East mainland tour
Only 12 kilometres away from the Town of Hania, in the middle of the fertile valley of the river Keritis(or Iardanos ,as mentioned by Homer) lies one of the most beautiful “orange-growing” villages-it is the village of Alikianos. It lies at the foot of the Lefka Ori ( White Mountains) and dates back to 1570 AD at least, since it is recorded in “The Cretan Weddings” by Zambelios as the headquarters and home of the Venetian Lord Damolin. In his tower , the ruins of which can still be seen in Alikianos today, (under the pretext of a marriage between Sophia, the daughter of Damolin and the son of the Cretan Revolutionary Chief Kandanoleon) there was a massacre of the Cretan patriots by the Venetians.
The town of Alikianos , a site of exceptional natural beauty, lies peacefully in the green scenery among olive groves and orange groves , alongside the cool waters of the Keritis river and the huge plane trees lining its banks . One of the main landmarks of the town is the Stone Bridge over the Keritis river, aged over 100 years, a truly remarkable architectural monument!
Just a few metres away we come across the Keritis Monument, the building dedicated to the residents of Alikianos and the surrounding villages who were executed by the Nazis , an eternal symbol of the Resistance of the civilians of the region against the Barbarians! This is the spot where the Anniversary of the Battle of Crete is celebrated every year on May 21.
In the centre of the town one can see the Town Hall of the former Municipality of Moussouri, one of the four Municipalities which merged and made up the present Municipality of Platanias.
A visit is recommended to the Byzantine churches of the town : the Byzantine little stone church of Agios Georgios , the one of Agia Ekaterini and the more contemporary one next to the Town Hall , the main Church of the town dedicated to the Holy Cross celebrated grandly on the 14th September each year.
Walk through the town of Alikianos, let your eyes take in the deep green of the orange trees , breathe in the rich aromas of the orange blossoms and the local flora. Enjoy delicious dishes of the Cretan cuisine or maybe just coffee or your beverage at the local cafes and tavernas.
Create valuable memories for a whole lifetime in one of the most picturesque locations of the Municipality of Platanias!
This is one more “orange growing” village, “hidden “in the green of orange groves which the visitor comes across when leaving Alikianos behind and heading Southwest to the inland. It is a village rich in spots of spectacular natural beauty, many Traditional spots and places worth visiting.
As you enter the village, you come to the village square, next to the little river crossing the village, with the tall plane trees and the scenic cafes where you can enjoy your coffee or a drink or even a typical Cretan cuisine meal cooked with pure local ingredients.
On the village square you can see and visit the main church of the village dating back to the 14th century AD. It consists of two aisles: one dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul and on the 28th June every year a big feast is organized here in their honour with plenty of food, wine, Cretan music and dancing, and a second one dedicated to Agios Fanourios . Right next to the Church you can see the old Primary School of the village as well as “the Clock”,a clock tower donated by a resident of the village in honour of all the residents who were killed by the Nazis .
A little wooden bridge leads away from the square over the little river to the Museum of the “Oil Factory & the Oil Tree” where the visitor can get to know what old olive presses were like and all the equipment used years ago for the production of olive oil, as well as in many farming and agricultural activities.
If we leave the village square and all it has to offer behind, cross the village and come to its southern part, apart from the picturesque little roads and houses we meet along the way, we come across the renovated facilities- as well as the more modern facilities added some years ago- of a Wine Factory. Here you can take part in wine tasting sessions but you can also enjoy a delicious meal or even coffee in truly unbelievable surroundings which very successfully combine the past with the present!
Another impressive route, especially for nature lovers, is the one leading from “Skonizo”- a small settlement only 2 kms away from Vatolakkos- to “Manoliopoulos” village or to “Deres” village. These roads aresuitable only for 4wheel drives or similar off-road vehicles. Occasionally there are “moto cross” races held on these roads.
Last but not least, the “Varssamiotis” Dam is worth a visit. It is a modern technology wonder situated in an idyllic landscape swamped in green!
Koufos village-Babiolos village-Psathogiannos village
As we drive away from Alikianos and move deeper into the heart of the inland of Platanias we come across three little villages literally “swamped” in the green and the incredible peace and beauty of the Cretan countryside. A few kilometres away from Alikianos, in the middle of an amazing scenery consisting of orange groves, to the right of our route we come across the most impressive Byzantine Church of “the Source of Life” -or as it is better known to the locals –“Ay Kyr Giannis o Xenos” (St John the Stranger), which dates back to the 12th century AD. After moving on for another kilometre among the orange groves we reach the first little village –Koufos-a picturesque little village which seems peacefully “asleep” in the beauty and quiet of the Cretan Nature. We can make a short stop here for coffee or even a meal in the little café-tavern of the village and then move on along the upward country road lined with orange groves and olive groves and our senses are stunned by the thousands of colours and aromas they encounter. After 2-3 kms. Through a small ravine we come across the second little and equally peaceful little village: Bapiolos, whose few permanent residents are occupied mainly with farming and produce top quality products – olive oil, wine, fruit , vegetables etc.
By following the winding country road we reach the top of the hill on which Bapiolos is built and enjoy a panoramic view of the olive groves and the plain which stretches up to the Northern coast of the Municipality of Platanias. Then we move downwards for another 2 kilometres and come to Psathogiannos, a typical village of the mountainous inland which has several points worth visiting such as :
The century-old lane tree at the entrance to the village. Right next to it there is a water spring and a fountain whose dome-like top was built during the Turkish Occupation of the island of Crete.
In the Upper District of the village there is a stream in the middle of which a beech tree has taken root. It is said to be over 400 years old !
Right next to the old town hall there is an olive tree aged over 2400 years !
The whole area is covered with vast olive groves whose age is said to be at least 150 years! It has been estimated that the village of Psathogiannos produces over 900 tons of olive oil annually and it is second all over Greece regarding the quality and quantity of the olive oil produced.
The main Church of the village is dedicated to Agios Georgios and its clock tower is considered historic.
In the very centre of the village there is the so-called “Tower of Psathogiannos”. The building was originally used as a prison during the Turkish Occupation and later was turned into an olive press.
There is a big Feast organized in April every year on the name day of Agios Georgios (St. George)