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Monastiraki (The archaeological site)
at 27.3km (N)
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.
at 27.7km (NE)
Located at the top (1750m) of Skinakas mountain of Idi (Ida) mounatin range, 60km from Heraklion. There are two telescopes and modern equipment and facilities both for research and educational activities in astronomy. It is a department of the University of Crete. Skinakas observatory offers a number of open days each year.
This gives the opportunity to visitors to be introduced to the operation of the observatory, to get informed about the latest achievements in Astrophysics and to observe through the telescope.
Open days for the year 2012:
During the open days the Observatory facilities can be visited from 17:00 to 23:00. Due to low temperatures at the Skinakas altitude, warm clothes are highly recommended. The visitors will have the opportunity to be guided through the Observatory's infrastructure and follow a related presentation. The road to Skinakas Observatory is very narrow. Accident may occur and the space is limited on the top. For the reasons above, buses are not allowed (advised) to visit the Observatory during open days.
Website : http://skinakas.physics.uoc.gr/
E4 Trail: 13. Trail: Amari Valley to Spili
by Richard Ellis
at 27.7km (NW)
26th August - You get to see Kedros close up and enjoy fabulous views back over the Amari Valley to Psiloritis and forwards over the high, little-visited plain above Spili. Once off dirt roads, the path is generally pretty clear on the ground but as ever the GPS helped me not to stray too far. As you come up out of Yerakari on the Spili road (a tempting ten kms) you take a left just after a fresh water fountain and immediately by a large cistern. There are many distracting side roads along here but you stay with the main dirt track as it winds close under Kedros before turning west.
Mov av 4.6 km/hr
Height overnight: 402m.
Max. height:1,050 m
Start at 680m
Agia Varvara town
at 28km (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.
at 28.8km (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.
at 28.8km (NE)
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.
East Ida mountain, Iraklion
at 29km (NE)
Prinos refuge at Prinos on Psiloritis mountain (Ida), is at 1100 metres. It can sleep 25 people, it has cooking facilities, two wood burning stoves for heating and a rainwater tank. Access is through the village of Ano Assites in Malevizi around 22km from Iraklion. From there a two kilometres of dirt road leads to a place called Melisses and then a one-and-a-half hour walk along a footpath signed with red marks, to the refuge.
Prinos hut was built in 1962 and was renovated around 1992. It is run by the mountaineering club of Heraklion. The view from Prinos to the north and east is great.
at 30km (N)
The artistic events, which take place every year in the first week of July at the same place called Fourni and in the Cretan village of Anogia. The poet, songwriter and singer from Anogia, who they call "Loudovikos from Anogia" wants to make the history of the young martyr, who supersedes his fear in love known to the public. And because 1.900 years have passed since the martyrdom of Yakinthos, he decided to honor the Saint of Love and sing together with him of the poetry of love.(www.yakinthia.com)
at 30.7km (NW)
The gorge that forms the river "megapotamos" ends at the Libyan Sea creating a small lagoon at its mouth. This lagoon, which the locals call "Lake" (limni , Gr:Λίμνη), is surrounded by palm trees and rich vegetation and is one of the most attractive places in Crete. In the past it used to be the ideal place for camping and naturalism. The sea is clean with a dazzling range of green and blue colors and the beach has fine white sand.
Agios Thomas village
at 30.9km (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.
Agios Thomas owes its name to the tripartite domed church, which still preserves part of its original wall paintings. The north nave is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the south one to Saint Charalambos and the centre one to the patron saint, Saint Thomas; the church is located in the centre of the village.
Of the 40 churches that are said to be in the village, the visitor should make a point of visiting the following: Aghia Paraskevi, with remains of wall paintings, Michail Archangelos, with wall paintings of the 12th century, Aghios Panteleimonas, Aghios Ioannis, and the chapel of Panagia Kardiotissa at the lovely site of Mouzouras.
There are a great many caves and cisterns cut out of the rock in the area; the caves were used as graves.The village of Aghios Thomas boasts of two great personalities born there: Kirikas Chairetis Kalamaras and the empirical doctor and fighter Logios, born in 1771. He fought the Turks from 1800 to 1815. He is buried opposite the ancient town of Phaistos.
The small settlement of Ardachtia or Argathia, lies 500 m from Agios Thomas. The name Argathia figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. As of 1881, through a mistake in the spelling, it is recorded as Ardachtia. On the verge of collapse, the village was abandoned and has been rebuilt as a neighbourhood of Aghios Thomas, at Plaka.
Sivritos (Ancient) - Thronos village
at 31km (N)
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.
Ano Asites village
at 31.7km (NE)
Ano Asites (GR: Ανω Ασίτες) lies 24km from Iraklion and 6km from Agios Myron at 480m a.s.l with 423 inhabitants.
A big part of the surrounding area is covered by forest on the eastern side of the mountain Psiloritis.
Near the village there is the Byzantine chapel of Agios Antonios located in the ravine with the same name a place of exceptional natural beauty. From here passes the European Hiking Path (E4) which leads to the shelter "Prinos" ( of the Mountaineering Club of Iraklion - altitude 1100 m a.s.l.) located in a holly (=prinos) forest.
E4 Trail: 14. Trail: Spili to Arghiroupoli
by Richard Ellis
at 31.7km (NW)
27th August - I set off from Spili at 0740 under a rather cloudy sky and with a cooling breeze to keep me feeling fresh. Today was always going to be a bit of a road slog and the first few kms to Mixourama was on the main road with cars flashing by. The GPS suggested that there was a road link between Koxare and Agouseliana even though there was nothing on the paper map so, after 6 or 7 kms, I cut across to Koxare.
Distance: 32 km
Time: 8 hrs. 25mins.
Mov av 4.8 km/hr
Height overnight: 272m.
Preveli Memorial for the Resistance & Peace
at 31.8km (NW)
The Holy Monastery of Preveli, to mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, decided to erect privately and under its supervision, an international memorial dedicated to the Resistance of the Cretan Population and Peace.
The Memorial was erected on the monastery's own land, on a site with a stunning panoramic view, overlooking the Libyan sea. The site is alongside the main bitumen road to the Monastery, and just 1.8 kms before the Monastery itself.
at 31.9km (NW)
Spili (GR:Σπήλι) is 30 km away from Rethymnon, along the road that goes from Rethymnon to Armenoi and then Spili. The town has about 800 inhabitants and it lies at a height of 430 m above sea level, at the foothills of Mount Vorizi, which belongs to the Kedros chain.
The landmark of the town is the square at Kefalovrissi with the 25 fountains each one in the shape of a lion's head. The square is named after Thanassis Skordalos (1920-1998), a popular lyra player and composer born in Spili.
Spili is a modern town, with all the facilities and services required by the locals and by the large number of visitors.
at 32.1km (NE)
The monastery of Aghios Georgios the Gorgolainis (GR: Αγιος Γεώργιος Γοργολαΐνι) is located on an altitude of 400 m close to the Kato Asites village. It survived through several revolutions and wars during the Ottoman occupation.
Agios Vassilios, Rethymnon south
at 32.4km (NW)
It stands 37 km south of Rethimnon, in an imposing landscape which is mentioned at the mid-19th century diary of Th. Spratt (admiral of the British Royal Navy), as "one of the happiest places to withdraw from trials and responsibilities of life".There are lots of legends concerning the foundation of the monastery, which is believed that started during the Venetian occupation of the island. A number of its monks activities made the monastery one of the richest of western Crete and due to its isolated position it played important role in Cretan revolts against the occupying forces. A substantial number of icons and other items is kept in the Museum of the Monastery of Preveli amongst them the miracle - working Eulogistic Cross of Efraim Prevelis.
Kato Asites village
at 32.4km (NE)
Kato Asites (GR: Κάτω Ασίτες lies 23km from Iraklion and 5km from Agios Myron at 450m a.s.l with 1113 inhabitants. Beautiful town with traditional architecture especially the quarters "Notiko", "Prinos" and "Kastella" close to the monastery of Gorgolaini.
Other interesting sights are:
The thermae of the king of Prinias, The uninhabited settlement of Nisi with traditional houses, the caves "Lesta spilios" at Marias aloni, "Astirakou spilios", "Sarakina" and "Katsivli spilios" at Lyssogremia and "Melissa", The chapels of "Panagia" aged 800 years, "Agios Antonios" aged 1000 years, "Agios Georgios" and "Agia Paraskevi".
The patron Saint is "Agia Paraskevi" celebrated on the 26th July .
at 33.3km (NE)
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'.
Malevizi, North - West Iraklion
at 33.7km (NE)
Kroussónas (GR: Κρουσώνας) is an historical town built in a semi-circle on the eastern slopes of the Psilortis (the highest mountain in Crete), between the hills of Koupos and Livadiotis, at 460 meters above sea-level. It is at a distance of 21 kilometres from Heraklion. A magnificent 10kms route, ideal for nature-lovers is that from Kroussonas to the wood of Vromonero at 1300m a.s.l.
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