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Georgioupolis - 73100 Crete, Greece
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central complex
On the outside

Beautiful stone work frames the dark green doorways and windows, further accentuated by the pastel strawberry and lemon walls.

Add to this lovely tiled roofs and backdrop of the blue sky and mountains, and then you begin to understand why we were so smitten.
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REGION

 
FLAURA AND FAUNA

Flaura And Fauna

In Georgioupolis biotopes 174 bird species have been recorded: others live and breed permanently, others rest during their immigration and others are winter passing birds. Wildfowl birds, like herons, cormorants, swans, ducks, robins and birds of prey can be found in the river estuaries and the beach as well as the lake, giving the opportunity for bird watching activities. Many of these species have been recognized as rare and endangered, like ferruginous duck {Aythya nyroca), bittern (Botaurus stellaris), greater spotted eagle (Aquilla danga) and Eleonora' s falcon (Falco eleonorae). Other common species found in the area are the leopard snake (Elaphe situla), the stripe-necked terrapin (Mauremys caspica), the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the monk seal (Monachus monachus). Approximately 400 plant species have been recorded, with most common the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), the myrtle, the Cretan oak, the oleander (Nerium oleander), the endemic Cretan cyclamen (Cyclaminus cretica), the aquatic plants of the rivers and the lake (like the fennel pondweed) and the sand dwelling plants, such as the sensitive sea daffodil. However it is unique, probably in whole Crete, the forest of Holm oak, locally known as "azilakas". It is a dense and aged forest accessible and suitable for long walks throughout the year.


HISTORIC

HISTORY

 

Historic elements appear in the area from Minoan era. Excavations revealed a Minoan type grave in the area of Kastellos while artifacts for worship places have  been  recovered  in the cave of "Korakia". Archaeological sites have been spotted south of the village of Georgioupolis, where the ancient city of Amfimalla used to be, and east of the village Dramia (ancient Ydramia or Ydramio). The latter was built on the hill of Kefalas and used to be the port of ancient city of Lappa (present village 'of Argyroupolis). In the museum of Chania, archaeological finds from the area showed that the city was built during the late Minoan period (1580-1 100 BC) and flourished during the Roman occupation. Finally, north of the lake at the settlement of Kavailos finds from the Roman period were recovered and it is considered that on the shore of the lake a temple devoted to the goddess Athena stood.

 

During the Byzantine era the royal family of Melissinos ruled the area. The monk John the Foreigner was involved in important activities in the area during the 11* century where he founded the monastery of Saint George (Douvrika). Through his wi!!, the monk left us valuable information concerning the development of vineyard and vegetable cultivation and honey production around the ‘’Mousela’’ river. By the beginning of 13"1 century Crete comes under the rule of the Venetians. The literature gives the names of the existing at that time villages: Azogeromuri, Chrussopoli, Castelo Mathe, Flachi, Dramia, Cufna, Calamitsi Amygdalu. The most flourishing villages were inland and in such places where there was natural protection (hilltops). Since the ‘’Almyros’’ bay was a perfect spot for sea invasion, the Venetians built a fortress there.

 

The fortress of Almyros was the centre of many conquering battles during the next centuries that targeted the control of the area till its destruction from the Cretan   rebels 1821. During their rule the Ottomans rebuilt the fortress from the ramble but it had the same fate. The area around the fortress was called "Kastellakia" or "Paleokastella". The infamous 'Almyros’ s strait" at the river estuary, had become a thieves and smugglers hiding place and was avoided by travelers. It is also believed that it was a centre for black market of Turkish gold lira. The river was navigable up to 500 meters inland and was a shelter for small sailing boats while the Alamitos’s bay northwards bigger sailing boats and steamboats found refuge. East there was a small island (today linked with the land) where a sailor, a century ago, built a small church devoted to the protector of all seamen Saint Nicholas, South and west of the area remains of defensive constructions show the much suffering history of the land

 

A City Emerged From the Marsh

 

'As far as the eye can see many trees and tall shrubs, but also huge reeds and thousands of frogs, the messengers of malaria". That was how a European traveler of the 19,h century described the area, where people feeling insecure left the land uncultivated. That resulted to the domination of marshes over fields, a source of a terrible malaria epidemic that killed dozens of people. In this deserted land, around 1880, a rich merchant came from Athens, he perceived the value of the - land and tried to take advantage the richness in water for the cultivation of the land. Miltiades Papadogiannakis, who was born in Kalamitsi, despite the adversities he built a house at "Kastellakia" and started an effort to persuade people settle in the area and help the restoration of cultivated land from marsh. In the beginning he was alone, but soon the help he expected came and until 1893 people were settling in the area. The marshes were dried, hundreds of eucalyptus and other trees were planted, and a new city was founded by the name of Almyroupolisc In 1899, in remembrance of the liberation of Crete from the Ottomans and the arrival of Prince George of Greece, the city was renamed to Georgioupolis. Later, it was called the co-capital of the Prefecture of Sfakia, with Miltiades Papadogiannakis as the first mayor.


ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS

ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS

 

On the location called Vlychada (Almyros's river estuary) are still saved wall ruins of a paleo-christianic basilica and ceramic shells around the old church of Saint Sunday. Excavations have been done at Fountana of river Mousela in Fylaki revealing a paleo-christianic basilica with a mosaic floor. In Saint George' s church at Kournas marble parts of a similar structure have been found. This church is dated back to the 12th century and is built to an unusual architectural style for Crete, a tri-part wooden roof basilica. The remaining wall paintings (hagiographies) are exceptional samples of the later Comnesian Art, and rooms, stables or workshops. People resided in upper artistic tradition that was born in Constantinople and was spread to Russia, the floors that were more decorated with architectural Balkans, Sinai Peninsula, Cyprus, Palestine and Sicily. The hagiographies of Saint the rivers Mousela and Almyros are Sunday of Kournas and Saint Theodore of Patima are characteristic of the Byzantine era and are dated back to 1362 and the 14th century respectively. Saint Sunday was restored and decorated by monk Alexander and since it had a considerable distance from the urban centers, it was not affected by the Venetian influence so that the hagiographies preserved the Cretan characteristics of Byzantine art. They are evident of the renaissance of painting during the era of emperor Palaeologos and they follow the delicate technique of icons providing an excellent sample of Cretan School of painting. The hagiographies of Saint Anna at Fylaki are dated from 16"'-17"' century. In the church used to be an impressive sculptured grave that belonged to the famous Kallergis family.


VILLAGES

Dramia

Dramia is situated on the 45thn km of the old national Road Chania Rethyrnno, on the bank of river Mousela. The name comes from the ancient city of Ydramia, which was situated on a neighboring hill. Ydramia was dated in the late-Minoan era (1580 1100 BC) and flourished during the Roman era. Archaeological excavations revealed interesting artifacts, like a clay larnaka, roman shells and a roman statue of Hercules (0, 90 m height), which are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Chania. The present village was built during the Ottoman era, around the homonymous monastery founded by a Cretan saint, John the Foreigner. In 1896 the village witnessed one of the most important battles of the Cretan revolution against the Ottomans, while during the German occupation in 2"' World War the people suffered a lot however they contributed to the Greek resistance.

Exopoli

It is a settlement of the village of Kalamitsi Amygdali, built on an altitude of 120 m and providing one of the most breathtaking views to Georgioupolis and the Almyros bay

Kavros

A seaside settlement, whose name came from the homonymous river that runs through and used to have populations of water crabs

Kalamitsi Amigdale

It is a rural village just 31 km from the city of Chania. It is built 140 m above the sea level. There are a lot of stories on how the village was named. One of them says that the village was named after a soldier of Alexander the Great, while another refers to the big production of almonds ("amygdalo" in Greek) in older years. Some of the interesting sites of the village are an old spring and the church of Saint Paul, dated 200 years ago. In addition, there is a silk processing women group which is very famous for its silk made traditional products.

 

Kastellos

Semi-mountainous village built on the feet of the White Mountains on an altitude of 252 m. It’s named derived from the site it was built (like a castle). Originally the village was situated lower en the valley in the present area of the settlement Agathes from where the inhabitants were forced to leave in 1800 due to the Ottomans. Close to the village a there was in 1835 a severe battle amongst Cretans and Ottomans that left 22 dead Ottomans and just 1 Cretan. It was the reason that the Ottomans stopped raiding the area. The locals had an important contribution to the resistance against the Germans fascists during the 2nd World War.

Kournas

It is a big village, situated on the feet of the mountain "Dafnomadara" (1680 m) at an altitude of 200 m. It rests in a fertile plain that provides water to the homonymous lake and is run through by three rivers. Kournas is an historical village that flourished even from 1583. Many battles took place around it. it resided there the Rebellion Government of 1866 (against the Ottomans) and the Cretan General Assembly of 1897. Many legends link the village to the lake (where it believed to be originally) and to its old Byzantine churches like the churches of Saint George and Saint Irene. Of great interest is the cave, situated on the hilltop by the road to Kournas providing a panoramic view.

 The cave has been measured 35 m long, 24 m wide and 2.85 m high and it gives the opportunity of admiring interesting cavernous features. The village is on the way to Kournas. Close by we find a gothic type church, the church of Saint Anthony of 14 to 15 century, where on its roof a huge fig tree has rooted. The specific tree is considered sacred and it is not allowed to be cut. Here the revolution of 1825 was originally declared

Flaki or Fylaki

Flaki is 50 km away from Chania and is situated on the east hills of Ceorgioupolis. The village took its name after the existing building of prisons and the Creek guardhouses along the river Mousela that runs through the village. The river used to be navigable while the watermill ruins that exist along the river show a pre-industrial activity. The history of Flaki is lost in time: the late Minoan grave (1500 BQ found here witness the age of the first settlement. The present village was built during the Venetian era and it became the capital of the Prefecture in 1880. That era left us with the buildings of the Prison and the Courthouse, which have interesting architectural features. The area around the village is full of myths about fairies, miracles and mysterious voices linked to the old churches, the caves, the forests and the footpaths, things that make the rumbling around the place much more interesting

Patima

Patima is one of the eight villages around the lake Kournas that are called "Kournopatimata". In 1867, a ferocious battle between Cretans and Ottomans took place.


ANNUAL CULTURAL EVENTS

Annual Cultural Events  

- 'Religious celebration of Constantine and Helen and fair every 21st of May at Kalamitsi Amygdali

- 'Religious celebration of Virgin Mary and fair every 14'h-15'h of August at Exopolis

- 'Religious celebration of Saint John Regologos and fair every 29th of August at Kournas

- 'Celebrations for the Navy Week every second year in June and July at the fishing port of Georgioupolis   

- National games of canoe-kayak «Korissia » in spring at the lake Kournas in collaboration with the Naval Club of Chania


 
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