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.
Maybe less known than the famous Almirida and Georgioupoli sea-side resorts, the village of Vrisses definitively deserves a visit. Surrounded by the White Mountains, this blessed-by-nature area plenty of river, caves, vineyards, olive groves is the ideal place to walk around and explore the province of Apokoronas. Apokoronas’ magnificent surroundings and interesting architecture have endowed Vrisses with an unparalleled beauty.
Vrisses is located at an altitude of 62 meters, 30 Km southeast of Chania, close to the national road that connects Chania to Rethymno and on the road that leads over the foothills to the Imbros Groge (about 30 minutes’ drive) and to Chora Sfakion on the south coast (about 45 minutes’ drive).
The name of the village, which means water fountains, is obviously related to the fact that there were many water fountains in the region during the past. Ideally nested at the foot of the White Mountains, Vrisses are boasting an exceptional rugged beauty in the area of Apokoronas.
As soon as you approach Vrisses you are impressed, transported… in space and time: its narrow streets, its houses of traditional architecture inspired by the surrounding countryside of Apokoronas, its church its old olive mills… If your eyes have had their fill, then your body will be able to get some exercise with the multitude of outdoor activities adapted to the area around the village.
Three small, yet wonderful rivers flow through the village of Vrisses: Boutakas, Vrissianos and Farmakera. Springing from the White Mountains, they carve, wind and splash their way through small ravines and gorges.
From its source, the Vrissianos flows eastwards, carving its way through the slopes of the Apokoronas, passing on the way stunning landscapes of rocky cliffs, green olive groves, and abundant wildlife. Here and there are traces of human life: settlements built of stone, Venetian and Minoan remains and several old bridges.
The best of these is the “Kamara”, bridge, dating back to the Greco-Roman period (300 BC to 300 AD). The bridge is one of the oldest in the island of Crete and it was an important connection point to facilitate travel on the old route from the north artery of Crete known later in the Venetian period as Royal path (1645 – 1669 AD). This region is called Greek Kamara and it is located next to the church of St. Nicholas, in the north of the road that passes through Vrisses. The bridge, which is used until nowadays, is a remarkable architectural construction. The fact that the arch (raised 6.4 meters above the river) was exclusively built with boulders without connecting mud is incredible.
At Vrisses you can find public services, two bakeries, a butcher, two supermarkets, a bank, two gas stations, pharmacy, restaurants, cafes and rooms for accommodation. The best place to enjoy an ice coffee or a Cretan dish is the central square of Vrisses, where you can sit by the Vrissianos River, under the large, centuries-old plane trees.
Well-known for its delicious goat cheese, yoghurt, honey and the traditional Sfakian pies (yummy pancakes with cheese and honey.), Vrisses gastronomy destinations will amaze you. To partake in an authentic local experience, tourists may attend some of the region’s traditional events, such as those taking place during the two first weeks of August.
Archaeological investigations at the village have concluded that the stone walls and artefacts discovered indicate that there is continuous human presence since the Neolithic period (6000 to 3000 BC).
The ancient settlement that was brought to light dates from the Late Period (16th century BC) and some of its magnificent discoveries are hosted and exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Chania.
With direct access to the National Highway, 5 minutes’ drive to Vamos, 8 minutes’ drive to Georgioupolis, and 15 minutes to Kalives, Vrisses has a privileged location. The sandy long beach of Georgiopolis is just 10 km away and the Chania International Airport “Ioannis Daskalogiannis” is located approximately 38 km away.
Nonetheless, Vrisses, aside the wonderful landscape and great accessibility offers the warm hospitality of its people. An experience to remember!
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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