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.
Vamos, a tranquil and the most famous village in Apokoronas offers a peaceful retreat in an idyllic landscape 25 km east from the beautiful city of Chania. Sheltered by the rolling foothills of the White Mountains, Vamos has a captivating ambience.
Vamos is one of the few ecotourism villages in Crete with many traditional buildings still completely intact or delightfully renovated. The village also boasts archaeological discoveries, charming orthodox monasteries and plenty of wonderful chapels.
Tourists will enjoy meandering through the village’s winding roads, walking along the olive groves, and visiting Karidi Monastery dating back to 1850 with its lovely old olive mill.
Nestled at the foot of the White Mountains, the picturesque village of Vamos boasts a wealth of monuments and an impressive cultural heritage. In the 9th century Vamos was inhabited by Arab pirates and in 1863 a Pasha named Savas selected Vamos as the Capital of Sfakia.
Because of its decision, the village encountered a great development with a mosque, an administrative center (serai), school and army barracks. Unfortunately, these buildings were all burned and demolished during the great battle of 1896 against the Turks. However, there is still a well-preserved traditional stone road and the walks around the old part of the village are worth visiting.
Vamos has an abundance of natural riches to explore. There are kilometers of nice forest trails and great views from the many viewpoints on the expansive common. Τhere are a wide variety of walks, ranging from short scenic walks to strenuous ones.
A unique feature of the area is that visitors can enjoy the mountain experience without the crowds – that are sometimes found in the busier parts of Apokoronas. One of the highlights of the area is to visit a magnificent pine-tree forest using a footpath with excellent views.
The walk covers a variety of land including farmland, forestry and provides an overview of Apokoronas and the White Mountains.
The architectural heritage is well-preserved in Vamos: a well-preserved traditional stone road, the old neighbourhood of the village from the Turkish period, well painted Chapels of Virgin Mary (monument of 13th century), and Agios Georgios (Karidi Monastery13th-19th), with the most spectacular scenery of an old olive press with 12 arches are just some of the most significant paradigms.
Those arches, built with local materials such as stone, wood and soil, these still impress with their authentically and architectural characteristics.
Throughout the centuries Vamos has been home to many musicians and singers and this is still true nowadays. During the 80’s, several significant cultural events happened in Vamos from famous performers.
In recent years several artists and performers from around the world have chosen to make Vamos their home, and many more have chosen to take their holidays in this spectacular village.
In the capital village of Apokoronas many old houses and from the 18, 19 and 20th century have been renovated and currently operate as traditional guest houses, restaurants, cafes, wineries and dairy factories. It is also important to mention that until the 19th century the architectural design was significantly influenced by the Venetian domination.
Although this small village is home to approximately 1,200 inhabitants, there are plenty of shops, boutiques, petrol station and restaurants to interest the many tourists who visit throughout the year.
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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