Who says only Chania Old Town is beautiful and alluring? Crete is full of really eye-catching and fascinating villages and the region of Apokoronas is famous for its small, yet of exceptional beauty settlements and villages.
They are located near the coastline or near the impressive White Mountains overlooking the Aegean Sea, medieval, historical, with narrow streets adorned with bougainvillea. The best summary of the Cretan essence is located in Apokoronas.
The major villages of Apokoronas are Vamos, Armenoi and Vryses, with police, municipal and utility offices as well as taverns and large churches; Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupoli are the largest beach resorts in this part of Crete.
The district capital Vamos, home to only 600 permanent residents, serves tourists exploring Crete’s northwestern coastline. Tourism and agriculture are the major local industries, with much construction and quarrying to satisfy the demands of many foreigners eager to buy or rent properties in what used to be beautiful and traditional villages.
At the present time, Gavalohori is among the more popular villages for foreign buyers, with a large amount of often low-quality building taking place. Many residents or workers in Chania also have homes in the area.
From cobblestone paths, to 19th century churches, and from Venetians remains to luscious green fields – these authentic Cretan villages in Apokoronas will surely charm you away.
Gavalochori is a traditional Cretan village situated in the centre of the scenic Apokoronas Peninsula. It is location is 4 km inland from the coastal village of Almirida and is ideally settled at the end of an olive green and forested valley leading down to the sea.
The exquisite beach of Georgioupolis and the charming old Venetian Harbour of Chania are located 10 km and 25 km away respectively. According to tradition, the village was named after the family of one of the 12 Archons of Constantinople (Gavalades) that settled in Crete in 1082 following the commands of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komninos.
Thankfully, Gavalochori village has somehow remained untouched by tourists and still manage to retain its original character with picturesque narrow lanes and old, yet wonderful neighbourhoods.
Many of the houses in the village have been recently renovated from their owners. However, the traditional architectural elements of the original construction, such as the vaulted ceilings and small openings, are well preserved and combined with modern elements.
Explore the charming village of the authentic Cretan rural life, its exquisite scenery, colourful culture and rich heritage. The visitors in Gavalochori can indulge in activities such as walking, mountain biking, bird-watching, horse riding and trekking. The pleasant idea of sleeping under the clear sky and gazing the stars simply delights everyone in this part of Crete!
Gavalochori enhances the pristine beauty of nature and authenticity. The seductive serenity of its surroundings and the climate have an amazing impact; they refresh, relax and rejuvenate! Verdant and tranquil, Gavalochori is a village that epitomises Crete’s rural heart.
Gavalochori is a village with many memories of hard times, both under Ottoman rule as well as under German occupation. Many heroic men from Gavalochori had been killed for their faith, and a war monument and a plaque are evidence thereof.
In the same area one can find restored Byzantine walls, a well preserved Turkish fountain, 18th century arched olive oil factories and even walls washed with indigo dust. In the village there are remains from the Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish periods, and artefacts found in the wider area proof that the village was inhabited in earlier times (Minoan, Neolithic and Roman times).
And last but not least, history buffs on the Historical – Folklore Museum of Gavalochori can admire 19th century household artifacts. The Museum which is a characteristic example of local traditional architecture stands on two levels and is divided into seven rooms: The Arched House, Silk, Pottery, Lace-making, Masonry and Stone carving, Church and Woodcarving.
On the outskirts of the village are the remains of an ancient settlement with 30 Byzantine wells, well-known as Gavaliana. Carved into the stone with semi-domes like ceilings, these constructions completed during the Byzantine times and used as the village’s water supply facilities. Today many of them have been covered, but those remaining open still have water inside. ΄
For a relatively small, landlocked country, Gavalochori contains an exceptional amount of natural beauty. Feel the tranquillity and relax in beautiful natural surroundings. Enjoy the gorgeous natural scenery of Apokoronas around the group of Venetian wells, the Roman cemetery, the charming neighbourhoods and the wonderful church of Agios Pavlos.
Gavalochori village enjoys beautiful surroundings, providing plenty of outdoor activities in a tranquil setting. Visitors can also venture out along one of the many walking trails or take one of the ancient pathways leading to panoramic viewpoints.
Despite its rural location, Gavalochori is just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Chania, meaning access to the wonderful Chania bars, restaurants and museums is incredibly easy. If you don’t want to travel too far, Gavalochori itself provides a plethora of tavernas serving delicious Cretan dishes, fresh and locally sourced meats, cheeses, bread and vegetables.
There are also two kafeneia (coffee shops), a pastry shop with cafe bar, three small, yet excellent grocery stores and a handicrafts shop. The beautiful churches of Panagia and Agios Sergios are the jewels of this village and thus, also worth a visit. During high season the village can be crowded with tourists visiting from along the coast.
Higher in the village the streets turn into more quiet and peaceful neighbourhoods and the higher you climb the quieter it becomes.
The region of Apokoronas extends from the foothills of the White Mountains north to the coast, in a wide plain with rolling hills. To the east, Cape Drapanon rises above the plain and extends out into the Sea of Crete.
The area is very green and fertile. The Kiliaris river, known in antiquity as ‘Pyknos’, runs through the region. Robert Pashley suggested that the name ‘Apokoronas’ came from the ancient city of Ippokoronas or Ippokoronion, also cited by Strabo.
There is a unique culture in the area of Apokoronas that sets it apart from anywhere else in Crete. From the cuisine to how they spend their time with family and enjoy the present and cherish every moment of life.
There are many ways to discover this way of life, but exploring the lesser-travelled but equally stunning locations on these spectacular villages is one of the best!
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