In the abandoned village of Vitsilia you can still see the ruins of the medieval castle which was built here since the beginning of the Venetian period. The castle had two entrances to the west and it was protected by a wall, which is maintained today at a low altitude on the north side. Two towers existed inside the village. One of them was supposed to be at the center of the village, while the other one, which was the biggest or else the south tower, was built at a short distance from the protective enclosure and it used to be the residence of the feudal lords of Vitsilia.
The ruins of the houses that are preserved in the castle are the evidence that the settlement was once extremely populated. Besides, according to archaeological findings, three large “patitiria” (wine presses) existed in the village. This certainly confirms some historical sources which show that the economy of Vitsilia has been based mainly on viticulture.
Places near Vitsilia Castle
Partira includes villages Miliarisi, Vitsilia, Mikri Episkopi, Halasos, Nispita, Badia and Tourloti.Ottoman census of 1671 show that Halasos supported eighty (80) taxed residents, while Kato Partira (current village) had around ten (10) residents. The name Halasos is pre-historic as the experts support, the rich rural region of the village would have probably always attracted the attention of conquerors.
Thus, by Neolithic period life is detected in the region, while in Pre-Palatial times the hill "Peristeras" was very probably a pick sanctuary.Miliarisi is found north-east of former municipal community of Partira. In the ages of Venetian and Ottoman occupation there existed two villages: Pano Miliarisi and Kato Miliarisi. Ruins of the first village are found a little further from the dirt-road that comes into Miliarisi from Zinta village. It was abandoned sometime in previous century as, after census of 1881, it is no more included in lists.South of Miliarisi above the top of the hill, is Vitsilia, an archontohori, (rich village, lived by Archons) as remnants of buildings that still stand testify. Some support the theory that in the place of current village was standing ancient city Lykasos (= town of light), while the current name of the village is related to its panoramic view (Vitsilia from Latin vigilare).On eastern slope of two earth hills (Pefkakia and Peristeras) is found stretched out the kefalochori (head-village) of the homonymous municipal district of Partira.Partira is a village with mixed residents; refugees and locals. Most of locals have their origins in Lasithi, and earlier on from Peloponese. (Monemvasia and Nafplium).Peristeras Hill was probably an important peak sanctuary during Minoan times, according to studies of archaeologist Nikolaos Platon. Minoans worshiped on sacred hills and traces of their presence are still distinguished at the top of Peristeras.The centre of the village was built by leveling of ruins that existed around village church. Today an old fountain is found amid a beautiful space with trees and comfortable benches, while around the church traditional cafes offer refreshments including of course traditional Greek coffee.On the north side of Partira, behind the first hills of the road that leads to Mikri Episkopi village, one can see ruins of abandoned settlement Pano Partira.In the wider region of the village there are also many interesting chapels built during Venetian and Ottoman times such as Agios Georgios with its beautiful decorative patterns, Agia Paraskevi, inside the village, with some very fine bas-reliefs, as well as modern church of Panagia Kera in the depth close to Kato Vrisi, an area with plenty of water, stone basins, where women used to wash their clothes, drinking basins, where villagers used to water their animals and karavades, irrigation channels that brought water into beautiful vegetable gardens of villagers.Continuing south, we enter village Badias. A beautiful village today, with hospitable, hard working people and fertile fields. Unfortunately this village also follows the course of abandonment, as so many other villages in the hinterland of Crete. Tourloti: The ancient name of this village is Trouloti, and thus is rendered in Venetian documentation and censuses. In Ottoman register of 1671 it is not quoted, but it appears again in 1834 (census of Pashley) with its current name. In census of1881 is also recorded as Tourloti belonging to then municipality of Partira. The name of village emanated from its panoramic position, at the top of the last hill range that begins from Tefeli, kefalochori of Asterousia municipality. In the wider region of the village many archaeological artifacts have been found from cultivators, while the impetuous flow of water and rainfalls have unearthed ancient graves which get covered again under mud or are taken away by the powerful flow of the river.
Church of Christ the Savior in Mikri Episkopi
The village of Mikri Episkopi is very near and north of Partira. It was built next to the Byzantine church of Christ the Savior, where the seat of the Diocese of Arcadia used to be.
An old family factory that included an oil press, a flour mill and a distillery for the traditional Cretan drink of raki has been transformed to the Museum of Rural Crafts. The site was restored and renovated by the former municipality of Arkalohori, financed by the program Leader+ and it intends to become a popular museum for visitors. The museum offers visitors the opportunity to see a field of rural economy, making an incision in time, reaching the early phase of the rural crafts in the Cretan countryside.