Central mainland villages
When driving on the motorway, you come to the exit leading to Tavronitis. You make your exit and continue driving towards the village of Tavronitis. Approximately 100m before entering the centre of the village, the road forks off to the left and the signs show the way to Vouves. Drive carefully along the country road for about 2 kms among olive groves and you come to a bridge over which the motorway runs. Go under the bridge and follow the road leading to the Oil Refinery-Standardisation Plant (which can be visited after making an appointment). A few kms more driving upwards will bring you to Vouves and the site of the Monumental Olive tree. There are more ways of accessing the village (one from Spilia village and another one after Polemarhi-Kalithea-Chysavgi . This one is recommended as the shortest)
Vouves is a village built on the hill side among the silver green of olive groves, with many places of exceptional natural beauty. The visitor hiking in the area will come across :
The traditional old little bridge connecting Vouves with the nearby little village “Pontikiana”- the bridge makes it possible to reach the village over an idyllic, stream of exceptional beauty. In between the two villages there is a Standard Wine Plant which you can visit following an appointment.
Three scenic fountains : one right next to the above-mentioned bridge, a second one in the “Loukoumicheliana” settlement ,aged over 2 centuries, and, finally the one called “Messa Vrissi” located a mere 50m outside the village of Vouves. All three are spots of great natural beauty.
What, however, made the village famous worldwide is the Monumental Olive tree which has dominated the area of Pano Vouves for over 3500 years. It is considered to be the most ancient olive tree in the world and the symbol of the centuries-old relationship between the Cretan people and the olive tree. It has been officially declared a monument of nature by the Greek State and it attracts thousands of visitors, both Greeks and foreigners from all over the world.
Special ceremonies have been held here for the cutting of “kotini”(branches for the crowning of winners in the ancient Olympic Games) which escorted the Olympic flame and the Greek delegation in the 2004 Athens , 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
Exactly next to the Monumental tree (with its 12.5m perimeter) there stands the Olive tree Museum exhibiting all the equipment and tools used through the distant and more recent past for the cultivation, the gathering of the oil crop, the production as well as the storage of the most valuable product of the area and the pure virgin olive oil which is considered the best quality in the world.
Don’t miss out on visiting the Monumental Olive tree and the Olive Museum. Then you can enjoy coffee and beverages or-even better- a delicious meal prepared with local products and cooked in-what other than- pure virgin olive oil. Ask to taste the exceptional local wine- olive oil and wine are considered to be the best local products. This is why, in August, the local Cultural Club holds a two-day feasting, the “Wine Feast”.
Anyone choosing to visit Vouves for any of the above- mentioned reasons will have an unforgettable experience.
Nea Roumata village
We gradually leave behind the villages of the valley, we leave Skines behind and follow the road which creeps like a snake among olive groves, chestnut trees and many other species of the local flora and, after approximately 14 more kilometers and having reached an altitude of approximately 400m. , we come across an oasis which is home to an unbelievable variety of local flora: the Nea Roumata, a settlement whose roots date back to ancient times a fact proven by the ruins of the tomb of the early Minoan era which was discovered just before the entrance to the village. It is a truly blessed land where virtually everything can be produced: from olive oil, oranges, apples, chestnuts and cherries to top quality vegetables. Cool waters flow through the settlement forming a little river hidden under the dense foliage of tall plane trees and chestnut trees- truly Heaven on earth! Don’t miss out on visiting it and taking with you this unique experience- You can also get a close look at exceptionally rare species such as the giant oak tree at the very entrance to the village or even a unique giant fern which survived the works for the widening of the road thanks to the sensitivity of the local people towards the environment.
Apart from all the natural beauty of the village, it is also historic: There can still be seen a letter written by the Prime Minister and the Commander of the New Zealand Army who were supported by the locals in their struggle against the Nazis. The letter is the expression of the Allies’ gratitude for the help received from the locals.
At the end of your visit enjoy your coffee or a meal at the village tavern- a delicious, really unforgettable experience!
2 kilometres after leaving the village of Skines and driving towards Nea Roumata, we come across another picturesque mountain village of the Municipality of Platanias: Prasses. Just a little before the entrance to the village, to our left as we drive on, the “Prassiano” Ravine leaves us breathless with the unique view, its sharp slopes and its rich, green greenery. For nature lovers: the Ravine is accessible and can be “explored” as far as 5 kms.
The cafes-taverns of the village and the main settlement are all along the main road of the village. However, this is the new settlement. The remains of the old one can be found along the river which flows to the left and “below” the main road as we drive through the village. A walk through the remains of the old settlement has a lot of surprises for the visitor. Apart from the amazing natural beauty, the rich flora with the plane trees, chestnut trees and olive trees, you can move along to the settlement called “Askidia” and admire the unique pine forest covering the surrounding slopes which produces top quality honey. The Byzantine Church of St Nikolaos, dating back to the 15th century AD, with impressive frescos, can also be found in Askidia. The church was used as a “secret” school during the Turkish Occupation of the island of Crete.
The village of Prasses is a green oasis where the visitor loses track of time and really relaxes enjoying the unsurpassed natural beauty of the mountainous site!
The little settlement of “ Hosti” also belongs to Prasses. There are very few residents living here and they grow sheep and produce dairy products. The place is worth a visit because the scenery around it is one of unprecedented natural beauty. The name of the settlement itself comes from the fact that it is “hidden” in the rich greenery. Apart from its natural beauty, another point worth visiting is the “Royal” Path. It is a cobbled path (only its remains can be seen today) which, centuries ago, served as a connection between Prasses and the neighbouring Municipality of “Kandanos- Selino”. The 3-hour trip was on horseback. These days it offers its visitor an incredible experience as a route of exceptional natural beauty.
After leaving the town of Alikianos behind, following the upward, winding country road for about 18-20 kilometres, which leads to Sougia on the Southern coast of the island of Crete, we come across a typical mountain village of the Municipality of Platanias , the village of Sebronas. It is a beautiful green village consisting of many neighbourhoods scattered around a little plateau at an altitude of approximately 600 metres. This village of unsurpassed beauty has numerous springs which provide the area with rich water supplies resulting in rich vegetation and great natural beauty with centuries-old plane trees, gigantic chestnut trees and the rich flora it is “buried” in as well as the fertility of the soil.
We recommend you attempt to drive uphill by 4-wheel drive to the top called “Apopigadi” (1100m. altitude). From this point you can enjoy the most marvelous view of the whole North western coast of Hania as well as the Keritis Valley .At Apopigadi you can visit the Holy Temple dedicated to St. John (dating back to 1873 AD). If you attempt this visit on June 23, the feast of the Saint, you can have an incredible time on a specially designed space under huge plane and chestnut trees just below the church.
Your visit to Sebronas cannot be considered complete if you don’t visit the local cafe-taverns in order to taste genuine Cretan recipes cooked with top quality products produced locally: unbelievable dairy products, virgin olive oil, olives, wine, apples, chestnuts etc.
Apart from the feast dedicated to St John on June 23 and the Feast at Apopigadi, another occasion on which to visit Sebronas is on the Feast of St George (April 23 or whenever it is set around Easter) or even on August 29 the day dedicated to the beheading of St John the Baptist- the little church dating back to the 15th century AD which is of monumental value.
In any case, whether it is a feast or an event organized by the Cultural Club of the village, you will be amazed by the wonderful treats generously offered to the visitor by the hospitable people of the village!
Approximately 3 kms after the Road Accidents Park and Neratzia, the country road leads, by means of a beautiful route lined with plane, poplar and eucalyptus trees, to the centre of the little town of Voukolies. The central square, recently reconstructed, with its huge plane tree, is lined all around by traditional cafes where the visitor can enjoy coffee, beverages or even a tasty meal.
Voukolies town is the administrative and commercial centre of the area. On Holy Friday each year, a street market is held in the square which attracts thousands of visitors from far and near.
The history of Voukolies is goes back many centuries as can be seen by the many churches and chapels, in and around the town, as well as the many monuments.
Three main roads lead away from the town square:
The main one which traverses the square and continues upwards to the south of our Municipality and leads to the village of Palia Roumata.
Two secondary ones : one goes through orange groves, moves along the river, through olive groves, walnut trees and green hills ending up in the “Kefala” and “Kafouros” settlements.
The other one, forks off just before the entrance to the town square, as we approach from the direction of Tavronitis, and leads to Nio Choryio, a beautiful scenic village with lovely orange groves, beautiful flower gardens and little chapels along the way-a truly unforgettable sight.
As you drive away from Voukolies along the road leading south to Palia Roumata, after approximately 2 kms, there are signs on your right showing the way to Anoskeli, lying 1 km away, the little village with the private oil factory, refinery and winery plant which you can visit after making an appointment.
Exactly opposite the signs showing the way to Anoskeli, on your left, you will see the “Tower of Voukolies” a cylinder-shaped stone monument, built in memorial of the Battle of Voukolies which took place in the area in 1897- the last battle between the Cretan people and the Turks ,in which battle there was participation of the regular Greek army. The spot , apart from its historical significance, offers a panoramic view of the fertile Voukolies plain extending up to the northern coast of Platanias.
Neratzia village-Agios Christoforos
Get off the motorway at the Tavronitis exit and immediately after turn right and continue driving to the south towards Voukolies. After driving for about 2 more kms you come to Neratzia, one of the smallest but greenest villages of our Municipality. On your right you can see the Road Accident Victims Park and the Church of Agios Christoforos. It is a unique-worldwide- park dedicated to the memory of people who lost their lives in road accidents, and which has hosted events in memorial of these people with distinguished people taking part among which the Patriarch , Mr. Vartholomeos, the President of the Greek Republic and the Secretary of the World Church Council. The church of Agios Christoforos, built of stone, is situated within the Park. The park is a real jewel for our Municipality and is proof of how sensitive our local Administration and our citizens are in matters having to do with respect towards human life.
Polemarhi village- Kallithea VILLAGE- Chrysavgi village
Just off the exit of the motorway to Tavronitis, as you keep driving south towards Voukolies, you come to the point where the road forks off towards Polemarhi and Kallithea.
Polemarhi is built at the foot of a hill covered in olive groves. As you start going up the hill you pass by “Kato Vrissi” with the water spring, the old plane tree and, just a few metres away, the chapel of Agios Ioannis dating back to the 13th century AD.
You can enjoy coffee or beverages at the traditional cafes on the village square and then move on to the top of the hill, to the next village “Kallithea” and the spot called “Limnie”.
Many inhabitants of the village took part and were killed in fights during the Turkish Domination and the German Occupation. In honour of these glorious dead a Memorial Monument has been erected in the centre of the village. The visitor can walk from Limnie to the “Air Raid Shelters”, the German Fortifications, or visit other nearby locations where traces of ancient settlements have been found.
The village is situated on the hill top to the north west of Polemarhi. There are 2 settlements: Lower Kalithea with the “Great Well” in the village square constructed before 1900 AD which provided the whole village with water and Upper Kalithea with the idyllic pine forest at Limnie.
The central church of the village, dedicated to Agios Charalambos, celebrated with a grand feast on the 10th February, is located right between Lower and Upper Kalithea. The visitors to the church on this day can enjoy a delicious treat prepared by the locals : boiled meat, rice cooked in the meat broth, cheese, cheese pies (kalitsounia) and aromatic local wine. After this people are invited to visit the locals at their houses where the feasting accompanied by local traditional singing goes on till very late at night.
If you go up to the northeast of Kalithea you come to the hill top called “Limnie” with the pine forest and the panoramic view of the lower area from the Tavronitis River to the Maleme airport, and the crystal blue of the sea to the silver-green of the olive groves. The view of the sunrise or the sunset from this point is truly awesome and it is due to this unprecedented sight that the village got the name “Kalithea” , meaning “beautiful view”. On this very spot there is a chapel dedicated to Agia Paraskevi . A great feast is held there on the 25th of July in honour of the saint. A great celebration also takes place in this location on May Day. The village keeps developing steadily during the recent years while preserving its tradition and customs through the activities of a very active Cultural Club, the choir for “rizitiko” songs. There are 3 wonderful traditional guest houses where you can stay and enjoy their magnificent view.
The next village you come across approximately 3 kms after leaving Kalithea behind is called “Chrysavgi”, a small but scenic village built at an altitude of 300m, with a history dating back to at least 1500 AD. Its name is due to the golden sunrise one can enjoy from this location. A Monument has been erected in the centre of the village to honour the people who lost their lives in various battles defending their country.
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit these villages, they always have something to offer which will make your stay unforgettable.
Palia Roumata village
The village consists of 17 smaller settlements clinging to the slopes of the mountains surrounding it. The central settlement is “Arhondika” in the heart of which you can visit the impressive church of Agios Spiridonas, the Monument dedicated to the Resistance of the Greek people against the Nazis, as well as the Palia Roumata Library which was founded in -and has been in full operation since 1944. The village is rich in greenery and has very many paths which have been mapped and are quite safe- a real heaven for nature-lovers. The main ones:
1. The “Vavouledo” ravine. It starts from the settlement called “Vavouledo” and, through a magnificent 3- kilometre path among plane trees and chestnut trees, it leads right to the village centre-to Arhondika. At the very beginning of the ravine you come across the Byzantine church dedicated to Agios Vassilios and to the Holy Cross.
2. The “Lidiano” ravine. This starts in the settlement called “Hamalevri” –where the “Secret School” was- and after crossing the “Vavouledo” ravine, also leads to the centre of the village.
3. The trail which starts in Kefala (Voukolies), passes by the “Teacher’s spring” and, after going through the settlement called “Vroviana”, ends up in “Kafiana” ( All the odd- sounding, impossible to translate, names come from the family name of the founder of the settlement)
Just off the village square there is a “park” with the monumental three-thousand-year-old olive trees. Approximately 200 metres down the road you come to the “Women’s Co-operative of Palea Roumata” called the “Arhondissa” where the local ladies produce delicious, top quality local foods and delicacies as well as artifacts of the Cretan traditional style.
The village square is decorated with the main Church of Agios Spyridonas, the Monument of the Resistance (the acts of Resistance against the Nazi Occupation in World War II brought on retaliation without mercy with the killing of many inhabitants and the burning and ransacking of the village) as well as picturesque, traditional cafes- tavernas.
Relax and enjoy a meal or coffee at the 3 taverns or the 2 coffee shops of the village. You will be amazed both by the prices and the unparalleled tastes!
A village (consisting of 11 settlements) with a long History – one of the Martyr villages of Greece which sacrificed many of its inhabitants in the struggle for Freedom. Evidence of the history of the village can be found on the Monument for the Dead of the War in the centre of the village: The names on the marble plaques reveal the number of the civilians killed by the Nazis- names of women and even of innocent little children! Evidence of the German occupation is also presented by the German powder-magazines which have been sculpted in the rock of the hills next to the village square.
There is a memorial held for the victims of these massacres on the last Sunday of each August.
The village, at a distance of 26 kms. from Platanias, is a crossroads- it is the point where the road connecting Hania to Paleohora intersects the central road connecting the Town of Platanias with Palea Roumata. It is a very scenic village, rich in greenery and water springs. If you take the road leading from the village square to the settlement called “Kotsifiana” for example, either on foot or on a 4-wheel drive, as you go upwards you will be accompanied by the gurgle of cool water coming from countless springs as well as by the thousand of scents and colours of the local flora! If you are lucky enough, you may even see the two pairs of harrier eagles which have survived in the district!
Another amazing route for nature-lovers is the one beginning in “Messavlia”, a small village about two kms away from Kakopetros , on the way to Paleohora. You can cross the gorge starting at this point, follow a trail among rich greenery (plane trees,chestnut trees, wild pear trees etc.), rest for a while at the little church of Agia Paraskevi, and after about 3 more kms. you come to the
picturesque, historic village of Deliana.
The Kakopetros ravine and the Papadiana ravine are also worth visiting since they are very scenic and especially beautiful!
Just outside the village you can visit the Byzantine church of the Archangel Michael with significant frescoes of the time.
After leaving Voukolies drive uphill along the country road in the direction of Kakopetros. Approximately 7 kms further on you come to Dromonero, a picturesque and heroic little village, built at an altitude of a mere 170m, which is well known from the Battle of Dromonero when the Cretans overwhelmed the Turks in 1896. A monument in honour of the people who lost their lives in this battle has been erected in the village.
Just a little before the exit of the village, to your right as you drive away, an old oil press and its establishments has been turned into a centre of contemporary art, a modern exhibition hall hosting contemporary plastic arts works as well as exhibits of local products and handicrafts of folk art.
Just before you reach the exhibition centre the road forks to the right and leads, preferably by 4-wheel drive, to the next little village , Zymbragos or Zymbragou- a most scenic, oil producing village. From there, follow the same road and you find yourself in Panethimos.
Nio Chorio village -Neriana village
As you approach Voukolies, coming from the direction of Tavronitis, just before entering the village square, the road forks off to the left, crosses the little bridge, and leads into the heart of Nio Horyio, a very picturesque little village “swamped” in greenery, among beautiful orange groves, well preserved flower gardens and many small chapels scattered all over the beautiful countryside. The right side of the village is lined with hills covered in the silver-green of olive groves- they look like sentinels lined up and keeping guard of the village and its people.
Only 1 km after leaving Nio Horyio you come across another amazing little village of the inland : Neriana.
The village rests peacefully on the hillside to the left of the little river which crosses it , along which river there are many tall, bright green-leaved plane trees.
The position of the village, next to the river, makes it very fertile. Products produced here include virgin olive oil, citrus fruit, wine, raki and top quality honey. There is very rich fauna and flora which includes some rare species such as the wild black orchid.
The history of the village goes back to the 16th century, as can be seen by the old church of Agios Ioannis and the graves found there. It is regarded that the village was built during the Turkish Domination , this is why it is built in the same style as Turkish settlements. The remains of a cobbled path of this very style can be seen starting from the village square and leading upwards through the olive groves to the top of the hill.
The visitor of the village can enjoy coffee or beverages in the thick shade of the trailing vine in the yard of the traditional café of the village. There is also a tavern with an outdoor brick oven (the old traditional ovens using wood as fuel) producing food of an unforgettable taste especially with ingredients coming from the vegetable gardens right next to the tavern. You can taste Cretan cuisine delicacies while the children play or ride a pony. This is a visit you will never forget .
This is one of the mountainous villages of the Municipality of _Platanias built, at an altitude of 300 m, in the form of a semi-circle overlooking the Tavronitis Valley. It is a village whose people cultivate their land producing excellent olive oil and top quality chestnuts. They also breed sheep and goats, they cultivate vineyards and keep bees .
The village is large in range but consists of many small settlements. The village can be accessed either from Voukolies(from Kefala) or from the country road leading from Voukolies to Kakopetros and on to Palia Roumata, at the top of the hill just before going downwards to the village of Palia Roumata. The whole village is a real paradise for nature lovers-especially the walk from Kefala(Voukolies)to Fotakadoand Palia Roumata right along the river is truly magnificent. The panoramic view of the Tavronitis valley as seen from Fotakado is equally majestic.
There are many equally attractive locations worth a visit:
The main road leading to the village has 2.5 kms of stone wall which is quite tall and dates back to the 1920’s and the years when Eleftherios Venizelos was the Prime Minister of Greece.
The “footprint of the hero Digenis Akritas” (a soldier of super human dimensions and qualities). Legend has it that , when Digenis wanted to drink water from the river, he put one foot down at this point (where the ground is bare ever since and nothing ever sprouts) and he put down the other foot on the hill opposite where the chapel of Agios Elisseos is .
The chapel of St Elisseos itself was built from the rocks of a Turkish tower after the Cretans defeated the Turks in nearby Dromonero .
The old Primary School with the sun dial clock.
The village fountains
Many monumental churches and chapels dating back to the Turkish Domination of the island .
The religious feasts held all year round are also notable. Such are the ones held on the 26th October in honour of Agios Demetrios and the main church of the village, on the 3rd November –the name day of St. George, and the 17th January –the name day of St. Anthony.
Messavlia village –Entrance to the gorge
Leave the village of Kakopetros behind and follow the country road leading south to Paliohora. As soon as you exit Kakopetros you can see Messavlia on your right, deep down in the ravine. It is a very small mountainous settlement which marks the entrance to the Messavlia-Deliana or Deliana- Messavlia Gorge. This is one way of accessing the Gorge, for those coming from the southern side of the Municipality of Platanias. The second one is from the north west side, from Deliana village, but this route is uphill so maybe it is more tiring. In any case, the Gorge is worth a visit, especially for nature lovers. It is approximately 5 kms long and you traverse it via a path along the little river flowing along the gorge. It is a truly remarkable experience as you hike among the vivid colours and the scent of the many specimens of the local flora lining its walls. Halfway along the gorge you come across the little stone chapel dedicated to Agia Paraskevi which attracts many people on the 26th July every year.