Crete : Regional Interest
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Agios Pavlos Beach
at 0km (N)
The beach of Agios Pavlos is about 60 km from Rethymno and can be easily reached through an asphalt road.
In fact, Agios Pavlos is a small settlement on a beautiful, picturesque cove. Around and close to the beach there are some small hotels and taverns and right on the beach a beautiful cafe / bar.
West of the small settlement at a place known as Alatsogremni (Cliffs of salt) are the famous dunes of Agios Pavlos. Although dunes are not rare in the south coast of Crete, those are very impressive. High dunes that end in crystal clear, turquoise waters. A landscape of unique natural beauty that is worth seeing.
The scenery is even more imposing late in the afternoon, when the sun is setting and the sand gets a golden hue. It looks like an image coming from another world.
Between the small beach at Agios Pavlos and the Dunes we find the area of Apoplystra with the unique rock formations. From the beach of Agios Pavlos climb a wooden staircase and you are in front of a unique spectacle. Rocks sculpted by salt water, in various shapes and wonderful colors.
at 9.9km (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.
Messara Bay, Iraklion
at 10.8km (S)
Two small dry and uninhabited islets off the bay of Messara, ~7.5 naut. miles to the west of Matala. Due to their close proximity to one another the two islands appear as one from a distance. They are also called "elephantaki" as from north they look like a baby elephant that is lying down. In mythology it is believed that the goddess Lito gave birth to the god Apollon and the goddess Artemis on these islands. In antiquity they were called Dionissioi after the god Dionissos.
During the summertime there are small cruising boats that bring tourists here from Agia Galini and Kokkinos Pyrgos. There is only a small beach with fine pebble and rich seabed at the south side of the easternmost islet.
Agia Galini town
at 11.1km (E)
A seaside town of the municipality of Agios Vassilios. It is a well organized tourist resort with comfortable hotels, apartments, camping sites, tourist agencies, car-renting offices, restaurants, tavernas and other recreation centres, as well as all the facilities required by tourists and locals alike. There is also a port and port - custom authorities.
Agios Vassilios, Rethymnon south
at 11.7km (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 13.3km (N)
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.
Messara bay, Iraklion South
at 15.5km (E)
Kokkinos Pirgos (GR: Κόκκινος Πύργος) is a small coastal community, 2km away from Timbaki with a nice, long sandy beach, one of the longest in Crete, and a clear transparent sea. The part of the beach to the north west of the harbour is called Makrimaliana (or Kakoskalo) and the south east part of it is called Katalyki . The harbour in front of the village of Kokkinos Pirgos, offers docking facilities for sailing and fishing boats. There are hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. across the harbour and along the beach. You can always find good fresh fish in the taverns of the village. Kokkinos Pirgos (meaning red tower) , took its name from a castle that use to be there during the Middle Ages, which was built by red clay earth.
Agios Vassilios, South Rethymnon
at 15.8km (NW)
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.
at 16.4km (E)
The village of Apodoulou is located 55 km from Rethimno at an altitude of 450m. Remains of an extensive centre of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.) have been uncovered.at the site called Gournes, near the village of Apodoulou, at the west foot of Psiloreitis. The site dominates the Amari valley and controls the main route to the Messara plain. Excavations have brought to light three building complexes while tholos tombs of the Postpalatial period (1380-1200 B.C.) have also been located in the adjacent area.
The first excavations on the site were carried out by S. Marinatos in the 1930's. During World War II it was excavated by the German Archaeological Institute, under the direction of E. Kirsten. Since 1985, systematic excavations have been carried out by the Greek Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the University of Naples.
The most important monuments on the site are:
Building A. It lies on the east side of the hill, to the south of the massive retaining wall. It had two storeys, as is indicated by the two preserved steps of a staircase. Decades of pithoi and other vases found on the ground floor suggest that it was used for storage. The house was destroyed by fire which followed an earthquake.
Building B, located to the north of the retaining wall. It is a complex of rooms which originally communicated with Building A.
Building C. It lies to the east of house A and belongs to a later phase of the settlement.
Tholos tomb at Sopatakia. Tholos tomb with dromos, lying to the east of the road that leads from Apodoulou to Nithavris. The dromos is 7 m. long and the chamber has a diameter of 3.10 m. Three larnakes were found inside the burial chamber. Dated to 1380-1200 B.C.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Agios Vassilios, Rethymno (South)
at 18.5km (NW)
A sea side village, 40 km south from Rethimno, with 237 permanent residents, built at the cove of the bay of the same name on a wonderful sandy beach, 1300 m long, between the capes Stavros and Kako Mouri, that is ideal for swimming and sea sports. The natural beauty of the place helped Plakias to become a renowned tourist resort now providing all the facilities that a visitor could wish. It belongs to the municipality of Finikas.
Sivritos (Ancient) - Thronos village
at 18.5km (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.
Messara, Iraklion South
at 18.7km (E)
The town of Timpaki (GR: Τυμπάκι) is located in the west edge of the plain of Messara, 65.3km away from the city of Iraklion. It is a rich and busy town with significant economic activity especially due to the early vegetables production in the wider area. There are banks, a post office, medical centers, stores, schools, hotels, restaurants, ect to cover both the needs of the locals and visitors.
Kalamaki village & beach
Messara bay, Iraklion South
at 19.3km (SE)
A small coastal village with a long sandy beach is becoming very popular with tourists due both its natural beauty and its proximity to Phaistos, Gortys and other important sites. There are quite few hotels, apartments etc and taverns, cafes by the beach.
Kommos beach and arch. site
Messara Bay, Iraklion
at 20.3km (SE)
One of the most beautiful sandy beaches of Crete, extends from a clump of rocks riveted in the shallow waters in the south to the Kalamaki settlement in the North. In Minoan times there used to be the ancient port of Phaistos. The antiquities lie just a few meters away from the sea.
Messara, South - West Iraklion
at 20.7km (SE)
Matala (GR: Μάταλα) was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys and a former fishing community which has developed into a modern holiday center. It is located 4 km south-west of the village of Pitsidia and 75 km from Iraklion. It is built on the coast line of the Messara bay inside a small and picturesque inlet. During the 60's the caves of Matala were hosting a hippie commune.
Matala, South - West Iraklion
at 21km (SE)
The Red beach is located around 700m south from Matala. It is a beautiful secluded beach with fine reddish sand originating from the rocks of the area. The name "Red Beach" is given by the visitors due to its reddish color while its original name is Ammoúdia (GR: Αμμούδια). The sea gets a lovely blue-green color, making the landscape really unique. The only way to access Red Beach is on foot or by boat from Matala. The walk from Matala takes about 20 minutes and it can't be considered as an easy one. Red Beach however can get pretty crowded in the high season. There is a small stone-wall canteen offering snacks and drinks and a few umbrellas and sun-beds.
Nudism is tolerated at the two ends of the beach.
Agia Triada Arch. Site
Archaeological Site in Messara, S-W Iraklion
at 21.1km (E)
The "Royal Villa" at Ayia Triada which is situated very close to Phaistos, was built in about 1550 BC. i.e. just before the new palace at Phaistos, and was destroyed by fire in l450 BC, like all other important Minoan centres. It succeeded the first palace at Phaistos as the economic and administrative centre of the regions depriving the new palace there of this role, and appears to have had connections with Knossos. The two wings, with an open-air space between them, consisted of groups of interconnecting rooms (polythyra), storerooms and stairways. On the site of the ruins, a Mycenaean megaron, the so-called "Agora" and an open - air shrine were subsequently built.
In the villa's disaster layer from the fire in 1450 BC, excavation revealed a valuable group of exceptional works of art, precious materials, records in Minoan script and seals. The famous black serpentine vessels, the "Harvesters' Vase", the "Boxers' Vase" and the "Chieftain ‘ s Cup", the wall paintings depicting the natural landscape, the sarcophagus, the bronze and clay figurines of worshipers and the copper ingots from the Treasury are among the most noteworthy findings.
Messara, Iraklion South
at 21.7km (E)
Kamilari is a quiet, traditional village, with a panoramic view to the endless olive groves of the Messara valley on the one side, and to the Libyan sea on the other side. It has been inhabited since the Minoan period. One of the seven wise men of the ancient world, Epimenidis, a great wise man and a soothsayer, lived in a small community outside Kamilari, called Metohi.
Messara, Iraklion South
at 21.8km (SE)
The village of Pitsidia is located 65 km southwest of Iraklion at an altitude of 80 m a.s.l, just before the magnificent bay of Messara. The village with aproximately 700 inhabitants is the oldest village of the area and is refered (by S. Spanakis) that it was the place where the soldiers of Nikiforos Fokas, commander of the Byzantine army, settled. The army, famous for its bravery, came from Pisidia of the south Asia Minor, and this is probably the origin of the name Pitsidia.
The Museum of Cretan Ethnology
Voroi, Messara, Iraklion
at 22.7km (E)
The exhibited objects in the Museum come from all over Crete. These objects show that the folk culture of Crete is characterized by an amalgam of influences in which Minoan (2000-1000 BC), Archaic (1000-500 BC) and Byzantine models prevail, especially in agriculture, stock breeding, pottery and basketry.
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