Crete : Geography & Nature
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Agia Varvara town
Agia Varvára (GR: Αγία Βαρβάρα) is a town built along the road between the Messara plain and the Malevizi region at the highest point (580 m).
The town enjoys a unique location with a splendid view into the Malevizi region, and a cool climate, particularly pleasant during the hot summer months. It produces first-rate fruit and vegetables.
Because of its strategic location on the main north-south axis, the town was often exposed to fierce battles. A famous warrior, Mathiou Kapitakis or Mathioudakis was born here: he fought side to side with Karaiskakis and was killed at Faliro. His comrade-in-arms, Logios, was the hero of Aghios Thomas.
As you reach the village, on the north side there is a rock with a chapel dedicated to Profitis Ilias. On this rock -which used to be twice as large but part of it fell off at the beginning of the 19th century- there used to be an ancient temple.
Nowadays, the visitor can find every kind of commodity and facility on hand at the modern town of Aghia Varvara. In summer a special 'tsikoudia' feast, and in early spring a carnival feast are organized by the Cultural Association of the town.
At the centre of the town, there are two churches - one old and one new - both dedicated to the patron saint, Aghia Varvara. Three Byzantine churches are also well worth a visit: Profitis Ilias, Aghios Giorgos and Aghios Ioannis, and of course the old monastery of Aghia Pelagia by the cemetery.
A picturesque uninhabited small island of cedar forest, tempting golden beaches and the well preserved old church of Agios Nikolaos, only 8 miles off the port of Ierapetra, to the south. From the middle of May to the end of October, there are daily boat cruises to Chrissi island, departing from Ierapetra and Makrygialos. There is a bar restaurant at the south beach and a beach bar at the northern beach also known as "Golden Beach". The island belongs to the NATURA network due to its rare combination of ecosystems which form the habitats of several endemic species.
Zakros Gorge of Dead
Zakros, Sitia, East Crete
Within a few distance from the town of Zakros, starts the Gorge, which ends at the bay of Kato Zakros, almost near the Palace area. This gorge is of outstanding beauty, with large caves in its walls. In those caves were discovered tombs dated to the Minoan period, and finds of great archaeological importance. That is the reason why the caves are named "The Caves of Dead" and the gorge "The Gorge of Dead".
Because of its natural beauty and archaeological significance the gorge attracts numerous visitors every year.
Kenouriou, South Iraklion
Zaros (Greek: Ζαρός), at an altitude of 340 metres, is a town with a lake and gorge nearby. It has a couple of hotels and it is 44 km from Heraklion at the southern foothills of Mountain Psiloritis. The population of 3,400, produce olive oil, sultanas, vegetables and spring water. There are a couple of fish farms that serve both trout and salmon.
In Zaros, there are cafes near Lake Votomos, as well as a tavern that serves fresh trout called I Limni (The Lake). Close by is Rouvas Gorge, which is part of the Psiloritis mountain range and is on the hiking route known as the E4 European Walking Path. Nearby Zaros are traditional water mills which have been working since the 16th century, as well as archaeological sites and monasteries.
Zaros is also famous for its water "ZAROS" bottled by a company called Votomos SA.
Within a few distance from the village of Perivolia, starts the gorgeous canyon of Therisso (Theriano faragi or Eleftherios Venizelos Gorge), which leads to the village of Therisso at 580m a.s.l.
Six kilometers long, the gorge stretches like a snake, with high, almost vertical walls, and rich flora and fauna.It was a difficult to trespass gate, for the invaders, and that is the reason why Therisso was the center of the Cretan rebels during the 19th Century.
The authorities has recently renamed the gorge, giving to it the name of the great Cretan statesman, Eleftherios Venizelos, who's name is strongly related with the area.
Agios Nikolaos, Lassithi
Lake Voulismeni (Gr: Λίμνη Βουλισμένη) or just "the Lake" for the locals, is located at the centre of the town of Agios Nikolaos. It has a circular shape of a diameter of 137 m and depth 64 m. The lake connects to the harbour of the town by a channel dug in 1870.
A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from a small park situated above it. According to legend, the goddess Athena bathed in it. Every year at midnight turning to Orthodox Christian Easter day, the majority of the population of the town gathers around the lake to celebrate with fireworks, and firecrackers.
It was reported that the German army during their withdrawal from the area at WW2, disposed parts of their weaponry and/or vehicles into the deep lake.
A local urban legend has it that the lake is bottomless. That notion is potentially based on its impressively disproportional high depth compared to its width (64m depth on only 134m width) or/and on locals noticing disturbances at the surface or also the level of the water during the Santorini (Thera) earthquake of 1956. Because of the latter, many assume a possible geological relation of the two locations, but this claim has not been substantiated by known scientific surveys to date.
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.
A monument of natural beauty that attract a lot of local and foreign visitors. The gorge of Sarakina (GR: Σαρακίνα) is one of the most beautiful in Crete. Its steep, vertical walls in some parts reach a height up to 250 m. Its widest opening is no more than 15 metres while in some places it’s so narrow that its sides seem to join each other. Its rich flora and fauna, the dittany, the wild birds that nest there, the running water make the route through the gorge a worthwhile experience.
The area of Akrotiri
A guide to the area of Akrotiri. Tourist facilities, regional information and image gallery. Akrotiri with its scenic landscape provides a relaxing, refined country break away from the pressures of urban life. Its numerous monasteries, from the oldest in Crete, played a significant role in the history of the area. Gorges of outstanding beauty offer a unique hiking experience, breathtaking views and the joy of exploration...
Zakros, Sitia, East Crete
The cave, with impressive stalagmites and stalactites, is located near the sea (~200m), at Pelekitá (GR: Πελεκητά), a place 3km away from the Palace of Zakros (~1 hour walk)and above the small bay of Karoumbi. In this cave were discovered signs of neolithic habitation. Its entrance is at 105m above sea, it is 310m long and its area is approximately 4.500m2. A little further there was found also the quarry from where the ancients took the stones to built their Palace (hence the name "Pelekita"). The cave is also known as "Sikias Spilios" (the fig tree's cave) due to the fig tree that is located at its entrance. The view to the sea from there is magnificent.
Rodakino, South Rethymno
At the end of the canyon that traverses the area of Rodakino lies the beach of Korakas at the bay of the same name. It is a nice, wide and 400m long beach, with clear waters and small grayish sand and pebbles. There are a few accommodation options in family run apartment complexes and a few taverns on the beach front. Umbrellas and sun beds are also available at the eastern part. The headland to the east separate Korakas Beach from another lovely beach named "Klimata". At the east side of that headland there is a small fishing harbour and along its coast there are sharp rocks in the shape of a crow's beak (Kórakas GR: Κόρακας, means crow) thus giving the name to the bay.
Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Mires, Messara Valley
It is located north of Mires close to a small gorge, with springs and covered with trees. There are many churches in the village the most important one being the church of Agios Nikolaos, a domed church dated to the 13th century. The walls of the temple are hand painted with biblical scenes and pictures of saints
The traditional little village of Vrisses lies approx. 35 km from Chania town. The old village square with its tall plane trees, the tavernas and kafenions is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush green landscape by the river Vrissanos and taste the renowned and particularly delicious local yogurt.
Dia (GR: Δία & Ντία) is an uninhabited island approximately 7 nautical miles north of Heraklion. It is surrounded by small rocky inlets and its maximum length is 5kms while its maximum width 3kms. Dia is one of NATURA's protected areas due to its status as a biotope for endemic plants and for plants with low dispersal within the Southern Aegean.
A small village 21km away from Kastelli Kissamou,at 340 m. a.s.l with 57 permanent residents. The village is mentioned by Fr. Barozzi since 1577. A little before the village of Sassalos, starts the gorge of Salasse, a small one which leads to Tyflos river, and is worthy to walk.
Marine Life Museum of Rethymnon
Rethymnon Old Town
The Museum of Submarine Life is situated at Arapatzoglou street, at the center of Rethymno's old city. It was founded by the "Moshaki" family, in memory of their lost child, who drowned in the sea. The largest part of the exhibits are made up of shells, while a few vertebrates, sponges and fish are also on display.
Sirikari (GR Σηρικάρι) is a small village located 52 km away from Hania and 14 km from Kastelli at 500m a.s.l. The name Sirikari probably comes from the profession of the first settler, who has to be a silk weaver (Sirikaris).
A short ravine starts from Sirikari and ends close to Polyrinia. There is also a chestnut tree forest, the cave of the Holy Mother (Panagias), the byzantine church of Agii Apostoli, with frescoes of 14th century a monument of great importance and two old factories.
Dóxa (GR: Δόξα) is a pretty village built on a height of 400 metres above sea-level and 20 kilometres to the west of Heraklion on the road to the mountainous Milopotamos.
The historical cave of Dóxa (GR: Δόξα) is located in a short distance from the village of Marathos on the road to Heraklion. It is at a height of 490 metres above sea-level, near a well-known taverna also called DOXA.
The cave has a total length of 50 metres and impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
Fourokatos (The wild cat of Crete)
Felis Sylvestris Cretensis
The existence of the animal was conjectured by zoologist Dorothea Bate in 1905, upon purchasing three hides in Chania. No less than 88 years later, Greek and Italian researchers managed to catch an aging individual in the Platanos Amariou region after electronic stalking that lasted for several months. More recently, this cat was captured in one of many photo-traps set for this purpose on Rouvas mountain by the researchers of the National History Museum of Crete.
Vlatos is located at 380m a.s.l., 54 km away from Hania and 18 km from Kastelli Kissamou. It is built in a tree covered valley, with olive trees, chestnut trees and wild vegetation. There are some very nice trekking paths around and in the forest of "Peace" which has been characterized as a natural park.
The "Park of Peace" was founded in 1970 by the Cultural Association of Vlatos with the cooparation of Goethe Institute and the support of the Bavarian Department of Forests.
It is an experimental park with 150 species of plants, covers an area of 1,000,000 sq.m. and is part of an extended area of 20 sq.km. which have been reforested.
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