Armeni Village: A small paradise in Apokoronas
Armeni – Apokoronas – Chania Property Guide: The green diamond of Apokoronas as locals call Armeni, is a natural monument on its own. Maybe less known than the famous villages of Kalives, Almirida and Gavalochori, this charming village where the Kiliaris River runs through it, definitively deserves a visit. Armenoi is located inland from Kalyves on the north coast of the island and just 14 kilometers from the city of Chania. Settled in a magnificent location, full of plane trees (platanus) and plenty springs, Armeni is a paradise. Its name originated from the Armenians soldiers who served in the army of Nikiforos Fokas (his brilliant military achievements contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century) and were its first inhabitants after 961 A.D.
The area around Armeni seems to have been occupied since the first centuries of the establishment of Christianity in Crete. Considering the partly damaged, yet exceptionally mosaic floors with architectonic and decorative elements that have been discovered in the church of the Virgin Mary as well as other remains of the same period near the church of St John Theologos built during the Venetian occupation (1204 – 1669 A.D.). During the Cretan revolution against the Turks the village of Armeni became the command center of the local government for almost five years.
Engaged in a continuing dual fight for their freedom from Ottoman rule and for their union with Greece, Cretans gathered under a plane tree in Armeni village and voted for their autonomy (Fight for Faith and Motherland). The proclamation of General Assembley of Crete “The Temporary State of Crete” was issued on May 1822 at Armeni and is a conclusion of sorts to the many uprisings that had taken place in prior decades against successive Ottoman regimes in Crete. To commemorate this historical event the village of Armeni was renamed Eleftheroupoli’, (Ελευθερούπολη, Freedom City).
Relaxation and Tranquility
The village of Armeni is popular for its springs and the dense vegetation. At the entrance of the village, you will see a traditional watermill, declared a historical Venetian monument that’s worth a visit. If you take a seat in the kafeneion on the square (platea) or in one of the beautiful taverns you may feel the charisma and the vibes of Armeni village. Totally charming, Armeni village is cool, green and platanus-scented even on the hottest of days. Under the shade of the platanus, gushing rich springs forming “Xydas” river that flows to the beach of Kalives. The plentiful waters irrigate the village, which is planted with fruit trees, olive groves, vegetables and flowers.
Delicious Food and Vegetables
In the middle of this fascinating village, on the small triangular central square with a few taverns arranged around a huge, shady plane tree, you will find the kafenion which sells fresh bread and serves as a post-office. Here, you can quench your thirst or socialize with the locals who will greet you with a friendly, kali mera (good morning), or at sunset with kali spera (good evening). If you venture into one of the tavernas you will find a view that is breath taking accompanied with solace and peace. Across the road from the kafenion in platea is the Kostas butcher’s shop/dairy which has been described as ‘the best food shop in Crete’. Additionally, freshly harvested fruit and vegetables can be found in the area from small local farmers. There is also a small mini -market and surprisingly, a magnificent delicatessen with delightful local cheeses, yoghurt and sausages as well as a large choice of frozen fish and sea food.
Shrines to the Virgin Mary and Agios Nikolaos
In the village of Armeni there are a couple of Byzantine churches. Agios Nikolaos is the largest and the most impressive among them because of its size and the yellow stones used for its construction. It is also worth visiting the church of St. John the Theologian built during the Venetian period and the small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia).