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Municipal Unit of Asi Gonias

Asi Gonia is located in the southeast of the Municipality of Apokoronas at an altitude of 418 meters, on a slope of Mount Omanite, known to the locals as Asigoniotiki madara. Due to the inaccessible location of the village at the bottom of the Asigoniotiko gorge, the settlement was named Gonia, a name mentioned as Gognia by Barozzi in 1577 and Gognà by Castrofilca in 1583. After the conquest of the area by the Ottomans in 1646, the village was called Mesa or Eso Gonya (İçeri Gonya), but was later renamed Asi Gonia to reflect the rebellious character of its inhabitants (“asi” in Turkish means “rebel”).

True to its name, the village played an important role in the struggles of the Christians of Crete against the Ottomans. In August 1866 the Pan-Cretan Revolutionary Assembly met in Asi Gonia, while in February 1867 it became the seat of the “Provisional Government of Crete”. This revolution ended in December 1868, when the members of the provisional government issued a resolution entitled “Union or Death” in Chainospilio, a cave southwest of the village. About thirty years later, in October 1895, Asi Gonia became the seat of the Post-political Committee that managed, with the support of the locals, to repeatedly repel the gendarmerie and the Ottoman troops from the area. During those difficult times, the village offered not only its inaccessible environment, but also important personalities who were distinguished for their national action. The captains Nikolaos Petrakis (Petronikolas) and Markos Petrakis (Petromarkos) stood out for their actions against the Ottomans, while Pavlos Giparis, Stilianos Kokkinakis and Michalis Meladakis stood out for their participation in the struggles in Macedonia and Epirus.

During the German occupation (1941-1945), Vourvoure of Asi Gonia became the seat of the “Supreme Committee of the Struggle of Crete” under Colonel Andreas Papadakis, while Petros Papadopetrakis (Petrakas) and “the messenger of the Resistance” Giorgis Psichoudakis (Bertodoulos), who crossed huge distances carrying messages from the Allied Command in Egypt to the guerrilla groups and vice versa, were also distinguished for their services in the Resistance. In the center of the village there is a museum with important exhibits, such as photographs and documents from the Macedonian Struggle to the Resistance.

Asi Gonia is also known for the blessing of the sheep, an old custom observed every year on the celebration of Agios Georgios (23 April). On this day shepherds bring their sheep and goats to the church of Agios Georgios Galatas, just below the village square. There the animals are herded and milked one by one, and the herd is then blessed by the priest. Then cold or boiled milk is distributed to the attendees, while at the same time village girls dressed in traditional costumes offer Cretan rusks and cheese.

Administratively, Asi Gonia was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Mathes in 1881, part of the Municipality of Georgioupoli in 1900 and an independent community from 1915 until 1999, when it joined five other municipalities in 2010 to form the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

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