Crete : Regional Interest
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Sorting By proximity to Nida plateau
Agia Varvara town
at 16.4km (SE)
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.
Messara bay, Iraklion South
at 16.5km (SW)
Kokkinos Pirgos (GR: Κόκκινος Πύργος) is a small coastal community, 2km away from Timbaki with a nice, long sandy beach, one of the longest in Crete, and a clear transparent sea. The part of the beach to the north west of the harbour is called Makrimaliana (or Kakoskalo) and the south east part of it is called Katalyki . The harbour in front of the village of Kokkinos Pirgos, offers docking facilities for sailing and fishing boats. There are hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. across the harbour and along the beach. You can always find good fresh fish in the taverns of the village. Kokkinos Pirgos (meaning red tower) , took its name from a castle that use to be there during the Middle Ages, which was built by red clay earth.
at 16.7km (N)
Apladianá (GR: Απλαδιανά) is a small village built at the foot of the two Kouloukona heights. The settlement stretches out along the old national road, where it developed after the opening of the new national road. It comprises cafes, tavernas, and accommodation facilities included in the Countryside Tourism programs.
It is worth your while, however, to visit the old village, climbing there on foot or by car. Picturesque, narrow streets, wonderful old houses with interesting architectural elements, old cisterns and churches will reward your efforts.
The old village built on a height of 260 m above sea-level has 175 inhabitants and the settlement along the old national road, known as "Kampos ton Apladianon", has 78 inhabitants. It is 40 kilometres away from Rethymnon and is located at the foot of the highest peak of the Kouloukona mountain in the Tallaios range.
Already as far back as 1368 we find a mention of the Aplada family, the founders of the present village and in the topographical maps of the Civil Engineering Services of Rethymnon it figures as Pladiana. The settlement is not mentioned in the 16th and 17th cent. documents. In the 1881 census, Apladiana is attributed to the commune of Garazo, with 57 inhabitants and in 1900 it is referred to as the Apladiana Commune which, together with the Cheliana settlement, had 153 inhabitants.
Agia Triada Arch. Site
Archaeological Site in Messara, S-W Iraklion
at 16.8km (S)
The "Royal Villa" at Ayia Triada which is situated very close to Phaistos, was built in about 1550 BC. i.e. just before the new palace at Phaistos, and was destroyed by fire in l450 BC, like all other important Minoan centres. It succeeded the first palace at Phaistos as the economic and administrative centre of the regions depriving the new palace there of this role, and appears to have had connections with Knossos. The two wings, with an open-air space between them, consisted of groups of interconnecting rooms (polythyra), storerooms and stairways. On the site of the ruins, a Mycenaean megaron, the so-called "Agora" and an open - air shrine were subsequently built.
In the villa's disaster layer from the fire in 1450 BC, excavation revealed a valuable group of exceptional works of art, precious materials, records in Minoan script and seals. The famous black serpentine vessels, the "Harvesters' Vase", the "Boxers' Vase" and the "Chieftain ‘ s Cup", the wall paintings depicting the natural landscape, the sarcophagus, the bronze and clay figurines of worshipers and the copper ingots from the Treasury are among the most noteworthy findings.
at 17km (S)
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.
at 17.1km (SE)
Moúlia (GR: Μούλια) is a village in Kenouriou county, located three and a half kilometers away from Agia Varvara town and 32 km from Iraklion at an altitude of 640 m above sea level. Moulia is an old village as we come across a reference to it in a document dated in 1248, where the settlement is recorded as belonging to the archbishopric of Crete. Another reference is found in a legal agreement established in 1411. The name figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in the Turkish and Egyptian censi. In 1881, it forms part of the municipality of Zaros with about 180 inhabitants, and again in 1900. As of 1920 it is a commune in its own right, and today with the lower village of Kato Moulia it counts over 550 inhabitants. The main church of the village, with wall paintings, is that of the patron saints, Saints Peter and Paul, and there is a village feast on the 29th June, in their honour. The lovely chapel of Zoodochos Pigis is also well worth a visit.
Agios Myron town
at 17.2km (E)
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.
Palace and Archaeological Site
at 17.3km (S)
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.).
Messara plain, South - East Iraklion
at 17.3km (S)
The administrative center of the Messara Valley. Moires (GR: Μοίρες) is the biggest town in the Messara Valley with a population of approximately 5000 people. It has a police station, magistrate's court,post office, public PTT office, health center, and offices of most Greek major banks.
at 17.3km (E)
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.
at 17.9km (SE)
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.
Agia Galini town
at 18.3km (SW)
A seaside town of the municipality of Agios Vassilios. It is a well organized tourist resort with comfortable hotels, apartments, camping sites, tourist agencies, car-renting offices, restaurants, tavernas and other recreation centres, as well as all the facilities required by tourists and locals alike. There is also a port and port - custom authorities.
at 18.3km (E)
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.
Gortyn Ancient town
Messara, Iraklion South
at 18.6km (SE)
Located in the valley of Messara, Gortys or Gortyn (GR: Γόρτυς or Γόρτυνα) is a must visit for all visitors to Crete. It was inhabited during Bronze Age times, but its rise to glory came almost a millennium after the downfall of the 'Minoans'. Gortyn was a prosperous city from around the middle of the 5th century BC through to the early 9th century AD, when it was finally destroyed by the Saracens (824AD), never to be rebuilt.
Agios Thomas village
at 18.6km (E)
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.
Sivritos (Ancient) - Thronos village
at 19km (W)
Sivritos (GR: Σίβρυτος) was an important and autonomous city of the ancient Crete. The city was built in the location that today is the village of Thronos. It was located on a hill dominating the valley of Amari. The name Sivritos is derived from the words si, that in the ancient eastern languages meant water, and the word vriti, that is of prehistoric origin and meant sweet. Therefore, Sivritos in the Minoan period meant sweet water. The derivation is also verified by the fact that near the hill where the city was located there are numerous sweet water springs.
Village in Messara plain
at 19.1km (SE)
Mitropoli (GR: Μητρόπολη) is a small village in the archaeological site of Gortyna in Messara plain. The village is mentioned for the first time in the Ducal archives of Candia in 1368 and later in the census of 1577 by Fr. Barozzi and in 1583 by Castrofylaka.
Early mention of the settlement is to document the Ducal Archive of Candia in 1368, also mentioned by Fr. Barozzi in 1577 with the name and the Mitropoli Kastrofilakas in 1583. According to the census of 2001 it has 382 inhabitants.
Main occupations of the inhabitants is the cultivation of vines, olives, vegetables, cereals and citrus fruits. At its north borders are located the ruins of the first cathedral of St. Titus, in which it owes its name.(Mitropoli = Cathedral).
Tylissos Archaeological Site
at 19.2km (NE)
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
Messara, Iraklion South
at 19.5km (S)
Kamilari is a quiet, traditional village, with a panoramic view to the endless olive groves of the Messara valley on the one side, and to the Libyan sea on the other side. It has been inhabited since the Minoan period. One of the seven wise men of the ancient world, Epimenidis, a great wise man and a soothsayer, lived in a small community outside Kamilari, called Metohi.
Agioi Deka town
Messara, Iraklion South
at 19.5km (SE)
Agioi Déka (GR: Αγιοι Δέκα) is a town with 820 inhabitants in the plain of Messara, 170m above sea level, 43 km from Heraklion town and very close to the archaeological site of Gortyna. Its people are occupied mostly in agriculture - vines and olive trees. In the area there is is the oldest olive grove in Crete.
The town is built on the ruins of the ancient town of Gortyn where the Holy Ten Martyrs have been martyred.
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