Return to Home Page Harrys Greece Guide

Rethymnon Prefecture Continued Page Twenty

West of Rethymnon town

west of rethymnoThe Old Road heads inland from the coast after a few minutes, heading towards Roustika with its nearby monastery of Profitis Ilias, founded near the end of the Venetian period. The village is attractive, and there is a frescoed church there. On the New Road along the coast is Yerani, and the nearby Yerani cave, which was discovered in 1967 when the road was being built. The cave was a Neolithic sanctuary, where well-made obsidian and bone tools were found (shown in the Rethymnon museum). Also found were bones of the giant deer (strangely named 'dwarf deer').

Around here the road follows the Almirou Gulf (Sandy Gulf) and there are sandy beaches right by the road as well, sheltered a little from the road and traffic by oleanders. Swimmers should be forewarned that strong currents can be a problem here, and to take caution. Various streams cross the road along here, which provide some good bird-watching. At this point you can see the White Mountains (Levka Ori) in front of you towards the west, as you approach the western boundary of Rethymno province on its coastal end a little past the inland village of Episkopi The old road towards the latter is more scenic, however, with some nice villages along the way.

Argiroupoli ancient LappaFrom Episkopi the road heads almost due south to the fascinating village of Argyroupolis (which means 'silver city')., built on the site of ancient Lappa (right). There's little preserved of the ancient site, but the village very beautiful, set above and on the slopes of the Mousselas river valley, which is filled with springs from which the city of Rethymnon gets perhaps a fourth of its water. During Venetian times, this town was a center for Cretan aristocracy. The red-tiled roofs of the village are pitched, the slopes below them very green, and a lush green mountain looms up on the other side of the river valley, giving the village the look of a place somewhere in the Balkans. A path leads down the wooded slope to the pedestrian road along the stream below, with tavernas where one can sit and listen to the sound of the ubiquitous springs.

The countryside near Argyroupoli is also worth exploring, with Myriokephala and its former monastery church of the Panayia founded in the 10th or 11th century, which has Byzantine frescoes that are among Crete's earliest. There are large-canopied trees in the village. Another road climbs to Asi Gonia at 400meters/1312feet, a village noted for its traditional Cretan architecture, and which was the home village of author Yiorgos Psychoundakis, who wrote The Cretan Runner, a book which describes the incredible rescue of the women of a village from execution by a German platoon by guerrillas who fired on the platoon from a hill up above. There is a sheep-shearing festival here at the church on 23 April, where the sheep are brought at dawn, milked, sheared, and dedicated to Aghios Yiorgos, (Saint George) the village's patron saint.

Rethymno Prefecture Continued: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20