he plateau of Askifou
, formed by the mountains of Kastro
on the West and the mountain range of "Horeftes"
, offers a magical view to the visitor. The view is incomparable when the plateau is covered with snow in the winter, and when is green in the spring.
It is located at an altitude of 750 m, and it is 50 km from the city of Hania
and 20 km from the village of Vrisses. Its population is approximately 500 people.
The small villages that constitute the community of Askifou are Kares
. The most touristic organised of them is Ammoudari with restaurants, gas station, and some rooms for rent.
The name Askifou is probably derived from the ancient word "Skifos"
, meaning cup, because the plateau looks like a big cup. Most of the times in winter the plateau is covered with snow. In a house in Ammoudari there is (said to be) the only fir-tree in Crete
The main occupation of the inhabitants is sheep and goat raising and there are many cheese dairies where the visitor can buy some excellent cheese like athotiros
. During November, in many houses they produce the famous raki,
Siglina from the local cuisine.
the alcoholic liquor from grapes.
The plateau receives many visitors, especially the last years, mainly passengers on their way to and from Hora Sfakion
, or hikers climbing in the nearby mountains. In the plateau there is a Post Office with exchange.
There are some rooms for rent and some taverns where the visitor can enjoy the famous Sfakian specialities like the Sfakian pies
(cheese pies with honey) and the delicious "siglina"
(pork meat smoked with aromatic herbs).
A big public feast is taking place every year on the celebration of the Pentecost (first week of June) , in the chapel built on the plateau of Tauris
, at an altitude of 1000 m.
The shelter in the plateau of Tauris.
After the divine service, in accordance with the Sfakian customs, delicious food and excellent wine are offered to all visitors.The plateau of Askifou is considered the Thermopylaes of Sfakia, because the only way to the Hora Sfakion and the surrounding coastal area is through this plateau. In Askifou, in the 21st of August 1866, met the General Congress that declared the union of Crete with the rest of Greece, and abolished the Turkish authority to Crete.
From Askifou the visitor can enjoy a walk to the White Mountains
. The distance from Ammoudari to the plateau of Tauris where a shelter is placed, is 7 km, and the walk through the path takes about 1,5 hours. Continuing for another 1 km. is the plateau of Niatos
(altitude 1200 m) above which are the imposing mountain peaks of the White Mountains, Kastro
(2218 m) and on the right Fanari
(2190 m), which can be reached with a four hours climbing.