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Category: Museum
Prefecture: Heraclion
Address: Μονή Καρδιωτίσσης
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Roza 2716 hits
The gorge of Ampelos is located 1km southeast from Gonies village, 14km south of Malia coastal resort in central Crete. 

This beautiful gorge is crossed by the river of Aposelemis and features impressive rock formations and a beautiful natural environment. The total length of the gorge is 2km and can by crossed by foot or by car. Following the road that crosses the gorge of Ampelos to the south, you will reach three springs (The springs of Agkathariano) with year round water flow.

There is a second gorge close to Ambelos gorge: The gorge of Roza. This gorge is a "branch" of the gorge of Ampelos. Its entrance is next to the provincial road that crosses the gorge of Ampelos. Its route is south-east and leads to Kera Monastery. It is also an ideal gorge for walking and hiking.

Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
Kera Kardiotissa Monastery 2708 hits

The Monastery of Kera Kardiotissa: Female monastery located on a slope of Lasithi mountains, next to Kera village. After the village of Gonia, the road climbs steadily up the western slopes of Mount Dikti or Lassithi Mountains, which are covered with low vegetation (bushes and wild flowers) and with sparse trees. 

Just before the village of Kera, you will see on your right, next to the road, the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Kera (closed between 1.00-3.30 p.m.).

The picturesque monastery of Kera, which is dedicated to the birth of Mary, the Mother of God and dates back to 1333, is situated among the settle­ments of Ano Kera, and Kera. Initially, it used to be the glebe of the Monastery of Agarathos, but subsequently it became stavropigiaki, which means that it belonged to and came under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Since and during the Cretan revolutions it was a point of assembly for the rebels, it was ravaged by the Turks many times.

The monastery is famous, mainly due an icon of Virgin Mary, which is believed to have performed many miracles.As the legend goes, the icon itself returned from Constantinople by flying, after being stolen by the Turks twice. Desperate of this, they stole it for the third time by chaining it onto a pillar. That time, the icon returned to Crete on the pillar, which is currently enclosed within a rail and it is exhibited in the courtyard of the monastery for worship. As for the chain, it is considered to be working miracles and it is kept in the church.


Karfi 2689 hits
Karfi, Crete, (also Karphi, Greek: Καρφί) is a little-visited archaeological site high in the Dikti Mountains that is akin to Machu Picchu for the Minoan civilization. When the warlike mixed group conventionally referred to as Dorians arrived in Crete from the Peloponnese after ca 1100 BCE, archaeological reconstructions suggest that they would have found the Minoan people living along with the Mycenaeans, surviving as an underclass. 

No doubt the Minoan language continued to be spoken by the peasants, though inscriptions, now in Linear B, were all in a form of Greek associated with a Mycenaean upper class (BBC).The Dorians seem to have driven the local people up into the hills; the latest towns with Minoan material culture are in more and more inaccessible places, the last one being at Karfi, high in the Dikti Mountains, though the date range for the site is broad. There are house complexes, a tripartite megaron-type building with hearth and a sanctuary, where votive figures were found.

At Karfi the last of the Eteocretan Minoan settlements retreated to the slopes of this barren mountain, from which they had a view of the Sea of Crete, the valley of Pediada, and the plateau of Lassithi with Iraklion, where the finds from Karfi are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum (Room 11). In the mountains of Eastern Crete a non-Greek language was still being spoken and sometimes inscribed into Classical times, and the people who spoke it were still identified as "Eteocretans"— "true Cretans".The peak of Karfi was originally a peak sanctuary, occupying a typical site on a high shoulder (some 1.1 km above sea level) with a wide "viewshed" (Soetens, Driessen et al.) that connected it with sightlines to other sites, typical of the network developed in the "first Palace period" (Middle Minoan IB–II, 1900–1800BCE) onwards, but probably abandoned, perhaps under increased religious centralization, in Middle MinoanIIIA (ca 1650BCE). The rocky site that the last of the Minoans returned to is dominated by a bifurcated stone outcropping that is unmistakably like the carved and shaped crescent horn stone altars known in Crete and Cyprus.

At this high remote ancient sacred site a fragment of Minoan civilization survived intact for about 400 years after the occupation of Knossos. Several clay religious figurines have been found there including the cylindrical skirted goddesses in cylindrical skirts with their hands raised in the epiphany gesture.

J. D. S. Pendlebury and the British Archaeology School extensively excavated the ruins in 1937 and 1939. Some believe only one third of the site has been excavated (Swindale).Jones declares Karphi a peak sanctuary, while other sources suggest doubt (see Swindale). Finds inventoried by Jones include ceramic loom weights, miniature vases, and the clay human and animal figurines that are ubiquitous among peak sanctuaries.The Minoan town includes a shrine with an altar, single story houses and paved streets. Two Minoan cemeteries with tholos tombs are located near the village. The village dates from Late Minoan IIIc, and if the site does indeed include a peak sanctuary, it was of the Middle Minoan period.
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Krassi 2687 hits

Village Krassi Or Krasi (being also the homonymous municipal borough of Pediada region) lies 600m above the sea level in the municipality of Malia in Heraklion Prefecture. It is built on the northwest foot of Selena mountain (h. 1559 m.) and it is 46,3 km away from Heraklion city. The main profession of the inhabitants is the cultivation of olive trees and dairy farming.

Krasi is quite an old village. Some reports run back to 1280, whilst another mentions that the village numbered 169 inhabitants in 1583. An interesting fact about the village is that the Turks did not invade it during the times of the Turkish occupation.Northwest of the village, at the foot of Selena mountain one finds forests of different types of oak tree and maple trees. At the highest spot of the village the “Great Fountain”, a water source with plenty of waters, saturates an extensive area with fruitful trees, mainly walnut trees.

Close to the fountain, nearby the main square of the village, grows an enormous oak tree (the ambit of its trunk being 22m.) casting its shadow on the biggest part of the square, making it a very pleasant stop for the summer traveler when the heat sizzles every inch of bare land. This oak tree is well known for its size and for its age, which, as estimated by the locals, must be over 1000 years old.

Nikos Kazantzakis makes reference to the old oak tree in some of his books, as Krasi is a place he visited himself for his holidays. Today’s visitor can spot the stone that is placed by the fountain, informing him that great men of the Greek literature, such as N. Kazantzakis, K. Varnalis  and M. Avgeris were frequent visitors of the village.

What follows is an incident that took place in the summer of 1911, when N. Kazantzakis, his friend H. Stefanides, K. Varnalis, M. Avgeris, Elli Alexiou and Galateia (all of which are important figures of modern Greek literature) spent their summer holidays in Crassi.Elli Alexiou, only 17 years old at the time, remembers, as she describes later in her book, (a biography of N. Kazantzakis called “In order to grow up”) the “invasion” of painting in her life. “Every now and then…”she writes “came the carrier from Heraklion and along with rice he would drop the tubes I had ordered…” referring to the paint tubes she needed for her painting attempts. “I remember with such love the inside of our home…the corner with the fireplace…and the middle room. A couple of bottles on the shelf, a spindle and a cotton ball forgotten on the old chair in front of the fireplace, lying on the side”. This is the picture she painted in one of her paintings.

She also recalls that “Nikos (Kazantzakis) enjoyed very much that painting. «What shall we call it, Galateia asked, what shall we call it?» she asked whilst looking at it. And he without saying a word, took his pen and wrote in ink in the right hand corner «Crassi, Sweet Home, July, August, Sept. 1911, Lilika»” They used to call Elli Alexiou, Lilika at the time.

Varnalis asked Elli to marry him but her father was clear: “You ‘re still kids, you need to wait for another four years!” “Another four years! What on earth are you talking about? Do you think love is like Methuselah?” was Varnalis’ reaction. “Superior than, Methuselah.  Love lasts for a lifetime in honest men!” And as we know, this love never meant to lead Elli and Varnalis to church. Elli offered this small painting with Kazantzakis’ note on, to her beloved K. Varnalis.

In 1915 Varnalis came to Keratea and took over the school’s management. His house is still there. The current owner of the house Manos Pothetos told us that the painting (Elli’s gift) and a vase Varnalis owned are still in the house. It remains unclear how these objects were left in that house, as Varnalis had moved out when he was sent to another school in 1917 and left Keratea. Elli Alexiou, the respectful teacher, did not take up painting after her early teenage attempts. This aspect of her life is not even known at all.

As we were informed, during the last few years of her life, in 1985, Elli found out about the painting, still being in Keratea. She visited the house and was deeply touched when she looked at the painting. But the owner of the house, despite Elli’s generous offers, refused to give her the painting. So she decided to take a photograph of it; she placed that photograph, that induced very dear memories inside her, in her personal corner of her house.

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Ano Kera 2686 hits
Kera Village is located 23km south of Mallia city on the way to Lassithi plateau. This is spread in the middle of a valley with abundant waters and luxuriant vegetation. Verdant with fructiferous trees, it offers a breathtaking view. The village lies at the entrance of the Lassithi Plateau. Epano Kera Miniti and Kato Kera are situated at an altitude of 680 and 580metres, respectively. Their name comes from the homonymic monastery of Panagia Kera Kardiotissa (Holly Mother). 

This was built between the two villages and is characterized as a Byzantine monument (961 – 1204 A.D.) Its establishment is related to the thaumaturge icon of Virgin Mary, which is kept in the church of Saint Alfonso Escuelino in Rome, nowadays. The work is attributed to Saint Lazarus dating from the 9th century. That historic monastery used to be the point of guard for the Lassithi Plateau, during Cretan combats. The visitor is impressed by the primeval ways of worship while listening to legends of local tradition and observing the wall paintings in the temple. One can relax with the inhabitants’ hospitality, the view and the environment over a glass of the famous raki, relish the palatable, traditional food served in the taverns of the village and buy the famous popular art handcrafts. Moreover, there are the local celebrations of Panagia Kardiotissa on 8th of September and of Agios Ioannis Rigologos on 29th of August, with traditional music and dances.
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Big Tree 2672 hits

The Monumental plane tree is located in Krasi village at Malia, in the central square of the village. The tree is considered to be over 2,400 years old and is the trademark of the village.


It is not the only perennial plane tree of the village, as there are two more plane trees nearby, but it is the oldest as it is calculated from the perimeter of its trunk which is 14 meters. In 2011 the tree was designated as a Natural Monument and is considered to be one of the 5 largest European trees.

Its branches and dense foliage cover the entire square, offering shade. Very close to the tree there are two springs that run water all year round and explain the existence of the perennial trees.