Crete : Regional Interest
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Agios Vassilios, South Rethymnon
One of the nicest sandy beaches of Crete Damnoni is around 6km to the east of Plakias. There are some facilities like umbrellas, sun beds and sea sports and a couple of taverns for drinks and food. Accommodation is also available. Within walking distance to the east there are two smaller beaches nested in small coves. A little farther is the beach of Shinaria which is very popular with the divers.
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition
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.
The Fortezza castle, at the top of a low hill named "Palaiokastro" dominates the town. It was built in 1590 to protect the city from the pirates raids and the Turks.
The name "Palaiokastro which means 'The old Castle' was in use even by the Venetians which demonstrates the existance of an even older castle at this place. - Probably the acropolis of the ancient town of Rithymna.
The interior of Fortezza accommodated the following basic buildings: the storeroom of the artillery, where canons and weapons were kept, the residence of the Councilors, where one of the city's two Venetian councilors lived, the residence of the Rector, which represented a luxurious, magnificent building in the central square of the fortress.
Today parts of those buildings, as well as of some others built later, can be seen. The view from up there is magnificent, especially at night.
The municipal theatre "Erofili" stands also at Fortezza's premises. It is an outdoor theatre that hosts almost all the performances during the Renaissance Festival.
Contemporary Art Museum of Crete
Rethymnon Old Town
The Contemporary Art Museum of Crete was founded in 1992 as Municipal Gallery ‘L. Kanakakis'. It is housed in a Venetian building at the old city of Rethymno, below the Fortezza fortress and the Archaeological Museum. It houses a permanent exhibition of the work of Lefteris Kanakakis (oil paintings, sketches and aquarelles), thus representing all the stages of his achievements, as well as works of contemporary Greek artists, which cover a broad spectrum of modern Greek art as it has been accomplished from 1950 until today.
Address: 5, Heimaras Str. 741 00 Rethymno
Tel: +30 28310 52530
Rethymno Archaeological Museum
Rethymnon Old Town
It is housed in the church of Agios Frangiskos in the center of the old town. It exhibits objects from the Neolithic to the Roman period, found at the prefecture of Rethymno (mainly Eleftherna, Monastiraki and Armeni). Clay figurines, funerary coffers, grave offerings, statues, grave steles, red-figure vases, bronze vessels, jewellery and glass vases, are some of the objects on display.
St. Francis Church - 4 Agiou Fragiskou str.,
Telephone: +30 28310 27506
Winter: 08:00 - 15:00 November 1 - March 31
Summer: 10:00 - 18:00 April 1 - October 31, except Tuesday.
On the old road from Hania to Kissamos, 14km away from Hania is the coastal settlement of Kato Gerani which extends from the Platanias bridge to the village Pirgos Psilonerou. Awarded every year with the Blue Flag, the beach is organized and provide quite a lot facilities such as sun beds, umbrellas, shower, W.C. and sea sports. It is worth to take a small walk to the villages of the area, and enjoy the unspoiled Cretan nature and hospitality. Pano Gerani, Modi, Loutraki, Manoliopoulo are all within a distance no longer than 10 kilometrs.
Gavalohóri (GR: Γαβαλοχώρι) is an old big traditional village, with fine examples of traditional rural architecture and stone buildings that are well preserved. The village has been declared a traditional settlement and is awarded a protected status. Many interesting buildings still stand, such as the 18th century olive press, the church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) and that of Agios Sergios, the old school and the complex of the wells from the period of the Venetian occupation.
The community of Kefalas (GR:Κεφαλάς) is situated in Apokoronas, Hania, approximately 4 km to the east of Vamos. During the Venetian occupation higher and lower Kefalas were classed as two separate villages, however, today they have become one. It is a large village built in an outstanding position facing the sea with architecture dominated by the influence of the early and late years of the Turkish occupation. This influence is well preserved despite the existence of other architectural styles.
The church of Timios Stavros (16th century) is the oldest building of the village while the more recent churches of Panagia, Agios Antonios, and Michael the archangel, works of the reputed Kefalas craftsmen, are examples of folk architecture of the 19th century.
A further example of the work of the same craftsmen is the Public School of Kefalas, which in accordance with the decision of the county council of Hania will house the Environmental Educational Centre of the prefecture, a foundation that will play a definitive role in the development of the municipality of Vamos. Other interesting communities are Paleloni and Drapanos in the direction of Kokino Horio.
The road from Paleloni leads to Embrosgialo, a relatively easily accessible place, along the steep coastline, which extends to Georgioupoli.
Kokino Horio village
Kókino Horio (GR: Κόκκινο Χωρίο), which is located at a higher altitude, has maintained its traditional architectural style even more so than the other villages with its narrow roads, beautiful gates and tiled roofs.
A group of cisterns, built in a sloping field, gather the rainwater, an interesting example of local architecture, dealing with the permanent problem of lack of water.
Above Kokino Horio one can see the strangely shaped hill Drapanokefala or Calapodha (so named during the venetian occupation). The coastline northwest of the village is an extremely interesting place for a stroll due to the ground formation and the caves, such as the cave of Petsi (or Karavotopos).
Another cave called Katalimata, located at the centre of the village, is also an interesting site.
At cape Drapano, approximately 10 metres under water, is the impressive Elephant cave, an area 60mx60m full of stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes and colours.
Agios Myron town
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.
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.
Ano Asites village
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.
Kato Asites village
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 .
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.
One of the largest villages of Crete, in the north of the valley of the river Sarantapichos. It is 28 km away from Ierapetra and 40 km away from Aghios Nikolaos, in a verdurous slope within immense olive groves, with an unlimited view to the valley of Myrtos, the Libyan Sea and the mountain peaks that surround it.
Near the beautiful village of Vrahasi there is the imposing gorge of Selinari, formed by the mountain of Anavlohos (625 m) to the north and the mountain Fonias o Detis (818 m) to the south. The symbol of Crete, the Cretan wild goat (Agrimi or kri-kri) and the Griffon Vulture are two rare species that used to reside in the gorge. The authorities in Vrahasi intend to establish a center of protection of the local fauna and flora at the gorge of Selinari and to develop a wildlife station, to provide observation of the Griffon Vulture colony at the east side of the gorge of Selinari. The hunting is forbidden in an area covering 10 sq.km. around the gorge.
At the side of the gorge of Selinari, at the 42 km. of the national road Iraklion - Agios Nikolaos is the small old chapel and the newly founded monastery of Agios Georgios Selinaris. In the monastery there is also a home for the aged founded in 1963. The small chapel was probably founded early in the 16th century AD, and ever since it is a place of worshiping. The people passing through the chapel stop to light a candle to the saint. The chapel is considered miraculous, there are various legends concerning miracles related either with healing of sick people or with divine punishment of people that did not pay the respect due to the saint.
Sfakia, White Mountains
It is located at an altitude of 750 m, 50 km SE from the city of Hania and 20 km from the village of Vryses. Its population is approximately 500 people. The small villages that constitute the community of Askifou are Kares, Ammoudari, Goni and Petres. The most touristic organised of them is Ammoudari with restaurants, gas station, and some rooms for rent.
Agia Pelagia, Maleviziou, Iraklion N-W
Lygaria (also Ligaria GR: Λυγαριά) is a small seaside resort 2 kms to the east of Agia Pelagia. It is built in a small cove with a lovely sandy beach protected from the summer winds (Meltemi). Lygaria started as a residential area comprising of summer houses built mainly by residents of Heraklion but soon it has developed to a tourist resort. It has a couple of small taverns, hotels and cafes by the beach and it is very popular with tourists and locals alike. There is regular public bus transport from Heraklion. The distance from Heraklion is 19 kilometers via the national road.
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.
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