km from Epano Karouzana.
It offers a spectacular view to the Kastelli plain, picturesque paved lanes, traditional kafeneia and taverns and is a popular with tourists, especially in the summer when many Cretan evenings are organized with local music and dance.
Minoan Megaron at Vathypetro
at 12.3km (NW)
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.
at 12.4km (NE)
Smari has a very long history and was inhabited, according to reliable sources, from the proto-Minoan period onwards. The archeological relics in the Akropolis of the hill called Profitis Elias, excavated under the direction of the Archeologist D. Hatzi Vallianou, indicate a continuous human presence from the Middle-Minoan period to about 630 B.C.
Epano Karouzana village
at 12.7km (NE)
A beautiful small settlement, with 48 people, Epano Karouziana (GR: Επάνω Καρουζανά) lies at an altitude of 380m and is located at 40km from Herakleion. It is mentioned for the first time in 1842, its name was taken by a family name "Karouzos" common in the village.
The village offers a spectacular view, picturesque paved lanes, traditional kafeneia and taverns and is a popular with tourists, especially in the summer when many Cretan evenings are organized with local music and dance.
Lagou traditional village
at 13km (NE)
To the east of Smari, at 400 m above sea level, with 99 inhabitants, Lagou (GR: Λαγού) is first mentioned in the Turkish census of 1671 with 4 haratsia (head tax).
The journey to the village is charming getting you through areas of impressive wild landscape, and the typical old stone houses of Lagou, through the combined efforts of the members of the cultural centre, are being restored to their original traditional form so as to get the well deserved honour of being considered a protected traditional settlement.
at 13.3km (NW)
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.
at 13.3km (NE)
Askoi (GR: Ασκοί) is small village in the municipality of Kasteli has 315 inhabitants. It lies in the foothills of the Dikti mountain, 11 km to the east of Kasteli and 8 km from Lyttos.
Fr. Barozzi mentions it as Ascus, in the Pediada district, in 1577.
Recently a ritual clay figurine of the Mid-Minoan period was fortuitously unearthed on a peak close to the village. The remains of a large building belonging to a peak sanctuary have been excavated at Amygdalokefalo to the NE of the village.
A reference in a contract of 1271, mentions how Petri Comarii from the village (casali) Maski owes Ruggerino Temisano, resident in Chandax, 25 «mistata» of good Cretan wine from his vineyards in Maski.
Among other natural beauties, the ravine at Aski is well worth seeing.
On December 4th the village has a typical Cretan feast to honour Agia Varvara. And as in every Cretan village, raki and ‘mezedes’ are always available at the kafeneions.
Phourni Archaeological Site
at 14.3km (NW)
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.
at 15.3km (N)
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.
Kyra Eleoussa Monastery
at 15.6km (N)
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.
Kalo Horio Village
at 15.8km (NE)
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.
Anemospelia Archaeological Site
at 16km (NW)
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)
Prophitis Ilias Town
at 16.2km (NW)
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.
Diktaian Cave (Dikteon Antron)
Psychro, Lassithi Plateau
at 16.4km (E)
The cave of Psychro is one of the most important cult places of Minoan Crete. The excavators and several scholars identify the cave as the famous "Diktaian Cave", where Zeus was born and brought up with the aid of Amaltheia and the Kouretes, and which is connected with myths as this of the seer Epimenides who "slept" here, or the coupling of Zeus with Europa.
Viannos town & area
South east Iraklion
at 16.9km (SE)
Historical place with outstanding natural beauty, unspoiled villages and great beaches. The town of Ano Viannos is built amphitheatrically on the southern slopes of Dikti mountain at 560 m. above sea in a distance of 65km from Iraklion and 40km from Ierapetra. It preserves the traditional character with the narrow paved streets, the stone built houses - especially the "Plaka' quarter - the old kefeneios with tables under the plane trees and old churches such as Agios Georgios and Agia Pelagia with wall paintings dating back to the 14th century. There are a few accommodation facilities, banks, medical center, taverns, gas stations, shops etc. Ano Viannos is the seat of the municipality of Viannos.
at 17km (N)
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.
Agia Paraskevi Cave
at 17.5km (N)
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 .
at 18.1km (W)
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'.
Monofatsi, South Iraklion
at 18.3km (S)
Tsoutsouros (GR: Τσούτσουρος) is a small village on the southern coast of Iraklion prefecture, with lovely beaches and a small harbour. The ancient city of Inatos, used to stand were Tsoutsouros is now. Inatos served as a port to Priansos a renowned city - state of the Hellenistic time, located near the village of Kasteliana.
Tsoutsouros is a popular tourist resort especially with Greek families. There are many taverns and cafes most of them around the small harbour, and a good choice of apartments and hotels along the beach.
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