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Municipal Unit of Fre

Agioi Pantes is located at an altitude of 150 meters, between the watersheds of the Kiliaris and Vrisiano rivers. According to Troulinos, there used to be a settlement on the site called Eptalofos, but this information has not been confirmed elsewhere. The village is also known as Babali, a name said to come from two Muslim brothers who founded the village. One of them was a father (baba) of many children, while the other named Ali built an inn (khani) on the site, where merchants and travelers to Chania, Rethimno, Sfakia or other villages in the province stayed. For this reason, the village is also referred to as “Babali Khani”. The village flourished for several years, but at the end of the 19th century it was abandoned and the inn collapsed a few years later.

The site was inhabited again in 1905, when Giannis Kourakis from Kiriakosellia, Stavros Nikiforakis from Melidoni and Andreas Pitsikoulakis from Tzitzifes settled there with their families. A little later, the monk Ioannis Papagiannakis from Fres, who undertook to restore a ruined Byzantine church of the 12th or 13th century, also settled there. For its restoration, he organized a fundraiser in the surrounding villages, making a promise to anyone who helped that he would name the church after them. Due to the great response of the inhabitants of Apokoronas, the monk finally decided to name it Agioi Pantes, so that everyone would be satisfied. In 1959 this name was officially given to the village, which had been known until then by the old name of Babali. On the initiative of the Ecclesiastical Council and the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, the church was restored to its original form a few years ago. Inside the church an icon of Panagia Glikofiloussa from the 15th century was found, which is considered one of the most important and oldest ones in Western Crete. The church seems to have also had frescoes, but unfortunately they have not been preserved.

Next to the church and near the road that connects the old to the new national road is the so-called “chrisolia”, a large olive tree that is several centuries old. According to tradition, under the roots of the tree there is a big treasure, a belief to which it owes its name.

The Charitable Foundation “Agia Sophia” has been located at the northwestern end of the village since 1991. The founder and president of the Foundation was the internationally renowned hierarch and Metropolitan of Kissamos and Selinos Irenaios Galanakis (1911-2013). Since its establishment, the foundation has been a pioneer in the cultural and developmental upgrading of Apokoronas and Crete in general, while since 1996 it has also demonstrated remarkable work in the field of social care, putting into operation the “Help at Home” program with the scientific support and cooperation of the Health Center of Vamos. The Provincial Press Institute, which aims to meet the additional education and training needs of journalists and media professionals with an emphasis on the regional press, is also housed there. Its facilities were renovated in 2009 and have since hosted dozens of educational seminars attended by professionals, trainees and professors from several Greek and foreign universities. Agioi Pantes belongs to the Municipal District of Paidochori of the Municipal Unit of Fres.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Melidoni is located at an altitude of 451 meters at the eastern end of the Municipal Unit of Fres, at the foot of the White Mountains. After the recapture of Crete by the Byzantines and the settlement of the twelve nobles in 1182, the master of the village and the wider area became someone with the surname Melidonis, which is still found in Crete today. The village was not mentioned in the Venetian censuses, but after 1740, the cattle breeders Giorgis Kokkinis and Sifis Vafis (or Kokkinis) from Imbros of Sfakia, began to come to this area. They wintered their sheep in Melidoni’s fields, where their children and grandchildren gradually built houses and created a settlement. The village was mentioned by its current name on a map by the French Philippe de Bonneval and Mathieu Dumas in 1783 and again in 1834 in the Egyptian census as Melidhóni, when it was inhabited by 20 Christian families.

Despite its small size, great men came from the village, such as the chieftain Iosif Kostantoulakis (Sifakas), who raised the flag of freedom in Melidoni on 16 June 1821, together with Giorgis Daskalakis (Tselepis) from Anopolis of Sfakia. His brother, Antonios Sifakas, was also an important personality, as well as Andreas Kakouris, chieftain and proxy of Apokoronas, who took part in the Therisos Movement in 1905. Several inhabitants of Melidoni, such as Manolis Kanelakis, volunteered to fight in the Macedonian Struggle (1903-1908) and the Asia Minor Campaign (1919-1922), while the village also played an important role during the Resistance (1941-1945), as it was the base of the National Organization of Crete.

The central church of the village is Zoodochos Pigi, which started being built in 1913 and was finished in 1937. At the south of the village is the church of Agios Antonios, which dates from the 16th century, as well as the chapel of Prophet Elias, which offers a view of the entire Apokoronas up to Rethimno. Melidoni is also known for its caves and caverns, inside which there are underground lakes and waterfalls. The most important of these, Gourgouthakas, which has a depth of 1,208 meters, is the deepest chasm in Greece and the 50th deepest in the world. Equally impressive are Liontari (1,110 meters) and Mavro Skiadi (342 meters). All three are located in the area of Atzines or Atzinolakkas, which attracts speleologists from all over the world.

Administratively, Melidoni was part of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900 and part of the community of Ramni from 1920 to 1925, when the distinct community of Melidoni was created. In 1997 this community became part of the Municipality of Fres, which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Nerochori is located at an altitude of 194 meters at the southern end of the Kiliaris valley, between the villages of Paidochori and Agioi Pantes (Babali). The village occupies a hill overlooking the valley of Kiliaris (to the north), the valley of Almiros and Vrisiano (to the east and south) and Paidochori (to the west). The name of the village is probably connected to the existence of springs in the area, which provide abundant irrigation water. Nerochori was not mentioned by its name in the Venetian censuses, but its location identified with the settlement of Pomogna Polani (Pomonia Polani or Bolani) mentioned by Barozzi in 1577, probably a fiefdom of the family of the same name. This settlement seems to have been abandoned in the middle of the 16th century, shortly after the conquest of western Crete by the Ottomans (1645-1646).

Around 1800, residents of the surrounding villages often saw a light at this location at night. When they got closer, they found that the light was coming from an icon of Agia Marina that was on that hill. Considering the event a miracle, they built a church on the spot where the icon was found, around which other houses gradually began to be built. During the revolution of 1821, Turkish soldiers invaded the village during Sunday service, but most of the inhabitants managed to escape and the Turks attacked the priest of Agios Antonios (a church located at the northern entrance of the village, next to the cemetery), who was hanged. The village was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834 as Nerokhóri, when it was inhabited together with Paidochori by 10 Christian and 5 Muslim families.

In the following decades, the village did not grow significantly, but it was the birthplace of important men, such as the Metropolitan of Kissamos and Selinos Irenaios Galanakis, known for his pastoral and social work in Greece and abroad. In his honor, the “Irenaia”, a commemorative event in which a large number of people participate, is held every year (when conditions permit). Another prominent personality of the village was Kostas Iliakis, known for his resistance action during the German occupation (1941-1945), whose relatives fought with the Democratic Army in the Civil War (1946-1949).

Administratively, Nerochori was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural municipality of Paidochori in 1920 and the community of Paidochori from 1929 onwards. In 1997 this community became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Fres, which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Paidochori is located at an altitude of 208 meters at the southern end of the Kiliaris valley, between two small gorges, Skotini (to the south, between Pemonia and Paidochori) and Macheri (to the north). The origin of the name of the village is not known, but it is probably related to the priest Paidis, priest of the church of Agios Georgios mentioned in the census of churches of 1637. The village was not mentioned by its current name in the censuses of the Venetian period, but its buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries testify that it was one of the five villages called Pemonia or Pomonia (Pomogna) and specifically the settlement of Pomogna Barbarigo mentioned by Basilicata in 1630. During the Venetian occupation a water mill was built on the easternmost tributary of Kiliaris (it stopped functioning in 1880) and the church of Agia Aikaterini, while additions were made to that of Panagia, which is said to have been built during the second Byzantine period.

The village continued to be inhabited after the conquest of western Crete by the Ottomans (1645-1646) and was mentioned for the first time by its current name in the Egyptian census of 1834 as Paidokhóri, at which time it was inhabited together with Nerochori by 10 Christian and 5 Muslim families. Paidochori actively participated in the Cretan revolutions and uprisings of the 19th century, during which several of its men stood out, such as Georgios Markou Panigirakis, son of the chieftain Glinomarkos, who participated in the Post-political Revolution of 1895-1896 and in 1912 volunteered to fight in Epirus. Other well-known personalities of the village are Vardis Maragoudakis, Ioannis Petroulakis (Nikiforogiannis), Nikolaos Mantonanakis and Konstantinos Chavredakis. Paidochori is also the birthplace of Georgios Iraklis Chavredakis, founder and publisher of the newspaper “Voice of Apokoronas”. The population of the village declined significantly in the 20th century, as many emigrated to the United States, Australia and Germany, but most of their descendants have maintained their connection to the village, which they visit every year, usually in the summer.

Administratively, Paidochori was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900, seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and part of the community of Pemonia from 1925 to 1929, when a distinct community of Paidochori was established, which included Nerochori. In 1997 the community of Paidochori became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Fres which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Pemonia is located at an altitude of 214 meters at the western end of the Almiros valley, approximately in the middle of the Municipal Unit of Fres. Its name comes from the Venetian word Pomogna, which means “fiefdom”. Traces of buildings have been found in Lakasas that testify that the area was inhabited during antiquity, but it developed significantly during the Venetian period, when there were, according to the censuses, at least five settlements with the name “Pomonia” (Pomogna). Today’s Pemonia is identified with the settlement of Pomogna Barozzi. The settlement was mentioned by this name by Barozzi in 1577 and by Basilicata in 1630, while it is estimated that the entry Pomonia de ma Zuana Barozzi by Castrofilaca in 1583 concerns the same village. The traces of the Barozzi family were lost after the occupation of Apokoronas by the Ottomans in 1646 (they probably left for Heraklion or Venice), as a result of which their name was removed from the name of the village.

In the following years, the government of the village was taken over by two agades named Pizzamano and Premarin, names that testify that they were rulers of Venetian origin who converted to Islam. They divided the village into two neighborhoods called “Mesa Chorio” and “Pera Chorio”, names that survive to this day. In addition to the rulers, several inhabitants of the village must also have converted to Islam, as there was a Muslim cemetery in it (in the Mertzalikia area, a corruption of the Turkish word mezarlık), while it is said that Haji Hussein, who was killed in 1866, came from the village. Pemonia is also known for important personalities among the Christians, such as the chieftain Emmanuel Smaragdis “Alivanistos”, who was killed in Tsikalaria on 12 July 1822, and the jurist Nikolaos K. Koutsourelakis, who served as colonel of military justice and contributed to the drafting of the first constitution of the Cretan State (1899).

Just outside the village, on the road to Fres, is the church of Agios Georgios, which was built in the 10th or 11th century and is celebrated on 3 November. The locals refer to it as the church of “Agios Georgios Methistis”, as during the period of its celebration the first wine tasting takes place. The central church of the village is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin and on its celebration, 15 August, the local cultural association organizes a big festival every year.

Administratively, Pemonia was part of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and the community of Pemonia after 1925, which included the villages of Babali (until 1926), Paidochori and Nerochori (until 1929). In 1997 Pemonia became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Fres which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Tzitzifes is located at an altitude of 255 meters at the foot of the White Mountains, at the southeastern end of the Municipal Unit of Fres. It consists of two neighborhoods separated by a gorge called Faragouli. At the bottom of the gorge is Vrisi, where there is a natural spring that runs water all year round, as well as two century-old plane trees, in the shade of which many important assemblies of chieftains took place during the 19th century. The village was probably named after the jujube tree (Ziziphus jujuba), which is native to Asia but thrives in the area.

It is not known when the village was founded, but the first written reference to it was made by the emperor Nikephoros Phokas, who recorded it as Ziziphea. The village kept this name during the Venetian occupation, as it was mentioned by Castrofilaca in 1583 as Ziziffea. In the Egyptian census of 1834 it was listed as Tzifés, probably because the English traveler Pashley thought the first “zi” of its name was an article. Hourmouzis mentioned the village as Tsintsife in the Cretan dialect in 1842, while Kritovoulidis mentioned it as Zizife in 1859.

Tzitzifes was often a refuge and gathering place for Christians, especially during the revolutions of 1821, 1866, 1878 and 1895-96. During these revolutions, several locals were distinguished for their bravery and action, such as Giorgis Papadakis or Xepapas, chieftain of 1821 and “caretaker” of the Economy of revolted Crete in 1822, who represented the island as a proxy in the Second National Assembly held in Astros, Kinouria (29 March – 18 April 1823), and was killed in Gramvousa a few months later. His son Ioannis Papadakis was distinguished as a professor of mathematics and astronomy, while he was director of the Observatory of Athens (1855-1858) and dean of the Philosophy School of the National University twice (1859-1860 and 1873-1874). Another prominent personality of the village is Anagnostis Michelioudakis, who fought in the revolution of 1866 and was president of the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Fres from 1906 to 1911.

Apart from the history of Tzitzifes, the churches of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, Agios Georgios, Agia Fotini and the Nativity of the Virgin, as well as the cave Marmarospilio(s) located at Kremastos, outside the village, are of particular interest. Tzitzifes is also known as one of the villages of  “riza”, from where the well-known song originates and where the artistic group “O Apokoronas” is based. It is also the only village in Crete where karambasi is still produced, an essential oil produced from the fruits of the bay tree (Laurus nobilis) that has healing and beautifying properties.
Administratively, the village was referred to as Tzitzifes of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900, seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community after 1925. In 1997 Tzitzifes became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Fres which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Fres is located at an altitude of 223 meters at the foot of the White Mountains, in a location overlooking a large part of Apokoronas. The name of the village is probably connected with the establishment of a school of “Friars” in 1550, i.e. monks who took their name from the French word frère, meaning “brother”. According to Theodoros Troullinos, the village had already existed during the Byzantine period and was called Feggi, while residents of Fones and Alikampos took refuge in it in 1571, when the Ottoman pirate Uluç Ali attacked their villages. The village was mentioned as Fre by Barozzi in 1577 and by Castrofilaca in 1583, although we know that it was also known as Pomogna Zuliani or Giuliani, i.e. “the fiefdom of the Giuliani family”.

According to oral tradition, the inhabitants of the Kotsovitsa neighborhood participated in the revolution of Daskalogiannis in 1770, which provoked the Ottomans, who killed every last one of them and burned their houses. Fres took an active part in the revolution of 1821, but in February 1824 Hasan Pasha invaded Apokoronas and captured 400 Christians near Fres, whom he sold as slaves. According to the Egyptian census of 1834, the village was inhabited by 80 Christian families and one Muslim, while it was also mentioned by Michael Hourmouzis in 1842 as Frai.

The village also participated in the revolt of 1841 (also known as that of Chairetis). It is also said that the first conflict of the revolution of 1866 took place here, when Nikolas Tzitzikalakis killed Hatzi Hussein agha of Pemonia, while the church of Evangelistria and the primary school of the village hosted the “Pancretan Revolutionary Assembly” that was formed on 1 January 1878. Fres also played an important role during the Post-political Revolution (1895-1896), as it hosted the Post-political Committee and assemblies on several occasions. The achievement of autonomy in 1898 did not cause complacency among the inhabitants of Fres, but encouraged many to continue fighting for the liberation of their compatriots in Macedonia and Epirus.

As a small tribute to those who fought and fell in these struggles, a monument with the inscription “Memory and Debt” was built in front of Panagia Evangelistria, which consists of a statue dedicated to the Unknown Cretan fighter and the busts of Konstantinos Digenakis, chieftain and writer, Stavros Kelaidis, chieftain and lawyer, and Konstantinos Lagoumitzakis, teacher and inspector of Secondary Education. These sculptures are framed by stone columns, where the names of those who fought in the Cretan revolutions, the Balkan Wars (1912-13) and the Second World War are written.

The majestic church of Panagia Evangelistria is the village’s hallmark, while it has been designated a preserved monument. It was built during the period 1789-1861 and took its current form in 1875. It is a typical example of newer ecclesiastical architecture, with a remarkable mural decoration designed by Stilianos Kartakis, a student of Fotis Kontoglou.

Another interesting church of the village is Panagia of the Two Rocks, which was built in the 13th century in a small gorge in the southwest of the village, while the church of Agios Georgios at Regousi, which is decorated with 14th-century frescoes, is of particular interest. Two other attractions of the village are the Manousaka mansion, which houses the Museum of Fres, and Giannoulakis gallery, which includes outstanding works by contemporary Greek painters.

Administratively, Fres was the seat of the Municipality of Fres in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community after 1925. In 1997 the Municipality of Fres was reconstituted and in 2010 it became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

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