Places near Agia Aikaterini
A small village built at an altitude of 540 m in the south parts of the mountain Dikti at the borders of the province of Ierapetra-Viannos. The imposing mountains above the village, the south horizon among the olive-covered hills and in the lower villages, the cool climate create in you a sensation of bodily and spiritual well-being at this balcony of the Cretan nature.
Five settlements, two of them uninhabited today, constituted the Community of Riza, now a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra.
Sfakoura is in the east, with the church of the Holy Cross, the cemetery, the memorial of those fallen during the German Occupation, and the ruins of Riza’s “Koules”. Here the Greek flag was raised by the guerillas of Captain Bantouvas.
Here the atrocity of the conquerors was manifested, as testified by the sculls of the neomartyrs with the coups de grace, as in Kalavryta.
Another settlement is Zourva or Riza, as it was renamed, and in the west, the settlement of “Kaimenos”.
Abandoned settlements are Tsikaloudiana, in the entrance of the village, taking its name by the Tsikaloudakis family who lived there, and the Panakiana, a little below the village, taking their name from the Panakakis or Panakomihelakis family.
Riza is an old medieval village, a natural stronghold, with history, civilization, legends and traditions. The settlement “Kaimenos” (burnt) took its name from its first settler, whose inn was repeatedly burned down by the pirates. The legend of Sarantapihos, who lived next to Riza, in the west, in the gorge of Lapathos and its treasure as well as its tomb next to the road, among other traditions, are intense in the memory of the residents of Riza.
The old churches of Riza are also important having an exceptional interest, as well as these of Pano Symi, which belongs to Riza’s parish.
A heroic, martyric village, it was burned many times since the times of the Venetian rule. A hideout of guerillas, as it was adjacent to the steep Lasithi mountains. In 1881 174 residents were registered in the census. In 1920 it had 217 residents and in 2001 40 residents.
The Riza village is today inhabited by pensioners, a few stock and bee keepers and emigrants of the Riza community in Athens. It is a small but very lively village, with a wide square, a tavern-coffee house, all of them done by the Riza association. Here residents of Riza, coming from the whole area, are gathered every day to drink coffee, raki and declare their love to their village. Riza is the village of the Artist of the Traditional Cretan music Manolis Alexakis, as they all exclaim.
Going to see the sights of Riza, in the routes of immense natural beauty to the plateau of Lapathos, the view to the Libyan Sea and to the surrounding areas, as seen from the observatories installed by the association of Riza, is astounding. Pin trees, hollies, cypresses, the small plateau with the old little church of the Saint Apostles, the cliffs, the gulfs, the gorge offer a unique touring experience.