On the Roads of Crete – 5

(5 route, second article)

For a long time, we did not go for a ride on Crete roads with the company www.thenewrentcar.com. Let’s go? The road ahead is the route number 5: Heraklion – Knossos (Palace of Knossos) – Archanes – Fourni – Peza – Arkalohori – Kastelli.

In this issue we will tell only about part of the route from Pesa to Castelli. Read about the first part of the route in the newspaper No. 9, 2019 or on our website in the “Recreation ” section



“Songs of turtle-doves and the Sound of Rain” at Cretan Thematic Park

If the Minoan Knossos and Archanes inspired you, and you also saw, like the Cretans, the profile of sleeping Zeus in the shape of Juktas, you should consolidate your impressions in Cretan Thematic Park. Theatrical performance “Acquaintance with the Minoans” is regularly held in the above-mentioned modern complex.

Ancient herbs burner’s pots will give scents, and Minoan music will sound (you will hear also sounds of a seven-stringed lyre). Professor Stamatis Patelaros assures that in this music are songs of turtle-doves, sounds of sea, breath of wind and the sound of rain; and in the movements of dancing girls “you can guess the movements of the waves or the swaying of olive branches.” Minoans deified nature, and grape harvesting, for example, was a ritual for them. You will see all this on stage while tasting ancient Minoan dishes at the set tables… Immersion in another era is absolute. It’s not the presentation but in its atmosphere; and there will be goosebumps when the Cretan Minoans suddenly appear from the darkness of the hall with copper lamps in their hands under the alien music… It is unforgettable! We answer in full, as we experienced it.

Peza: γειά μας!

…To inhale the unique aroma of a wine cellar, where the smell of oak barrels is combined with win. Do you know this scent? Enjoyers of regular Crete holidays and Crеtaphiles say that drinking wine in a winery while overlooking the sun-drenched vineyards is one of the best activities in the world. Actually, it is worth going to Peza, one of the main wine-growing regions of Crete, for this joy of life. 20% of the Greek wine falls on the island of Crete, and 70% of the total Cretan wine is produced in the area of Peza (Heraklion Prefecture).

In Peza, there are three wineries with exhibition halls open for tourists: Fantaxsomethocho (Boutari winery), Minos wines (Milliarakis winery) and Peza Union winery. As a rule, all wineries offer an excursion program, wine tasting and opportunity to buy your favorite wine. By the way, admission to the Pesa Union is free, according to the Internet.

Arkalohori: in search for a labrys

Arkalohori is both a town and a famous cave of the Minoan times, where several thousand years ago the priests performed their sacraments. Peasants, who lived in more recent times, dug in search of some useful things in a shallow cave and found all kinds of metal objects that they practically used on their farms. At the beginning of the last century, the Greek archaeologist Joseph Hatzidakis began excavations here and gasped, discovering many weapons―swords and daggers, as well as a large number of votive labryses (double-bitted axes): the oldest symbols of Greek civilization. Curious children “helped” the scientist blow off the dust of centuries and once they found a golden labrys in the cave. Of course, crowds of people came to the sacred place…. Fortunately, in 1934, excavations were resumed, and the finds of peasants confiscated from them. Now these artifacts, of which there are some hundreds, they all are stored in the Heraklion Museum, including the gold and a silver labryses. Two of them have inscriptions in Linear A, and the bronze “labrys from Arkalohori” have hieroglyphs, similar to those on the Phaistos disk, which are still not solved. As for the town itself, we did not find any more information about it. If you go to Arkalohori, share your impressions―we will wait! Especially, if you find another golden labrys…

This too shall pass… A spring and prayers remain

So, following the roads of Crete route No. 5 from Heraklion, we got to its final point―Kanli Kastelli. Its name came from the fort towered on the twin peaks of Rhocca mount, and the village itself is located at the foot of it. The fort, which ruins attract tourists, was already built in 961, and you may read in the network, there was even a plan to move Kandia (that is, Heraklion) here―for greater safety of the latter. Nikephoros II Phokas himself, at the time being a Byzantine commander, had a hand in constructing the fort after liberating Crete from Arab pirates. Later, the Venetians strengthened Temenos (that was the name of the fort), and a settlement began to develop near it, giving rise to the modern village of Kanli Kastelli.

The ruins of the fort remember how Venetians were hiding behind its walls from the wrath of the rebelled Cretans and how the Venetian commander Gil d’Has liberated the fortress from the Turks, who had taken refuge there, and killed everyone―that’s why the fort Kanli Kastelli is called: that is, the “bloody fortress” (a Turkish-Italian mix). After a 21-year siege, when Turks captured Kandia, the Sultan presented the land around the fort to Andrea Barozzi, the traitor of Kandia.

The memory of wars has faded and the names vanished… Behind the dilapidated walls of the fort a spring with clear water murmurs, like centuries ago, and services are held in the local churches. Here they pray for the right and the guilty, for the hosts and guests, for eternal values―life, mountains, sea. Join now!

Composed by Svetlana Zaitseva.