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Crete: Rethymnon Prefecture Continued Page Fourteen

Amari Valley

Amari mapJust east of Rethymnon the road at Perivolia heads southeast to this beautiful broad valley that lies beneath the southwest flank of Mt. Psiloritiis. It is a valley of orchards-olive, cherry, pears and figs, with forty small villages scattered throughout, and there's plenty of water, as the greenness of the area attests. It is also a place that has served as a refuge, notably after the Venetian conquest, and during the Nazi occupation. To the west of the valley is Mt. Kedhros ('kedhros' the word for cedar tree) at 1777meters/5,828feet, with a road to the northwest that connects with the village of Spili . At the head of the valley on the eastern side stands the 14th (or 15th)century church of Apostoli, and a little farther on, you can see the whole valley from Aghia Fotini.

ancient syvritosThe village of Thronos (throne)The village of Thronos (left), just off of the main road past there, sits beneath the site of ancient Sybrita (right) , whose acropolis was on the hill behind Thronos. Though there isn't much left of this ancient town, the views from up there are wonderful. Sybrita was once the ruling town of the entire fertile and wooded valley of Amari, its port at Soulia (now Aghia Galini). Present-day Thronos is a small place, with one of its main attractions the mosaic that spreads from under the village church built on the foundations of the the much larger Byzantine church there. Inside are 14th and 15th century frescoes. The village takes its name from the time when the village was a bishopric (hence the name, which means 'throne'). Thronos is one of the few villages in the valley with some rooms, and, more interesting, (and little known to other than traditional Cretan music aficionados), is the home of one of the old and the church of St. John 

Theologianrespected craftsmen who made Cretan lyras (the Cretan lyra being a small, upright held fiddle played with the fingernails and the main melody instrument played in traditional Cretan music). One of the truly spectacular features of this village is its nature, with amazing views of the surrounding countryside with an other-worldly quality when mists settle in distant valleys. From here you can hike in about two hours to the Moni Arkadhi, or you can walk to the village of nearby Kaloyeros (which means 'monk'-literally: the 'good old man'). The stone church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos (above left) with 14th century frescoes (above) is near this village.

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