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Chania city A first-time visitor to Chania city is surprised by the great number of buildings and monuments with traces of great history and culture. The old town is located on and around the hill of Kasteli and was built over the ruins of the Minoan city Kydonia. It is surrounded by the Byzantine walls, the Venetian walls and the sea. The town of Chania, the first capital of Crete, kept its historical centuries-old heritage almost unaffected. Its flair has attracted scientists, philosophers, poets and artists from different countries and it has become a cultural centre. The Minoan civilization left behind grand tombs and interesting pottery objects. During the Venetian and the Ottoman rule, people of different nationalities and religions co-existed. Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), Jews and Muslims, have left discernible traces and produced particularly interesting creations. In the neighborhood of Topanas with its narrow paved streets, the visitor meets…
Agios Nikolaos city  The city of Agios Nikolaos is built on the location of the ancient "Lato pros Kamara - port of Lato Etera". Both towns formed one administrative unit, which flourished during the 3rd century. Both worshipped goddess Elithyeia (goddess of childbirth) and they had the same coins - with Elithyeia or Artemis (Diana) on one side and Hermes Lation on the other - as well as their own economy. The Latians, contrary to other towns, which were almost constantly in war with other cities, were in good terms with their adjoining cities of Elounda, Driros, Milatos and Minoa. There is not enough reference about the Byzantine period. During the Venetian occupation (1204-1669) Genoan pirates built a castle on top of the Kefali hill (prefecture hill), which was renamed by the Venetians to Merabello and gave its name to the whole region. The castle has been destroyed by the…
The Village of Krasi The village of Krasi is about 47 km away from Heraklion. It is situated west of the foot of Mount Selena (1559 m altitude, at the southern edge of a small plateau. At the top of the village there is a large water reservoir called “Megali Vrisi” by the local people. Its abundant waters supply the village and water a large area of the plateau. The water reservoir was built in 1890, as an inscription on it suggests. It is a large rectangular stone-built construction, consisting of the reservoir and three arched openings on its northern side. Two of these openings were used to water animals in stone basins. In front of the reservoir and after the asphalt street there is a small square with a centuries-old plane tree. Writers and scholars like Nikos Kazantzakis, the Alexiou family, Markos Avgeris and Kostas Varnalis used to visit…
Lake Kournas Kournas lake is the only natural lake in Crete. It is fed by the waters coming down from the mountains, and from two sources located in the southeastern part of the lake, while drained, through the river of Delfinas, on the beach of Kournas which is 2,5 km further north. The abundant water throughout the year, makes the lake an important wetland area with a variety of flora and fauna, and so it is included in the Natura 2000 protection program. Kournas lake is surrounded by hills, just a few kilometres away from the sea and at the boundaries of Chania and Rethymno. The lake was known as Korisia in antiquity and is nowadays a destination attracting thousands of visitors every year. The lake’s water increases during winter, from adjacent sources in the mountains and decreases in summer revealing a gold sandy strip. The shallow clear waters at…
Samaria Gorge The Samaria Gorge is a National Park of Greece on the island of Crete - a major tourist attraction of the island - and a World's Biosphere Reserve. The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and Mt. Volakias. There are a number of other gorges in the White Mountains. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but one has to walk…
Melidoni Cave The Melidoni Cave is located about 1800 metres northwest of a village with the same name. It has an extremely interesting history and amazing archaeological findings some of which are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno. The Melidoni Cave is also called "Gerondospilios". It was used for religious ceremonies. During the Minoan Civilization, it was a place of worship for Talos the bronze giant guardian of Crete who protected the island of Crete from enemies. It is of archaeological and historical interest. In October 1823, 370 women and children and 30 warriors who hid from Hussein Bey sought refuge in the Melidoni cave. When he found out, the cave was surrounded by his army and he asked Cretan people to surrender. When they refused to do so, Ottomans started to attack them. Three months later they dropped combustible materials into an opening leading to the cave and…
Diktaion Antron On the northern slopes of Mt. Dicte and the southeastern slopes of Mountain Sarakinos, at a height of 1,025 m, lies the Psychro Cave, also known as Diktaion Antron, an ancient site of worship and one of Crete’s most important and impressive Caves. There are two paved paths leading up to the cave, starting from the parking area and passing through a dense forest that creates a green zone in this wild and rocky landscape. The discovery of the cave by villagers in 1883 attracted some of the era’s well-known archaeologists. Thus three years later, Federico Halbherr and Joseph Chatzidakis arrived and excavated a small area in front of its inlet, while at the same time gathering objects found by villagers. In 1894, Arthur Evans purchased objects that had come from the cave; in 1895 he revisited the site and discovered part of an inscribed offering table, while…
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