Crete : Regional Interest
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at 47.8km (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 47.8km (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.
at 48km (N)
Capacity: 26,240 (seated)- Location: The stadium is located in Heraklion (also: Iraklio) 3 km west of the city centre (at Lido beach)... The building began 15 years ago and the 2004 Olympic Games proved to be the golden opportunity for the Pancretan, as the Athens Organising Committee named it as one of the venues of the football tournament.
It was inaugurated on 31 March 2004, when it hosted an international friendly match between the National teams of Greece and Switzerland. The stadium is currently the second largest stadium of the country.
The stadium is actually part of a sports complex. A training ground with an 8-lane athletics track, Lido Indoor Hall, and a swimming pool are located right next to the Pancretan Stadium.
at 48km (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.
at 48.2km (NE)
Mathia is 11 km to the SE of Kasteli, has 215 inhabitants and lies at 590 m above sea level, in the foothills of the Afendi mountain (1578 m), with the Dikti mountain in the background.
The earliest reference to the village can be found in several contracts of 1271 where the notary of Chandax P. Scardon mentions commercial exchanges of grain and wine with residents of the village ‘Mithie’, possibly a misspelling for Mathia. The name derives from the common first name for girls, ‘Mattia’, which in Crete is pronounced ‘Mathia’.
Burials in jars of the middle Minoan period were discovered in 1957 close to the village, in a place known as Stavroplaka. To the NW of the village, at Katalimata, a Late Minoan site with important finds and, 200 m further off, a settlement with large walls still in place were also found.There are wonderful Byzantine wall paintings in the two churches of this traditional village, the church of Koimisi tis Panagias (Dormition of Our Lady) and the church of Agios Giorgos.
At Metochi, in beautiful surroundings where the historical holm-oak of Ismail Pasha stands among plane trees and running water, there are camping facilities.
You can also visit an old factory and several ruined mills.
The village boasts of several kapheneions where they serve raki and ‘mezedes’ (tit-bits).
There is an active cultural centre, that organizes events especially in the summer, with evenings of Cretan music and theatre plays. The most important and traditional feast is held on the Sunday of Agioi Pantes, 50 days after Easter.
Martinego Bastion - Kazantzakis tomb
at 48.3km (NE)
The bastion heart shaped in plan with an acute angle, has two "piazza bassa" and one cavalier. It defines the southeast and the highest part of the fortification. Its name is due to Gabriele Tadini Martinego (1520) who started the construction of a circular tower at the place of the later bastion. It was one of the strongest bastions (the others were that of Pantocratora and that of Vittouri) which also suffered the main attack and most of the bombardment from the Turks.
On the top of the bastion itself there was made a cavalier (which looks like a smaller bastion), whose main purpose was the better defense and control of the area around the bastion.
The grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan writer, is situated on the highest point of the Venetian fortification at the Martinego cavalier. The inscription by the wooden cross reads: " I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free ", a phrase taken from "The Odyssey" which Kazantzakis considered as one of his most significant works.
The playgrounds of the Academy of the local football team "Ergotelis" are located today on the main bastion and in the ditch around the bastion are the botanical gardens of the city.
at 48.6km (NE)
Kastelli (GR: Καστέλλι) is a small town in the countryside of the province of Pediada. It has over 2000 inhabitants and provides all the modern facilities and public services its residents and/or visitors may need. Many events are organized through the year by the municipality, the school and the cultural centre. In August a special festival, known as the Feast of Xenitemenou (ex-patriot feast) includes concerts, folklore, exhibitions and theatre plays.
Agios Minas Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
at 48.8km (N)
The Cathedral of St. Minas:The small church of St. Minas did not meet the religious needs of the constantly growing Christian community, so the demand arose for the erection of a new cathedral. The plot for the new church used to be a garden that belonged to a Turk from whom it was bought. The architect was Athanasios Moussis and in 1862 the foundation stone of one of the most magnificent and impressive Greek churches was laid. The outbreak of the Cretan revolution of 1866 demanded the stopping of the building work which will continue in 1883 in order to be completed in 1895, when the inauguration of the exquisite temple took place. The church is of the cruciform type with a dome based on a high spandrel, while internally there are also elements of a three aisle basilica. It has two bell towers, one in the northeastern corner and the other in the southeastern one. The right aisle is dedicated to Apostle Titos and the left one to St. Ten Martyrs of Crete. The inside of the church has gone through many changes with new additions. With plans of the architect Anastasios Orlandos the woodcut icon screen was replaced by another one made of marble, the same happened with the bishop's seat. The religious painting of the church was assigned to St. Kartakis who followed faithfully the principles and the models of the Byzantine icon painting. The hundredth anniversary from the inauguration of the Cathedral Church of St. Minas (1995) was celebrated with every solemnity that is suited in an equal occasion and more specifically to one of the most glorious and imposing Greek churches.
at 48.8km (NE)
Diavaide (GR: Διαβαϊδέ) has 120 inhabitants and lies very near to Kasteli (700m to the SE) at 355m above sea level.
The earliest reference to the name is found in the Ducal Archives at Chandax in 1378. Another document in the same archives mentions a certain G. Dochiano, inhabitant of Diavaide.
In an inscription, found in the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios Sfakiotis, the name of the village is clearly mentioned, indicating that Diavaide existed well before the Turkish occupation. In that church there is a unique fresco of Byzantine art that represents Saint George and Saint Demeter passing through the sea on their horses, while at their feet lie various sea creatures; crabs, lobsters, and other fish, a strange phenomenon indeed, considering that the village is so far away from the sea. There is also the church of Agios Nikolaos in the village dated to the same period.
The village took part in all the main fights by Crete against the enemies of its freedom, while during German occupation the high college of Kastelli continued to operate in Diavaide houses.
The cultural association of the village, one of the first in this area, strives to maintain the cultural traditions and the continuity of village history through the years.
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition
at 48.9km (N)
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition of Byzantine Art and Ecclesiastical objects. A small sinaitic church of St. Catherine with a Basilica design, houses an exhibition with works of art from the Cretan renaissance. Among the exhibits are some of the most important icons of the Cretan School, ecclesiastical books and manuscripts, vestments, ecclesiastical vessels and relics, wall-paintings, wood-carvings and sculpture.
at 49.1km (NE)
Polythéa (GR: Πολυθέα) is located 500 m NE of Kastelli at an altitude of 335m.N Nowadays Polythea has become part of Kasteli and it has 364 inhabitants.
Fr. Barozzi mentions it as Apigaiduri in 1577, belonging to the Pediada district and it continues to be known with that name until 1940, when it is re-baptized with its current name, Polythea.
The previous name of the village, Pigaidouri, is originated by the word ‘pigaidi', which is Cretan for ‘pigadi', which means ‘a well'. It is a nice name that propably has been changed due to the fact that people thought it was a reference to ‘gaidouri', which means ‘donkey'.
Apart from the ubiquitous raki and mezedes served at the kapheneions, you can also find rooms for rent.
A typical Cretan feast is held here on August 15th for the Virgin Mary (Assumption).
Archaeological Museum of Herakleion
at 49.2km (NE)
The most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and completeness is housed in this museum. The exhibiton of the museum is organized in chronological order, ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman era (4th century A.D.) and geographically, according to the provenance of the finds.
Agios Titos Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
at 49.2km (NE)
With the recovery of Crete from Nikiforos Fokas (961AD), the seat of the bishopric is transferred from Gortyna to Chandakas, which became the capital of the island. The new cathedral, which is the most established and largest in the city, is dedicated to the Apostle Titos. Here, amongst other relics, there are gathered the Holy Skull of the Apostle and the miracle working icon of Messopapaditissas.
Historical Museum of Crete
at 49.3km (N)
The history and culture of Crete, from the first centuries of the Christian era to our present time. An exceptional museum featuring a collection of extremely precious objects, a must see for every visitor to Crete. The museum is housed in a two storey neoclassical building, which was constructed in 1903 on the site of an earlier mansion.
at 49.4km (NW)
The " Museum of ancient Eleutherna - Homer in Crete" , was created to accommodate the results of the excavations carried out for thirty years in the ancient city of Eleutherna (Eleftherna GR: Ελεύθερνα). It is a modern building approximately 1,800 sq.m. which together with the surrounding area occupies 3 acres and remotely resembles ark that emerges from the earth, gazing Ida (Psiloritis).
Agios Vassilios, Rethymnon south
at 49.5km (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.
at 49.5km (NE)
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.
at 49.6km (NE)
Amariano, a charming small village of 321 inhabitants, (census 2001), lies in the western foothills of Afendi mountain, at an altitude of 530m. It is located at 7, 2 km east of Kastelli and can be found on the road axis; Kasteli -Xidas- Kastamonitsa-Amariano.
With the traditional, century old plane tree in the middle of the village square, with the fountain, surrounded by kafeneions (traditional cafes) serving refreshments; raki (or tsikoudia, the traditional Cretan spirit) and mezedes (tit-bits), Amariano is a typical Cretan village, well worth a look. Until recently, the leather tannery was a main activity among the villagers. The main produce today are olive oil, raisins and grapes, although there is also livestock.
Close by is the church of Agios Giorgos Kefaliotis with good quality wall paintings.
The cultural centre of Amariano organises a great feast on August 15th, the Dormition of Theotokos and on September 20th, day of the patron saint, Aghios Eustathios. This can be a great occasion for any visitor to live an authentic cultural experience, to meet the people and taste the traditional Cretan cuisine.
The first mention of the village -Amariano and Mariano- is to be found in inscriptions dating back to 1394-1399. Fr. Barozzi also mentions it in the region of Pediada in 1577.
The name is significant: Amari is an area close to the town of Rethymnon, therefore the first inhabitants were originally from the Amari region. During the second Byzantine period, this region was known as Apano Syvritos and the name Amari is first mention in Venetian times. This would imply that the village was first founded during the Venetian conquest of the island. The first spelling, Amarianos, is the correct one and the family names Amarianos, Amargianitakis and Amariotis first appear in the 16th century, in the 1583 cencus.
at 49.7km (NE)
Built at 510 m with 319 people Ksidás (GR: Ξυδάς) also known as Lyttos, is located at 3 km from Kastelli in the foothills of the site of the ancient town Lyttos. The first mention of the village goes back to 1368AD, with the name Ksidas.
A burial site was discovered when the road was being constructed, at Chomatolakkos, belonging to late Roman period.
Two gold rings have also been found here, the one with stone, showing the portrait of an emperor holding a spear, and the other with a hoop, showing two interlocking hands. A bronze ring with a Greek inscription, along with golden plates and bronze coins, were also found at this site.
Koules Venetian fortress (Castello del Molo )
Iraklion Venetian port
at 49.8km (NE)
A seaside fortress situated at the entrance of the old harbour. It was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new Venetian fortification, in order to protect the pier and the port. It took its last shape in the years between 1523 - 1540 replacing another construction destroyed by an earthquake.
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