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Rethymno Attractions Outside City

Kourtaliotis Gorge

Kourtaliotis Gorge

kourtaliotiko-gorge

 

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The Gorge of Kourtaliotis is located 22km south of Rethymno and has a length of 3km. It is one of the most spectacular natural attractions of Rethymnon. It starts from the village Koxare and flows between the mountains Kouroupis (984 m) and Xiro Oros (Dry Mountain - 904m). The huge cliffs of the canyon reach a height of 600 meters and are full of openings and caves, where significant fauna species live. The canyon is crossed by the Kourtaliotis River which flows up to Lake Preveli, after merging with Frati Gorge. In its latest part it is called Big River.
It is a wonderful gorge worth visiting and walking along its riverbed, while playing with water. The canyon is crossed by a road, but walking in it is really nice. By following the steps at the side of street Koxare – Asomatos, you reach the bottom of the gorge, where the church of St. Nicholas is located. The springs of Kourtaliotis, near the chapel, are one of the nicest attractions of the gorge.
This area in south central coast of Crete is very important for the conservation of endangered birds of prey like vulture, since it hosts one of the last breeding pairs in the Balkans. Here others species find shelter such as buzzards, the Golden Eagle and Bonelli's Eagle. Kourtaliotiko has excellent aesthetic, biological and ecological value. In addition to the clusters of Theophrastus Palm trees (Phoenix theophrastii) which is the second largest palm forest of Crete, on the slopes of the gorge someone can find rich vegetation, while in the estuary of the river there are sand dunes and formations of posidonia (Posidonia oceanica), which are among the most protected marine plants. Important animals of the region of Kourtaliotiko gorge is the waterturtle (Mauremys caspica) and the local fresh-water snake (Elaphe situla)

Agia Galini

Agia Galini

 

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Agia Galini is 61 km southeast of Rethymno and 68 km southwest of Heraklion, about midway along the south coast of Crete.
Agia Galini, with its strange but apt name (meaning "Saint Serenity", or "Holy Peace"), is a small, labyrinthine village built in the shape of an amphitheatre and surrounded by three mountains: Asideroto, Kedros and Psiloritis. It opens out into a pretty, picturesque harbour which is particularly busy in summer.
The small old houses of the village seem squashed by the larger apartments springing up in the area and the hotels in Agia Galini, built in an effort to accommodate rising numbers of visitors.
Agia Galini is a famous resort with a good beach, one of the first tourist resorts in Crete.
The small harbour of Agia Galini, right in front of the village, provides a safe haven for the pleasure yachts and sailing boats that cluster here every summer. For lovers of the sea, Agia Galini, partly due to its name, is a favourite destination or a peaceful stop for some fish and supplies.
What makes Agia Galini unique is the amphitheatrical layout of its houses on the hill, offering a wonderful view of the harbour and the Bay of Messara. The view of the village from the harbour is equally lovely, especially at dusk and at night.

In Agia Galini you can find some of the most luxury Villas in Crete.

Kournas Lake

Kournas Lake

 

kournas-lake

Lake Kourna is the only lake with fresh water in Crete. It is situated in a magnificent location, just 4km away from Georgioupolis Chania. It is a rather small lake, known from antiquity with the name Korisia. Lake Kournas is a remarkable destination for an afternoon walk or a day trip. The relaxing and beautiful landscape is ideal for nature lovers. In Lake Kournas, there are two fountains with only one of them being visible, especially during the end of the summer: the Eye, as the locals call the fountain. This natural lake was created by the holdback of the underwater that comes from the White Mountains, the resistant rocks and the lie of the natural cavity. Basically the lake is a huge hollow which is fed from the southeast side with water due to its soil. Lake Kournas is an important part of the Greek ecosystem, as it is one of the few areas in Crete where there is abundant fresh water throughout the year. This is one of the reasons that the Lake Kournas is a protected area by the Natura 2000 Network. The lake is surrounded by a greenery environment with rare plants and trees. The dark color of the lake is caused from the seaweeds coming from the depth of the lake. Many animals find shelter here. Lake Kournas is a favorite destination for both locals and tourists. It is the ideal location for a relaxing walk around the transparent water of the lake. On the one side of the lake there are cafeterias and taverns, offering a remarkable view to the lake. You can swim in the magnificent small beaches with white sand, located next to the cafeterias. Also visitors can do pedals here to explore the lake.

Argiroupoli Village

Argiroupoli Village

 

argyroupolis-rethymno

Argiroupolis is the site of the ancient city of Lapa. According to the myths, Lapa was created by Agamemnon, the hero of the Trojan war. The older coins of the city show the goddess Vritomartis Artemis, who was a Cretan goddess influenced by the Minoan religion. In the Greek wars they were allies of Knossos but when Knossos destroyed Lyttos the people of Lapa accepted the Lyttoans in their city and their homes.
Lapa was one of the most important cities of western Crete during Roman times. It controlled the area around it from the north to the south coast. It had two harbours, one on the north coast of Crete and another on the south. It is said that its harbour was Finix on the south coast of Crete in present-day Loutro. The coins of Lapa at this time had a representation of Poseidon on them.
Lapa was also important during Byzantine times but it was destroyed by the Arabs in 828 A.D.
Today many buildings and churches have been constructed using stones and other building materials from the ancient cities and the more recent Venetian buildings.

Anogeia - Idaion Andro

Anogeia - Idaion Andro

Ideon-Andron

The village of Anogia (or Anogeia) is located in the Prefecture of Rethymnon.
Recently Anogia has become a popular stop for tourists. It is one of the major handicraft and cottage industry centres on Crete. Many workshops are open to the public and it is possible to see cloth being woven on large looms. There are many tavernas, cafes, restaurants and also limited accommodation.
Anogia took part in all of Crete's struggles for liberation, the men of the area are reputed to be fierce fighters. During World War II it was a major centre for the resistance movement and it paid dearly for its involvement. In 1944, resistance fighters kept the kidnapped German General Von Kreipe prisoner here before smuggling him into Africa. In retaliation, German forces razed every building except the church and killed all the men they could find.

Anogia is the birthplace of many famous local folclore singers such as Nikos Ksilouris.
According to legends, the Ideon Cave was the birthplace of Zeus. In the myth, Rhea brought the infant Zeus to the Ideon cave to protect him from his father, Kronos, who would have swallowed him alive, as he had previously done with his brothers and sisters. Here he was nursed by the goat nymph, Amalthia. He was protected by the Kuretes (5 Cretans) who danced and clashed their weapons to cover the cries of the baby Zeus. This myth will be disputed by those that believe that Zeus was raised in the Dikteon Andron in the plateau of Lassithi.
In another variation of the myth, the baby Zeus was born in the Dikteon Andron Cave, while the infant Zeus grew up in the Ideon Andron among the shepherds of the Nida Plateau. Zeus is often called “Cretagenis”, e.g. born in Crete. According to Cretans, Zeus was not immortal, in contrast to the Classical Greek belief; he died and was reborn every year. The head of the dead Zeus can be seen in the outline of Mount Youktas, outside Iraklion. This belief of Cretans, continues traditions of the old Minoan religion (in which the Young God died and was reborn every year) to the Greek religion.
Historically, it is clear that both the caves in the Lassithi Plateau and the cave in Nida were sanctuaries during Minoan and early Greek times. The cave of Trapeza in Lassithi was used very early in Minoan times, but later it lost its significance to the cave of Dikteon Andron, also in the Lassithi Plateau, and the latter seems also to have been replaced in importance by the cave of Ideon Andron in Nida during Greek and Roman times.
Excavations in the cave uncovered finds dating as far back as late Neolithic times. During Minoan times, the cave was a place of worship of the fertility goddess. Later it became the place of worship for the cult of Zeus.
The cave is 1,540 metres above sea level.
It contains a large chamber at the opening and two horizontal chambers that open to the inner sanctum of the cave. Excavations are in progress and the cave is now closed to the public.
The original excavations were done by Professor Marinatos and revealed the Greek and Roman use of the cave. The recent excavations in the cave are concerned with the finds of the lower deposits in the cave. The cave is known to have been used in the Neolithic Age. Recently, a superb bronze shield was found intact.

Mili Gorge

Mili Gorge

 

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Mili Gorge. 7 km outside Rethymno, to the south, up on the hills, it is an idyllic one-day tour for those who like to walk in the country. A real paradise, a place of purifying harmony, beauty and peace, the splendour of nature. A walk to another world, unspoiled and uplifting, untouched from progress or tourism, in the green, between trees and plants, along little steams, under the songs and sounds of many kind of birds. Old and now deserted watermills, along the stream, were supplying Rethymno with flour during the last centuries, giving the name to the old and the new settlements. Taking Theotokopoulou street, passing from Evligias hill, with the pine tree forest, the road comes to the Nunnery of Agia Irini. It was founded in 981 and it is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It was completely destroyed by the Turks at 1896 and it was restored on 1989. 2 km after, there is the new village of Mili from where you can get down to Mili gorge and the old settlement. Taking the gorge to the end, it leads back to the coast of Rethymno.

Margarites –The pottery village

Margarites –The pottery village

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The village of Margarites Μαργαρίτες, is 30 km south east from Rethymnon town in the centre of the island of Crete in Greece.

Located in picturesque green rolling hills, the village is well known for its pottery, and attracts large tour buses in the busy season. After the rushed tourists have left, it is then possible to stroll around this very charming village and enjoy the many pottery studios.
The tradition of pottery goes back many generations in this village and you will be able to find an elder to show you how the pots are hand thrown.


The village, which has some extraordinary architecture and lovely narrow winding streets, is well worth exploring.

Melidoni Village & Melidoni Cave

Melidoni Village & Melidoni Cave

 

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Leaving Rethimno to the east you can either strike immediately onto the new national (not so big) road for a flat, fast route or maybe and much better follow the old road.
And enjoy the small villages the great Cretan landscape, warm hospitable people. Especially the mainland of Rethymno prefecture hides many secrets waiting to be revealed.
A great tip is the village of Melidoni and the Melidoni Cave one of the most impressive on the island.
Melidoni cave is just 2km away from the village of Melidoni, near Rethymno, at an altitude of 220m.  You will reach it by following the signs to Perama (about 25km from Rethymno) and Melidoni, from the old national road.
The village of Melidoni and the cave were named after Antonios Melidonis, one of the protagonists of the rebellion against the Turks, who originated from the village.
Gerontospilios is very important due to the archeological findings, some of which are exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Rethimnon. Moreover, the cave has played a tragic role in the history of Cretan revolution against the Turks, in 1824.The cave became more infamous in 1824 when, during the Revolution some 250 unarmed villagers, including women and children were suffocated when the entrance was sealed and fires lit by the Turks thrown in to the cave following a three month siege.
Not until 1834 when the English explorer Robert Pashley visited Melidoni did Manolis Kirmizakis, the only survivor of the events, inspect the cave discovering the bones of the martyrs. Today there is a large sarcophagus within the cave containing the bones of those killed and the monument is now considered extremely important in defining the independent Cretan character.
A small chapel is built in the entrance of the cave where the victims are commemorated every year.
Now back to mythology Talos lived here, a prehistoric giant robot that Zeus gave to King Minos as a present to protect the island of Crete by crossing it from side to side with just a few steps! The cave’s history goes back to the late Neolithic period, as indicated by the various Neolithic tools and items found inside it. During the middle Minoan period (2100 – 1600 B.C) the cave was a worship site, probably of some female deity.
Among the findings is a double copper axe was found dating back to this period. During the Roman period the cave was used as a sanctuary of “Taleos Hermes” and sacrifices were performed here to honor him. The cave was actually a significant sacred site in the region, as it was situated on the “crossroad” of three great ancient cities: Axos, Eleftherna and Grivilon.

Monastery of Preveli

Monastery of Preveli

Monastery-of-Preveli

The Holy Monastery of Preveli in Rethymnon Crete: The important monastery of Preveli sits on the rocky hills of Preveli canyon, on the southern side of Rethymnon prefecture, Crete. It consists of two monasteries, the Lower or Kato Preveli and the Upper or Pisso Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos, about 3 km far from Kato Preveli, which is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The monasteries date back to the middle 16th century. Many times along their history, they were destroyed but they were always restored. It is said that the monastery owes its name from the noble Preveli family from Rethymnon town who contributed in its restoration in the 18th century. Kato Preveli is a typical Orthodox monastery with the church of John the Baptist in the centre. The buildings in the rectangular courtyard constitute the cells of the monks and some additional buildings. The monks spend most time of the year here rather than in Pisso Preveli, which is deserted today but still makes a beautiful sight nestled among the mountains. Many valuable relics and icons of the monastery were looted during the wars. The remaining collections can be seen at the Ecclesiastical Museum of Kato Preveli, where there are religious garments, relics, icons from the 17th century and a historical cross that depicts the Baptism of Jesus Christ and was used as a banner in wars. Kato Preveli Monastery consists of a double aisled basilica with a complex of buildings around it holding the dining hall, the food cellars, guest reception and meeting halls. Near the large dining hall is the monk's hostel which has exits to the slopes of the mountains, which was very useful in times of war in the past. An old fountain with the inscription 1701 is still used as water source. In the interior, the icons of Saint John and Saint Charalambos and the biblical frescoes are works of artists from the Cretan school of Art and date from the 16th century. The Monastery of Preveli served as a refuge for soldiers and rebellions in the many wars of Crete for liberation. The monks of the monastery have always played an important role in the history of Crete, providing shelter to the Cretan soldiers even though their lives were put in danger. The monastery today is open to visit and offers excellent views to the mountainous landscape of Crete

Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery

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The Monastery of Arkadi (GR:Αρκάδι) constitutes a landmark of architecture and civilisation considering the magnificent facade of the church, the highly developed spiritual tradition as well as the flourishing development of fine arts. However, the holocaust, which took place in 1866, gave the monastery an eminent place in history, elevating it to an eternal symbol of freedom and heroism, which is acknowledged the world over. The Monastery of Arkadi lies on a low plateau, 23 kilometres from the town of Rethymno. Built during the last Venetian period, it consists of a large set of fortress-like buildings. The main building included the cells, the warehouses where the agricultural products were treated and stored, the stables. In a word, it was a well-equipped little fortress where people could find refuge in times of trouble.
The elaborate central entrance was restored just four years after the 1866 explosion. It leads to the interior court, through a vaulted passage. In the middle of the court, stands the impressive church, with its two naves dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, and to Our Lord. Completed in 1587, its facade clearly shows the different currents in the development of Cretan art during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the south-west corner of the church, one can still see a section of the burnt iconostasis that survived the 1866 holocaust. The church is surrounded by a large and roomy precinct and the vaulted passages with their row of arches have retained their grandeur. The cells on the three sides of the court and the communal rooms on the north side are impressively austere.
The history of the monastery goes back to Byzantine times, when a monk, possibly named Arkadios, founded the monastery which in turn was named after him. Already in the 16th century the monastery played an important role in the cultural life of Crete. There were many copyist monks, a rich library and a school. The Turkish invasion reduced its cultural activities for a while, but the Arkadi Monastery was able to recover promptly and received a unique privilege among Greek monasteries: the Turks allowed the ringing of its bells.
The monastery proved to be not only a remarkable cultural centre, but also played an all-important role in the fight against the Turks: when the Turkish Army (15,000 men) surrounded the monastery in November 1866, 300 fighting men and 600 hundred women and children had taken refuge in it. When the walls came tumbling down and the Turks began the massacre, one of the rebels, Kostis Giamboudakis, blew up the powder magazine and the sky-high explosion reduced the monastery to a pile of rubble. This heroic feat is considered one of the greatest in Cretan history and has turned the Arkadi Monastery into one of Europe's Monuments to Freedom. There's a museum in the monastery with many impressive relics of the 1866 Holocaust and some beautiful icons. Many efforts have been made for the restoration of the monastery in the last years. Two monks live there.

Ancient Eleftherna

Ancient Eleftherna

 

Ancient-Eleftherna-Rethymno

Some km after Arkadi monastery, it is the most important archaeological site in Rethymno and one of the most interesting current excavations being conducted by the Archaeological section of The university of Crete. Inhabited from the ancient years till the Byzantine era, it is the only site in Crete that can give valuable information to archaeologists in how a settlement developed during the years. There can be seen the ruins of dwelling complexes, sanctuaries, cemeteries, the ancient wall, the aqueduct, the huge cisterns and the bridges and an early Christian basilica. Eleftherna is not yet an organised archaeological site.
More...
Ancient Eleutherna, the birthplace of the poet Linos, of the philosopher Diogenes, of the tragic poet Ametor, and of the sculptor Timochares, is located on the northwest foot of Mount Ida, approximately thirty kilometres south of Rethymnon, at 380 metres above sea level.
The city was allegedly named after Eleuthereas, one of the Kouretes, or after Demeter Eleuthous. The city's excavated remains belong to various periods. A thriving Hellenistic settlement has been identified on the Nisi hill, which was one of the city's nuclei, together with the Pyrgi hill.
Eleutherna fought against Rhodes and its ally Knossos in the third century BC, but sided with Knossos against other Cretan cities in 220 BC. It was besieged and conquered, however, and forced out of its alliance. Thanks to its naturally fortified location, the city successfully resisted Quintus Caecilius Metellus's attack in 68 BC, until betrayal led to its conquest.
Ancient Eleutherna, is protected as an archaeological site but also as a natural woodland by law. The excavation teams that have worked at the site have planted rows of trees to delineate pathways, while the site of the museum that will one day house all the finds is just a short walk away, on the other side of the hill.
One of the most impressive observations about the site is the care taken by the archaeologists to preserve the natural environment, allowing visitors to take a mental leap back in time and imagine the location as it was when it was first settled – nestled in the protective embrace of the woodland.

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30th Dimakopoulou Str.
Rethymno, Crete, Greece
Z.C. 74100
T./F. (+30) 2831026942
Tel. (+30) 6948 806 111 & (+30) 6970 807 988
Email. info@musestravel.com