The tiny resort village of Almirida, which is home to 170 people, is located 22 km from Chania. Houses, hotels and taverns are built on the shore of a cozy bay at the entrance to souda Bay. The place is famous for its calm and warm sea, smooth entry into the water and shallow water. Families with small children like to come here. It is calm, quiet and safe. Locals soon become good friends for visitors. They help to get used to and tell you what sights are near the village. Some of them can be reached on foot. With renting a car, tourists will also not have problems.
Early Christian Basilica
The main attraction of Almirida is located on its outskirts. It is an early Christian church built in the second half of the 6th century. The ruins of the basilica were accidentally stumbled upon in 1974. Until 1989, archaeologists Manolis Borbadakis and Michalis Andianakis excavated here. As a result, the floors, foundations of residential buildings of the ancient city were completely cleared, a necropolis was discovered. On the floors of the basilica partially preserved mosaic coating. According to the shape of the foundation, scientists have restored the original appearance of the temple. Drawings contain ornaments, images of animals, fish, flowers, plants. Mosaic floors were not only in the central sanctuary. Elegant coatings are found in the narthex, the main entrance, the courtyard.
The floors of the side entrances are covered with slabs. Under them were found pottery, jewelry and decorative vases, which archaeologists transferred to the historical museums of Crete. In the process of research, he came to the conclusion that the old town was abandoned by the inhabitants in the 12th century. He was often raided by pirates, so the population left their homes and moved to more protected areas. Entrance to the territory of the basilica is prohibited, it is surrounded by a fence. Archaeological work is still carried out here. Despite the fact that the structure is completely destroyed, we can assume how beautiful and majestic the three-nave early Christian temple was at one time.
Address: Almyrida, Apokronas Region, Crete, Greece
Ancient village of Gavalochori
4 kilometers from Almirida is the ancient village of Gavalochori. It is home to about 500 people. They carefully preserve the interesting history of the emergence and development of the settlement, organizing a unique folklore museum. The heyday of the village fell on the period of the reign of the Venetians. The noble Gavalas family settled here, thanks to which many interesting objects appeared in the vicinity. In the district there are 14 Orthodox churches, ancient wells, Venetian arches, a Roman necropolis, ancient workshops for the production of olive oil.
The Folklore Museum is among the must-see objects. It is divided into 7 halls, each of them has its own historical orientation: Vaulted House, Silk, Ceramics, Lace Weaving, Stone and Stone Carving, Church and Wood Carving. In the historical section of the museum are exhibited guns and swords from the time of the long struggle of the Cretans for their freedom; a small part of the collection of paintings and historical lithographs, which depict the most significant events in the history of Greece and Crete, coins (Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish, coins of the Cretan state and Syracuse coins of the period 405-345 BC. e. Separate showcases are occupied by medals won on the battlefields by the inhabitants of Gavalochori.
For those who want to stay overnight or a few days, hotels are open. These are three detached villas with all the amenities in which rooms are rented. You can have a snack in two cafes and two taverns of the village, in a confectionery with a bar counter they serve fragrant coffee with traditional Cretan sweets. The souvenir shop is supplied with goods by local handicraft workshops and a graphic design studio. Fresh farm produce can be bought at local grocery stores.
Address: Gavalochori, Apokoronas municipality, Crete, Greece
Village Kokkino Chorio
On Cape Drapano, a short walk from Plako, there is a picturesque Red Village (translated from the Greek name Kokkino Chorio). The reference point will be the lighthouse installed on the cape. The ground here is an unusual red color. It is famous for its fertility, so the main occupation of the local population is agriculture. All vacant plots are planted with orange trees, artichokes, potatoes and other vegetables. Some residents switched to the tourism industry, when the coast began to actively develop as a resort. The first apartments, guest villas and hotels appeared.
This happened in the mid-60s after the release of the Oscar-winning film “Zorba the Greek”. It starred Ethnoni Quinn, and the film itself won three statuettes at once at the award ceremony. Fans reached out to the village to visit the filming locations and get in touch with the history of the creation of the picture. The owner of one of the taverns still brags about his personal acquaintance with the Hollywood movie star, who several times came to him to skip a drink after filming. On the wall of the institution there is a memorable photo of the owner of the tavern and Anthony Ouinn.
The village is built in a mountainous area. The entire coastline is cut by small gorges, and in the center of the settlement there are two caves at once: Petsi and Katalimata. At the outskirts of the cape at a depth of 10 meters is the cave of Elephants. The entrance to it is possible only under water, so the area especially attracts diving enthusiasts and diggers. The interior of the caves are stalactites and stalagmites of the most bizarre forms. Above the village rises a hill of unusual shape. Against its background, all visiting tourists like to be photographed.
Locals love guests and will gladly provide a guide for excursions around the area. Near the village of Kokkino Chorio you can visit the bank of a mountain river, a museum of folk art, a botanical garden, an auto and motorcycle track. Ancient Byzantine churches and chapels are scattered throughout the territory. Few people know, but on the hill of Drapano is an abandoned German bunker from the Second World War. Going on an independent tour of the caves and bunker you need to take a flashlight with you.
In each locality there is a tavern with traditional Cretan dishes from the products produced here. Kokkino Chorio has a population of only 270 people. Their life is a visual aid about the arrangement of the house in Cretan. The distance from Almyrida is 3 and a half kilometers.
Address: Kokkino Chorio, Crete, Greece
Almyrida and the charming village of Vrieses are separated by 13 km of road. Travelers claim that the best yogurts in Crete are made here. And the place is famous for its beautiful nature and numerous landscapes that can decorate the photo album of a tourist. Three mountain rivers merge on the territory at once – Butakas, Farmakera and Vrisanos. In winter, they become more full-flowing, feeding from underground sources. Unlike many villages on the island, Vrieses never lacked water.
By Cretan standards, this is a fairly large settlement. About 700 people live here, a good infrastructure has been created. Work, shops, taverns, hotels. In grocery stores you can buy olive oil, cheeses, yogurts, honey of local production. For them here, by the way, and come. It is worth considering that the prices here are much higher than in other villages in the region. Goat cheese and mountain honey are often sold in gift boxes, and special clay pots are made for yogurt.
There is a hiking trail in the surrounding area. It passes through an ancient arched bridge left over from ancient times. Its construction dates back to 300 BC. It is called “Elliniki Kamara” and is the largest arched bridge in Crete that has survived to this day. From the central square of the village, the road leads to the Katsuna Gorge. It passes by the ruins of the ancient polis of Pergamum. Next to the gorge are two impressive caves. According to local guides, one of them is connected to the nearby village of Patelari by an underground tunnel. From Vrisus begins the road to Chora Sfakion. This fishing village can be visited on the way back, buy fresh fish there and dine on seafood dishes.
Address: Vrieses, Chania, Crete, Greece
Ancient city of Aptera
13 and a half kilometers from Almirida is another ancient landmark of Crete – the ancient city of Aptera, built on a high mountain. Today, only ruins remain of the once great polis. But at one time it was considered a strategically important region between two port harbors – Almirida and Kalyves. It was built in the 8-7 centuries BC. The name Aptera translates from Greek as “wingless”. In this regard, there is a myth about how the Sirens staged a competition with the Muses at this place, and when they lost it, they lost their wings.
The perimeter of the city was surrounded by a stone wall. Its length was 4 km. Inside were found the remains of religious sanctuaries and temples, residential buildings of the Byzantine period, which are well preserved. Nearby is the monastery of St. John the Theologian. On its courtyard were found the floors of an early Christian basilica and an ancient sanctuary consisting of two parts. Next to it is a building with three arches, dating back to the Roman period. It is decorated with coats of arms. Scientists suggest that the building was based on the rectorate, where the governor lived, subordinate to the prefect.
During the excavations, Roman stone cisterns were found. Archaeologists do not yet know their exact purpose, but there is an opinion that they either contained baths (baths) or they were used as storage facilities for grain. Of interest are the ruins of an ancient Hellenic amphitheater. Its tiers are almost destroyed and overgrown with grass, but even in our time it is possible to assess the correctness of the structure to obtain the maximum acoustic effect. On the territory are also found the temple of Demeter, aqueducts, statues, household utensils, vessels and coins. The city was greatly affected by the earthquake, but finally ceased to exist in 823 AD. after the attack of the Arabs, who completely plundered the settlement.
The closer to the sea, the more modern the objects become. In the north-east of the city rises a Turkish fort, and closer to the shore built the Turkish fortress of Itzedin (1866). It has a very advantageous location, so at the end of the 19th century it was repeatedly used for military exercises. Now these objects have turned into historical sights.
Address: Antique Aptera, Chania, Crete, Greece
City of Chania
The center of Chania Prefecture is not so far from Almirida, so do not ignore the city with an ancient history and be sure to visit it. In ancient times, on its territory was the ancient Greek polis of Cydonia. Its location was established by the British explorer Robert Pashley in the 19th century. excavations began in the 20th century and continue to this day. Chania is divided into two parts – the Old and New Town. In the historic district you can see the remains of the Venetian harbor, the central square of Kasteli, the Muslim mosque, the oldest Cretan lighthouse, the collection of the Venetian arsenal. In the New Town there are several museums, in particular, the Archaeological, Folklore, Maritime, Art Gallery, a branch of the Athens Military Museum. In the vicinity of Chania is the monastery of the Holy Trinity, another Orthodox monastery is located on the peninsula of Akrotiri. The city is a major tourist center with a developed infrastructure. On the coast, guests will always be happy to receive luxury hotels, and in luxurious restaurants travelers will find a menu of delicious and traditional dishes of Greek and international cuisine.