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Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge 3154 hits

Samaria or the Samaria Gorge is one of the main sights of Crete. Every tourist who visits Crete will have heard of this beautiful gorge or soon will. 

Samaria Gorge is found in the White Mountains of south-west Crete in the district of Chania. They are called the White Mountains because the sun shining on the limestone rock of their peaks make them appear that colour.

The capital of the district of Chania is the town of that name. It`s a very popular tourist destination on the north coast of the island. If you look at a map of Crete you will find the Samaria gorge directly south of the town but on the opposite coast.The White Mountains contain over forty gorges of various sizes. The best known are Imbros Gorge, The Gorge of Agia Irini and the Samaria Gorge which is definitely the most famous of them all. Even though these gorges are all to be found on the same part of the island of Crete, they all have different characteristics.Samaria Gorge is named after a village of that name which is found about halfway down the gorge. The village in turn gets its name from a small 14th century church sited close by. This is the church of the Holy Mary, in the Greek language, "Osia Maria." So it is easy to see where the name Samaria comes from!The village has been deserted since 1962. The last inhabitants had to leave when the whole area was designated as a National Park. Although many of the old houses still remain, they only act as accommodation for the Park wardens. The old church of Osia Maria is still there, a little way out of the village.All the gorges in the Crete Mountains in Chania were formed by the same geological process. Water ate away the soft limestone rocks over thousands of years after the land had been uplifted by seismic activity. This water erosion has also led to huge numbers of caves being formed. There are as many as 3,000 over the island. A lot of these caves are archaeologically and religiously significant. Over a 100 of the caves have churches in them.The Samaria Gorge starts near the small town of Xyloskalo on a level area in the White Mountains called the Omalos Plateau. The name Xyloskalo can be translated as "wooden stairway." This is because the locals had built just that thing to help them enter down the steep opening into the gorge.The Omalos Plateau is over 1,200 feet above sea level and the gorge runs in a southerly direction from there down to the south coast of Crete near the village of Agia Roumeli.Of all the things to do in Crete visiting the Gorge of Samaria is a must for many tourists, especially those on Crete walking holidays. Mnay Crete excursions are based around this great hike.Coaches will collect you early in the morning and take you to your starting point at Xyloskalo in the Crete mountains. Once you have completed the hike and reached Agia Roumeli on the coast, you catch a ferry boat to the nearby port of Hora Sfakion where your coach will collect you once more.The locals call the gorge "Farangas" which means "great gorge." They also like to claim that it is the longest gorge in Europe, but that is debatable.What is certain is that in some places it can definitely be counted amongst the narrowest!The most dramitic part is a a place known as "Sideroportes" or the "Iron Gates." Here the Samaria gorge is so narrow, being about four metres wide, that you feel as though you can reach out and touch both walls at the same time.If you look up at the cliffs, which rise almost vertically above you for 350 metres, you feel totally overawed!The journey down the gorge, from Xyloskalo to Agia Roumeli on the coast, is about 18 kilometres and although the hike is not an easy one, it is extremly beautiful. The path follows a clear stream which goes through heavily scented pine forests of tall Cypress trees. There are many olive trees and some small fields with low stone walls.The Samaria Gorge is only open to visitors between the beginning of May and the middle of October. There a charge for entering the gorge, at the moment it is 5 Euros. This goes towards the maintenance of the National Park. You must keep your ticket and hand it to the warden as you leave the park, this ensures that no-one is left in the gorge overnight.During the winter months you are unable to go down the gorge.This ban can even occur in the summer season if there has been rain. This is because the pretty stream you cross many times on your hike down the gorge can turn into a raging torrent. Rain or melting snow in the Crete mountains can raise the height of the water considerably.In fact the Village of Agia Roumeli, at the bottom of the gorge, was badly flooded in the 1950`s. There are still some ruined houses which are only now being rebuilt.High winds can also cause problems. Although you may not be aware of them when you are down in the gorge they have been known to cause stones to fall from the 350 metre high cliffs. In fact there are signs warning of this danger.Any walk down the gorge usually becomes a competition to spot the rare Kri-Kri.This is a Cretan Wild Ibex with distinctive curved horns. It was introduced into Samaria gorge as a refuge for it. In fact this is only one of two places it is to be found.If you are very lucky you may spot some rare birds such as the Griffon Vulture, Bonelli`s Eagle and the Golden Eagle.One thing about Samaria Gorge you should be aware of is its popularity. During the tourist season there will be lots of people hiking through it every day.The beauty and dramatic quality of Samaria Gorge make it one of the most popular gorges to visit in the world.

 

Paleochora
Paleochora 2698 hits

Paleochora is a big village in south-west Crete. Located on a small peninsula it has been a popular place for many many years because of its good beaches and pleasant surroundings. Getting there: Paleochora is 75 km from Chania on a good road. There are several buses per day. The village also has a ferryboat connection to other villages in south-west Crete. Atmosphere: It is a "real" village with a constant population of about 2000. Paleochora is lively and sometimes a little crowded in the high season but it is very easy to get away from the bustle. In summer months, the main road crossing the village as well as the road along the eastern sea front get closed to the traffic in the evening. This is wonderful if you have children as they can run around without danger. Accommodation: Huge choice of rooms, studios and self-catering apartments. Most of the time it is very easy to find something on the spot in Paleochora. Restaurants: Many restaurants of all kinds. Shopping: Good shopping for basic needs . Nightlife: Several bars and a discotheque. So there is a nightlife but it is not a loud place at night. Beach: Beautiful long sandy beach, a little exposed to the west wind which often blows here. There are several other more protected (but pebble) beaches nearby. There are more beaches further west at Konduras and Krios.

 

 


Your sightseeing around the wider area of Paleochora and one day trips to the colourful villages that are spread all over Selino province, will offer you a unique chance to visit and admire the Christian temples of our region. 

The icon-paints and murals that adorn the old churches of Selino, remain in good condition, with images that, apart from the admiration for the technique, they submit the visitor-pilgrim to an introspection experience and spiritual awakening…

The riches of the area in muraled temples, cannot be found in any other region of Crete! Plenty Byzantine churches, most of them constructed in 14th and 15th century, in every village you visit in Selino. The spread of the population in small isolated settlements and the normal outcome of constructing temples on each of these areas, have bequeathed our land a long and importand “list” with Byzantine and Early Christian churches!
The muraled temples of the region are above 100 and we mention sign of places where a large number of churches are gathered and you are able to visit. Starting from 
Paleochora
and with direction to the west villages of Selino, you will meet many churches in Voutas area, in Sklavopoula, Sarakina and the wider area of Koundoura. On the east part of our province, your sightseeing at villages like 
Anidri, Azogires, Prodromi, Rodovani, Koustogerakocan be combined with visits to byzantine churches of the area. Going north to Vlithias, Kadros, Plemenianaand the wider area of Kandanos, you will have the chance to admire more indications of Christian worship and Byzantine icon-painting. 

 

Milatos Beach
Milatos Beach 2678 hits

Milatos Beach is a by-the-sea development with many very good fish tavernas, a fishing port and a nice small beach in it. There are other beach areas, but they are very rocky. The beach inside the village is not so special though and if you want to find better beaches you have to make a short walk towards the village of Sisi. In between Sisi and Milatos there is a choice of three different beaches (Avlaki Sissi beach, Boufos and Harbor Sissi Beach). Milatos is located a few km east of Sissi and Malia, approximately 30 km west of Agios Nikolaos and 45 km east of Heraklion.

Milatos Beach is a by-the-sea development with many very good fish tavernas, a fishing port and a nice small beach in it. There are other beach areas, but they are very rocky. The beach inside the village is not so special though and if you want to find better beaches you have to make a short walk towards the village of Sissi. In between Sisi and Milatos there is a choice of three different beaches.

Apart from swimming and relaxing at the beach, the area is very good for sightseeing. Archaeological survey has shown that the actual scenic village with the cute small, whitewashed houses has been built on the place of the ancient homonymous Minoan city. According to tradition, Minoan people from this area had settled in Asia Minor in the mid-2 nd millennium b.C., and established the famous city of Milatos, which flourished for a long time in the Archaic and Classical periods. Several burials of the Late Minoan period have been found here.

Lake of Aghios Nickolaos
Lake of Aghios Nickolaos 2530 hits

Lake Voulismeni  is a former sweetwater lake, later connected to the sea, located at the centre of the town of Agios Nikolaos. It has a circular shape of a diameter of 137 m and depth 64 m. The locals refer to it as just "the lake". The lake connects to the harbour of the town by a channel dug in 1870. A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from a small park situated above it. According to legend, the goddess Athena and Artemis bathed in it. Every year at midnight turning to Orthodox Christian Easter day, the majority of the population of the town gathers around the lake to celebrate with fireworks, and firecrackers thrown by the people attending that highlight event.It was reported that the German army during their withdrawal from the area at WW2, disposed parts of their weaponry and/or vehicles into the deep lake.A local urban legend has it that the lake is bottomless. Based primarily on locals noticing disturbances at the surface of the water during the Santorini earthquake of 1956, many assume a possible geological relation of the two locations.

Lassithi Plateu
Lassithi Plateu 1725 hits
The Lasithi Plateau (Greek: Οροπέδιο Λασιθίου, Oropedio Lasithiou) is high endorheic plateau, and a municipality, located in the Lasithi regional unit in eastern Crete, Greece. The seat of the municipality is the village Tzermiado.[2]
Contents   
 
Geography
The Lasithi Plateau stretches (11 km (6.8 mi) in the E-W direction and 6 km (3.7 mi) in the N-S direction. It is approximately 70 km (43 mi) east from Heraklion and lies at an average altitude of 840 m (2,760 ft). Winters can be harsh and snow on the plain and surrounding mountains can persist until mid-spring. The plateau is famous for its white-sailed windmills, (more accurately, wind-pumps), a local invention that have been used for two centuries to irrigate the land. Despite their vast number (some 10,000) in the past, most of them have been abandoned nowadays in favour of modern diesel and electrical pumps. Because the water table is close to the surface of the ground, all burials in cemeteries are above ground, in a stone mausoleum, or a stone box with decorations. This is because the plateau is endorheic, and there is impermeable rock just below the surface of the ground.
History
 
Monument commemorating the battle and desctruction of Lassithi by Ottoman and Egyptian forces in May 1867.
The fertile soil of the plateau, due to alluvial run-off from melting snow, has attracted inhabitants since Neolithic times (6000 BC). Minoans and Dorians followed and the plateau has been continuously inhabited since then, except a period that started in 1293 and lasted for over two centuries during the Venetian occupation of Crete. During that time and due to frequent rebellions and strong resistance, villages were demolished, cultivation prohibited, and natives were forced to leave and forbidden to return under a penalty of death. A Venetian manuscript of the thirteenth century describes the troublesome plateau of Lasithi as spina nel cuore (di Venezia) - a thorn in the heart of Venice. Later, in the early 15th century, Venetian rulers allowed refugees from the Greek mainland (eastern Peloponnese) to settle in the plain and cultivate the land again. To ensure good crops, Venetians designed a large system of drainage ditches (linies) that were constructed between 1514 - 1560 and are still in use. The ditches transfer the water to Honos (Greek: Χώνος), a sinkhole in the west edge of the plateau, that feeds the river Aposelemis.
During the Greek War of Independence in January 1823, Hassan Pasha led an army of Ottoman and Egyptian forces sent by Muhammad Ali that seized the plateau killing most residents who had not fled to the mountains. In May 1867 during the great Cretan revolt, Ottoman and Egyptian forces under the command of Pashas Omar and Ismail Selim marched towards the Lasithi plateau. Their aim was to strike a decisive blow on the revolutionaries who used it as their hideout. After fierce fighting, the outnumbered rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to the slopes of Dikti. Between 21 and 29 of May, many village dwellers were slaughtered or taken slaves, their homes were set ablaze after being looted and livestock and crops were destroyed.[4] The monastery of Kroustalenia that was the seat of the revolutionary committee was also demolished.
During the Axis occupation of Greece in 1941–1944, the peaks surrounding the plateau were used as hideouts by local resistance fighters.
Archaeological sites
There are several caves of archaeological interest in the surrounding countryside, of which Diktaion Andron (Greek: Δικταίον Άντρον, also Diktaean / Diktaian Cave) near the village of Psychro (Greek: Ψυχρό) is the birthplace of Zeus according to Greek Mythology. Zeus is also said to have used Diktaion Andron as his hiding place after abducting Europa. The archeological site of Karfi, believed to be the last outpost of the Minoan civilization is located on the mountains immediately north of the plateau.
Alexandroupoli
Alexandroupoli 1707 hits

Alexandroupoli is a city of Greece and the capital of the Evros Prefecture in Thrace.  Alexandroupolis (Alexandrople) is the most easterly town on the coast of Thrace, near the frontier with Turkey on the river Evros. It was founded by the Turks under the name of Dedeagac ("grandfather's tree"), and became Greek in 1912. Now a center of the local tobacco trade, the town has no features of particular interest. Air connection with Athens. Railroad station on Salonica-Constantinoupolis railroad line. Among the sights worth seeing in Alexandroupolis are the Church of St Eleftherios and the Municipal Archeological Collection.

Panagia Paraportiani
Panagia Paraportiani 1622 hits

In the Kastro, which is the original nucleus of the present-day town of Mykonos (on its northwestern edge), stands the Paraportiani, a group of building impressive for its shapes' plasticity.

 Historic religious sites on Mykonos can also be found along the coastline, and Panagia Paraportiani is one of them. Located at the entrance to the Kastro neighborhood of Chora, the whitewashed walls of this seaside church form a unique shape due to the building’s unusual construction. Five small churches that were built on top of each other beginning in the 14th Century became the Panagia Paraportiani that can be seen today. The asymmetrical shape and rare combination of architectural styles combined with the ocean view have helped to make Panagia Paraportiani one of the most photographed sites in the world.

 In this location, during the Middle Ages, there was a tall, fortified tower, side by side and above one of the entrances to the Kastro. Now there is a complex made up of five churches altogether, four on the ground level and on the floor above, the church of the Virgin, which is the oldest of all. The Paraportiani, and the windmills are the island’s trademark.

Erimoupoli
Erimoupoli 1579 hits

Itanos beaches are located 2 km north from Palm beach Vai, 8 from Palekastro and 26 from Sitia. The sandy beach of the ancient town of Itanos or Erimoupolis, Lassithi prefecture. 

If you’re looking to kick back and relax and do nothing more serious than soak up the sun or occasionally dip your toe into crystal clear waters, then the beaches at Erimoupolis or Itanos in Lassithi Prefecture could be the place for you. Reached by walking a short distance from the small car park at the ancient site of Itanos it’s some distance to any facilities so it is essential to bring plentiful supplies of water. The beaches are quiet on weekdays but are popular at weekends so can become busy. The clear water and sandy beach are perfect for a lazy day with some palm trees offering much needed shade in the heat of the day.

Area description:

There is another longer sandy beach that you can get to - on foot - over the low hill to your left, where the main road stops.

In fact, there are 3 beaches here: the first is the one at the end of the road, the second is reached walking to the north (the beach on the 1st photo) and the third is also reached walking south behind the small fortress. The third one is also suitable to spend time under the shade of the palm-trees.



However the best selection for swimming is the northern, sandy beach. The bottom of the sea is rich. There is a whole ancient city down there giving home to a variety of fish. It is a paradise for the lovers of diving.

These are amazing beaches in Crete, secluded with perfect water. During the week it is sparsely populated but come the weekends it becomes crowded especially during July and August.There are no amenities at the beach and the closest restaurant is a 10minute drive (Palm Beach Vai), so take your own water etc. Parking can be found near the ancient site of Itanos.
 

What to do..

The site of Ancient Itanos is well worth a visit, particularly as it was once the most important settlement on Crete. Visitors to the site today can see ruins including a black stone tower, and Early Christian churches. Keen snorkelers will be pleased to hear that some of the site is under water, making the views through the crystal clear water even more rewarding. The town of Sitia nearby is off the well-worn tourist track in Crete so has retained much of its charm and relaxed atmosphere. With a busy harbour, a good variety of shops, a pretty seafront and a large sandy beach of its own, it’s a good base for exploring unspoilt Crete at its best.

 

Above the beach of Erimoupolis one can observe the red marbles that are unique to the area and which belong to the Phyllite-Quartzite unit. The rock formations can be seen from the road leading to Kyriamidis Bay. 

Archeological Museum of Heraclion
Archeological Museum of Heraclion 1457 hits
 
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Herakleion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide. 
 
The museum, located in the town centre, was built between 1937 and 1940 by architect Patroklos Karantinos on a site previously occupied by the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by earthquake in 1856. The museum's antiseismic building is an important example of modernist architecture and was awarded a Bauhaus commendation. Karantinos applied the principles of modern architecture to the specific needs of a museum by providing good lighting from the skylights above and along the top of the walls, and facilitating the easy flow of large groups of people. He also anticipated future extensions to the museum. The colours and construction materials, such as the veined polychrome marbles, recall certain Minoan wall-paintings which imitate marble revetment. The two-storeyed building has large exhibition spaces, laboratories, a drawing room, a library, offices and a special department, the so-called Scientific Collection, where numerous finds are stored and studied. The museum shop, run by the Archaeological Receipts Fund, sells museum copies, books, postcards and slides. There is also a cafe. 
 
The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture and its purpose is to acquire, safeguard, conserve, record, study, publish, display and promote Cretan artefacts from the Prehistoric to the Late Roman periods. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions in Greece and abroad, collaborates with scientific and scholarly institutions, and houses a variety of cultural events.
 
History
The first archaeological collection of the town of Herakleion was constituted in 1883 with the initiative of the local Philekpaideutikos Syllogos (Association of Friends of Education), which was headed by the doctor and antiquarian Joseph Chatzidakis. Chatzidakis also obtained permission from the Ottoman authorities to establish the first 'archaeological service'. The collection was housed inside two rooms in the courtyard of the cathedral of Agios Minas, and by 1900 was enriched with private donations, new acquisitions and finds from the first small excavations and surface surveys. After large-scale excavations began on the island in 1900, the archaeological collection came to include the first important finds from these. Around that time the museum was ceded to the newly established Cretan state and was subsequently moved to the barracks building of the modern nome of Herakleion under the first Keepers of Antiquities Joseph Chatzidakis and Stephanos Xanthoudidis. 
 
The first display room was built in 1904-1907 over the remains of the famous Venetian monastery of Saint Francis, next to the Hounkiar Djami. The antiquities' collection was moved there after the addition of a second room in 1908. In 1912, this small building was given a Neoclassical appearance with the construction of a west wing designed by architect Wilhelm D?rpfeld and Panagis Kavvadias, Secretary of the Athens Archaeological Society. The collection continued to be enriched by the finds from the great excavations by Greek and foreign archaeologists. 
 
The construction of the current museum began in 1937 on plans by architect Patroklos Karantinos. During the Second World War the museum's antiquities were at great risk, but they were saved thanks to the exertions of Professor Nikolaos Platon. Platon supervised the re-exhibition of the museum's treasures and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1952. The display illustrated the chronological development of Minoan civilization, the history of archaeological research and of the great discoveries on Crete during the early twentieth century (Knossos, Phaistos and Malia palaces etc), and the prevalent theories on Aegean Prehistory. In 1962 the museum bought the collection of the Cretan doctor Stylianos Giamalakis, which was displayed on the first floor. In 1964 the new wing was added to the building and the museum's director Stylianos Alexiou subsequently completed the exhibition. In 2000 the museum acquired the Nikos Metaxas collection, part of which will soon go on display. 
 
In 1987 the building received new electricity, air conditioning and fire protection installations, and the skylights in the display rooms were replaced with false ceilings and artificial lighting. A new refurbishment based on plans by architect Alexandros Tombazis began in 2002; it will include the re-opening of the original skylights, new electro-mechanical installations (air conditioning, lighting, security, fire protection etc) and a new wing of storerooms to the north of the building. It will also highlight the remains of the Venetian church of Saint Francis on the east side of the atrium.
 
 
Exhibitions
The permanent exhibition of the Herakleion Archaeological Museum
The collections of the Herakleion Archaeological Museum include unique works of Cretan art, found in excavations across the central and eastern part of the island and which cover a chronological span of roughly 7000 years, from the Neolithic (7000 BC) to the Roman period (3rd century AD). Most objects date to prehistoric times and to the so-called Minoan period, named after the island's mythical king, Minos. They include pottery, carved stone objects, seals, small sculpture, metal objects and wall-paintings, which were discovered in palaces, mansions, settlements, funerary monuments, sanctuaries and caves. 
 
After the completion of the new exhibition project in April 2014, the exhibition occupies a total of twenty seven rooms. Several important themes, such as Minoan wall-paintings are presented separately from the overall chronological sequence. The objects give a complete image of Cretan civilization, as it developed in different regions and important centres. Social, ideological and economic aspects form the core of the display, with a strong focus on religious and ceremonial practices, mortuary habits, bureaucratic administration and daily life. Explanatory texts, photographs, drawings and models of monuments supplement the exhibition.
 
Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos
Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos 1447 hits


The archaeological Museum of Kalymnos is housed in the 19th c. mansion of the Vouvalis family, who were sponge fishers. It was built in the mid 19th c. and inaugurated in 1894. The dining room has been reconstructed with the dinner service, the living-room, the office with the commercial correspondence, the service rooms, the storerooms and the photographic archives, complete with all the furniture and family household objects.

Because of the lack of space, the archaeological collection will be moved to a specially organized building. The future display will include figurines, pottery and coins of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (7th-1st c. BC) from the necropolis in the Damos district and the depository of the naiskos of Apollo Dalios.

 

The Museum contains the following collections:

Prehistoric collection, comprising pottery, figurines and tools from the Neolithic, Minoan and Mycenaean periods.

Classical collection, comprising pottery, inscriptions, figurines and sculptures, chiefly of the Hellenistic period.

Reconstruction of the interior of a 19th c. mansion, including the dining room, living-room, storerooms, service rooms and photographic archives of the Vouvalis family.

Private Vouvalis archaeological collection, comprising pottery, lamps and small objects, chiefly of the Hellenistic period.

http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh151.jsp?obj_id=3441

 

Dimotiki Agora Chanion
Dimotiki Agora Chanion 1359 hits

The Municipal Market of Chania is located in the centre of the city and is an iconic building of Chania. With its 4,000 sq.m. this is one of the most important buildings of its kind in the Balkans. Since 1980 it has been declared as a protected monument.

In this place there was once the main venetian bastion, Piatta Forma, which was the entrance to the city. Like today, until the early 20th century took place here an outdoor street market of the villagers of the surrounding area. In 1908 by decision of the Municipal Authority began plans to create a building that would house the market, and would give the city a more organized image. The construction of the building began in 1911, with plans to the standards of the Marseilles market, influenced by the architecture of the industrial revolution, and was completed in 1913 where it was inaugurated on 4 December 1913, three days after the union of Crete with Greece, by the Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos.

The building consists of four wings with separate entrances, and joined together forming a cross shape in plan of the building. Inside of it are housed 76 shops consisting of butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, a pharmacy and several shops with souvenirs.