Surrounding Area

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Elounda

This is a world renowned tourism resort located to the north of Agios Nikolaos, having an indented coastline, shaded beaches, crystal clear seas, and a tranquil and heavenly environment.

It is 10km distance from Agios Nikolaos, and the cutting along the side of the road affords you the opportunity to admire the spectacular view of Mirambello Gulf and Korfos. The village is built on the southern coast of the Gulf of Elounda, 1km east of the ancient settlement of Olounda, from which it has taken its name. This used to be the favored place of legendary figures from Minoan Crete and of historical figures of our times.

The four villages of Elounda are spread out along the lower slopes of the approach to the Massif.

Pano and Kato Elounda, Mavrikiano and the new settlement of Skisma, the port of Elounda, bask in the glorious sea as it opens up before them offering its beauty and charm.

This sea, as described by Mr. Anestis Makridakis, glows like a sapphire under the azure light of the sky, rose-hued in summer afternoons, silvered on moonlit nights. It is a sea whose light infuses you gently but swiftly, having the power to touch you emotionally. To float in this sea, or to observe it from further away is like dreaming with open eyes.

This peaceful sea was used as a stop-over and refueling point during the period between both world wars by the UK’s Imperial Hydroplane Service The divine creator, in joyous and happy time of inspiration and joviality, did not skimp here with the colors, the lines or the boldness of combinations, giving a magical impression to the landscape. Here, lovers of the art of cinema, of the graphic arts, of music and poetry find an exceptional sight.

Elounda is a place-name that is easy to pronounce, but difficult to describe. It is a place that can only be experienced personally, to live forever thereafter in your dreams.

 

Kalo Chorio

When the Eastern sun East daily shines on the land, the places and the people, its rays bless the hallowed ground and bestow upon it innumerable virtues. Every waking day, this blessed place of Kalo Chorio relates and reconnects its existence with the sun and the sea, the mountain, the forests and the plain, to its people and their spirited ways.

Its natural environment, its visual impact, and its physical beauty remain unchanged as many centuries ago.

The well-known archaeological history of the place starts with settlements from the Minoan era found over a large area. Between 1910 and 1912, the American archaeologist Edith Hall uncovered the un-named small agricultural and cattle-breeding settlements on Brokrastre Hill. Next to here there is the settlement of Istrona, which has retained its name over many centuries (from the 6th century B.C. until the 18th century A.D.).

More details have been made available from the 1834 census, when Istrona had 20 Christian and 4 Muslim families.

In Roman times until the 9th century, when the Saracen Arabs reveled in their destruction of all Crete, Istron, later called Istronas, became the only main settlement in the area. A ruined ancient Greek temple is found near Pirgos, which might reveal some elements of the history of the place during its excavations. It could have been a temple dedicated to Bachuus (Dionisus), and thereafter the church of Saint Sergios, as has been reported by historians.

In the Venetian era, the entire valley was cleared and was desolate until 1450-1500A.D., when it was planted with olive trees and covered with watermills. It was in 1639 that the area was first called Kakon Chorion (euphemistically) because of the unfavourable climate and the malaria which was dredged up from the stagnant flood waters in the Kalochorian plain.

From 1680-1720 it appears that the new settlement "Arnikos"was inhabited. From these olden times, it seems that Istronas was the Pirgos of today.

From 1867, Kalo Chorio was a community settlement belonging to the Local Council of Kritsa, until 1925. During the years of Turkish domination between 1669-1898, Kalo Chorio was abound with stories of adventures between the local inhabitants and the Turks. In recent times, the agrarian and tourism industries have been developing, which will hopefully continue as this place is deserving of such progress.

 

 

Kritsa Village

If you wish to get to know the essence of the people from Kritsa, you must first gain an insight into the "soul" of their locality.

Only by understanding their interconnectedness with the natural environment, and the nuances of their actions and behaviour, will you have an appreciation of the character and soul of the Kritsan people. Kritsa is a unique community of people with their own cultural progression, their own tradition, and their own local dialect.

Their locality rises gradually from a place where the sun shines on the sea, to the highest peaks of the Dikti Mountains towards the west, creating two flat geological plains in between, one called the plain of Kritsa where the village is situated at the lowest point, beside abundant water springs and extensive olive groves, and another at the Plateau of Katharo.

The subtlety of the natural climatic changes of the area, and its high altitude shape the soul of its people, a soul that is rough-hewn, yet hospitable; a soul of the mountains… unwrought… fearless, like that of an eagle…, exposed; a soul also of the plain, with refinement and reverence;…a soul akin to the calm blue and restlessness of the foam of the Mirambelo seashores.

 

St Nicholas Chapel

North of the town of Agios Nikolaos on top of a small peninsula, the church of Saint Nikolaos, the oldest example of classic early Byzantine architecture, is located.

It is quite a small church that was built between the 7th and 9th century, during the Iconoclastic period, as indicated by its schematic decoration. Geometric and natural patterns, and intersecting circles unite to form multi-coloured leaves of bright colours, and schematic tree trunks with branches, in addition to diamond and rosette shapes comprise the interior decoration.

These illustrations had been super-imposed over the originals because of the ban on icon painting in churches imposed by the Byzantine emperors of the Isausus dynasty (712-802A.D.) which, having commenced in Istanbul, spread throughout the entire Byzantine Empire eventually reaching our town. When the church was being repaired during the 14th century, after suffering damage from the earthquake of 1303 that rocked and almost destroyed Crete, it was discovered that the schematic decorations had concealed the Christian paintings.

 

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos is one of the most important in Crete, and has been in operation since 1969. It houses collections of very important archaeological finds from the whole of Eastern Crete, an area extending from Malia as far as Zakros. These are displayed in chronological order from the Neolithic period (5700- 2800 B.C.) to the end of Roman times (100B.C.-400A.D.). Its showcases are decorated with more than 1500 vases from the third millennium B.C., and copper finds (the most ancient found in Crete).

 

Popular Art Museum

A window onto the recent past of Crete opens up for the visitor at the Folklore Museum of Agios Nikolaos.

Established in 1985 by the Cultural Association of Eastern Crete, it is housed on the ground floor of the Port Authority building, one of the oldest buildings in town, which is located by the lake.

There are many displays of traditional Cretan handcrafts, unique to the region such as textiles, woven goods and embroidery of intricate detail and imaginative designs.

A model of a traditional Cretan house, equipped with household goods and cooking implements has also been set up here. Books, manuscripts, old photographs, paintings, weapons, coins, multi-coloured woven rugs and examples of traditional Cretan costumes complete the collection.

These items have been donated to the Folklore Museum in recognition of the valuable role it plays in the preservation and display of the rich traditional heritage of everyday life in Crete.