Secretariat-Protocol: 2825340300, info@apokoronas.gov.gr

Municipal Unit of Vamos

Vamos is the historical seat of the Municipality of Apokoronas, and according to the 2011 census, it has 706 inhabitants. The village is built on a slope at an altitude of 190 meters and is 25 kilometers far from Chania. According to oral tradition, Vamos was founded by Arab invaders from Andalusia who conquered Crete in the 8th century AD. The village was first mentioned on a map drawn up by Francesco Barozzi in 1577 as Vamu, a name confirmed by Castrofilaca (Venetian census) in 1583 and by Basilicata in 1630. The village was occupied by the Ottomans along with most of Apokoronas in 1646 and had since been part of the Eyalet-i Girid of Crete, with the exception of the decade 1830-1840, during which Crete was under the regent of Egypt, Muhammad Ali.

Due to its strategic location on the heights between the Kiliaris and Vrisiano valleys, Vamos was chosen in 1867 as the seat of the Prefecture of Sfakia (Sancak-i İsfakiye) by Ioannis Savvas Pasha, who also became its first prefect (mutasarrif). For this purpose, the locals were made to build several public buildings in the village, such as the Governor’s Office (Seragio), the barracks, warehouses, water tanks and schools, including the Girls’ School, which today functions as a municipal hostel.

Although several Ottoman authorities (political, judicial and military) were based in the village, the Christians of the province played an important role in all the Cretan revolutions. In 1893 a secret brotherhood was founded with the aim of taking up an armed struggle, which was called the “Post-political Committee” in 1895. It was headed by the judge Manousos Koundouros who drew up a detailed memorandum of the demands of the Committee. In the autumn of the same year, the Christian revolutionaries clashed with the Ottomans in several villages of Apokoronas and Sfakia, but the event that was of catalytic importance for the development and success of the revolution was the siege and fall of Vamos (4-18 May, 1896), which aroused the interest of the European Powers and pushed the Greek government to deal with the Cretan Question.

Vamos maintained its importance during the autonomy (1898-1913), but declined after the abolition of the Prefecture of Sfakia in 1915. The population of the village continued to decline during the 1950s and 1960s, as many young people sought employment elsewhere. In the 80s the village tried to recover and “update” its importance by hosting a series of cultural events, but even more important was the effort of a group of young people who returned to the village in the early 90s and tried to give it life by renovating old houses and pursuing the development of alternative forms of tourism, such as agritourism and ecotourism. At the end of the same decade, the Municipality of Vamos (which was first established in 1881) was reconstituted with the “Kapodistrias” Plan, although in 2010 it joined the other municipalities of the region based on the “Kallikratis” Program to form the Municipality of Apokoronas and it became its seat. As a legacy of its history, the village has a regional court, a health center and a bank (former Agricultural and now Piraeus Bank), as well as schools of all levels (nursery school, elementary, middle school and high school).

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Almirida is a seaside settlement at Souda Bay, from where one can see Akrotiri opposite the village and Karga islet to the west. The location is flat but surrounded to the east and west by steep slopes, which have historically prevented the development of the settlement. At the western edge of the settlement, on the road that connects it to Kalives, the ruins of a three-aisled early Christian basilica of the 6th century with excellent mosaic floors have been found and excavated by the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. Northwest of the church, on the hill of Finikia, the ruins of a Greco-Roman city have been preserved, while traces of human activity have also been found on the islet of Karga.

Due to its small size and population, the village was not mentioned in documents of the Venetian or Ottoman administration of Crete, but there must have been almost continuous – or at least seasonal – habitation by some families. In recent years, the area played an important role in the Post-political Revolution (1895-1896) and the liberation of Apokoronas and Crete in general, as the battles of Almirida took place here (30 June – 4 July, 1896). The reason was the attempt of a detachment from the Ottoman warship Kaplan to tow the boats of the locals to the port, where they would be confiscated due to suspicions that they were transporting war material to Akrotiri. The locals resisted the soldiers’ attempt, forcing them to retreat. Just the next day, an Ottoman army and fleet attacked Almirida with 3,500 men, starting a cycle of conflicts that lasted until 4 July 1896. These conflicts took place both on land and at sea, which is why the conflict is often referred to as a land-naval battle. Although the Christian defenders of the area were few, they forced the Ottomans to retreat not only from Almirida, but from the entire northern coast of Apokoronas (except Izzeddin), which resulted in the liberation of the largest part of the Prefecture of Sfakia two years before the rest of Crete was liberated (in 1898).

During the autonomy and after the union with Greece in 1913, Almirida remained a small settlement, most of whose inhabitants were engaged in fishing or olive cultivation. However, the tourism development that started after the 80s did not take long to affect Almirida, which developed within a few years into a popular resort for many Greek and foreign visitors. An important role in this was played by its beach, which is awarded every year with the “blue flag” which functions as a certification of the cleanliness of the sea and the existence of the necessary infrastructure for the safety and service of bathers. As a consequence of the tourism development, several hotels and restaurants were built and are operating in the settlement, while visitors can do several water sports, such as windsurfing, canoeing or diving. Administratively, Almirida belongs to the Municipal District of Plaka of the Municipal Unit of Vamos.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Gavalochori is located to the north of Apokoronas at an altitude of 100 meters, in a valley formed between the heights of Vamos (south of the village) and the heights of Kefalas (to the east). The village took its name from the Gavalas family, one of the twelve families that settled in Crete after its reconquest by the Arabs in the 10th century and were known as “archontopoula”. Although it has not been confirmed, the first reference to the village seems to have been made in a chrysobull of emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1182 for the distribution of the fiefs, where the name Gavalochori was mentioned. The village was mentioned as Gavaloghori Astiraca by Barozzi in 1577 and as Gavalochori Amighdali by Basilicata in 1630, while it seems to have maintained its importance and population during the Turkish occupation (1646-1898), without this meaning that it did not actively participate in the struggles for liberation from the Ottomans. During the revolution of 1821 Gavalochori became the seat of the “Cretan Council”, while after 1893 several locals were initiated into the brotherhood that developed into the Post-political Committee, among them Konstantinos Malinos, Charalambos Papadakis, Emmanuel Krasas and others.

Gavalochori is one of the most important traditional settlements of Apokoronas, as it preserves several interesting examples of folk architecture, such as a vaulted olive press of the 18th century, the churches of Panagia and Agios Sergios, the old school and many old houses from the era of the Venetian occupation. In Gavalochori is also the unique Folklore Museum, under the Ministry of Culture, which was founded in 1967 and opened in 1993. This museum houses outstanding examples of folk art, such as textiles, furniture, weapons and paintings, and is housed in a residence and olive press that has been designated as a historical monument. The village also has a Women’s Cooperative that is engaged in the traditional art of lace making (known as kopaneli) and agro-tourism. On the slope east of the village there are thirty stone water tanks from the Venetian period, known as Gavaliana wells.

Administratively, Gavalochori also includes the settlements of Agios Pavlos and Aspro (Koprana). Gavalochori was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community in 1928. In 1999 it became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos, and since 2010 it has been the homonymous Local Community of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Drapanos is located at the northeastern end of Apokoronas, at an altitude of 305 meters. The village stretches to the south of the trapezoidal massif called Drapanokefala and overlooks both the Gulf of Souda (northwest) and the Gulf of Almiros (east). The name of the village probably comes from the adjacent cape Drapano or Drepano, which was named so because its end resembles a sickle. According to another theory, Drapano was the name of the first settler of the village, a surname mentioned in the Ducal Archive of Khandaka (Archivio Ducale di Candia) in 1378. The village was not mentioned in documents and censuses of the Venetian period, but it was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834 as Drapanos, when it had 300 Christian and 25 Muslim families.

Realizing the strategic importance of Drapanokefala for the Gulf of Souda, after the Battle of Crete (May 1941) the Germans designed and had artillery facilities, fortifications and underground bunkers built in the area by the locals, while they installed a cable car that connected the entrance to their underground headquarters in Kokkino Chorio with the top of Drapanokefala, at an altitude of 527 meters. According to oral testimonies, in November 1944 the forces of the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) in Panagia Keramion (20 km away), as well as the bell of the church of Evangelistria in Fre (10 km away) were hit by the machine guns of the Germans. After the war many of these facilities were destroyed, either by the ravages of time or intentionally.

Today, Drapanos is known mainly for its old houses, its impressive view and taverns, while the European Sustainability Academy, which has been based in an ecological house since 2012, has attracted a large number of visitors and organizes events and ecological guided tours. From Drapanos a path leads through a small gorge to the chapel of Agios Ioannis and Gordeli beach, which is located north of Ombros Gialos. Administratively, Drapanos was listed as part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural Municipality of Kefalas in 1920 and the Community of Kefalas from 1928 to 1999, when the Municipality of Vamos was reconstituted. Since 2010, Drapanos has been part of the Local Community of Kefalas of the Vamos Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Kaina is built at an altitude of 226 meters at the western end of the heights of Vamos, on a slope facing south towards the Vrisiano valley. The name of the village probably comes from the ancient city of Kainos or Kaino that existed in the area, a name that evolved over time into Kaino and Kaina. The oldest written reference to the village is in a contract of 1301 as Gayna, which is stated to have been a fief of Leon Gavalas belonging to Psichro, as Apokoronas was then called. The village was mentioned as Caina by Barozzi in 1577 and by the same name by Basilicata in 1630.

The village used to be located 500 to 800 meters south of its current location, in an area that the locals call “old Kaina”. To the east of it (that is, southeast of the current settlement) is the Platanos neighbourhood, which used to be called Genitsari Metochi, after the name of the leader of the janissaries who had built a tower here. In 1812 forces of Hatzi Osman Pasha (also known as Pnigaris) along with Christians under Ioannis Moutsakis (or Moutsoyiannis) and Iosif Konstantoudakis (or Sifakas) besieged and destroyed the tower of Mehmet Genitsaris, although he himself managed to escape to the mountains. Platanos suffered extensive damage and Kaina was rebuilt on its current location in 1826, but there was fighting in and around the village again in August 1866 and early 1867.

Just outside the village there are several springs, such as that of Routsounas, where the Janissaries used to get water, and the one in Sopoto, where in October 1944 there was a conflict between Greek rebels and Italian soldiers. Outside the village there is also a church dedicated to Agios Antonios, with frescoes from the 14th century, while south of the “highway” is the church of Agios Fanourios, which attracts a large number of pilgrims on his celebration day (27 August), many of whom come on foot from Chania (27 km). Another point of interest is the cave Lithomeni Kopela at Kloumba, the name of which is said to come from a girl who had let her ox loose and tried to catch it, but could not. Getting angry after several attempts, the girl cursed. Then the ground sank and the girl fell and was trapped in it along with her ox, where she was petrified and remains to this day. Kaina is also known for the camel custom which takes place every year on Pure Monday. On this day, the locals make a camel effigy and take it around the village, while fasting foods and tsikoudia are offered to the visitors.

Administratively, the village was referred to as Kaina and Genitsari of the Municipality of Fre in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community in 1928. In 1999 Kaina was included in the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos, part of which it remained until 2010, when it became part of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Kalamitsi Alexandrou is located at an altitude of 139 meters to the south of the heights of Vamos. According to tradition, the village was named after a soldier who participated in Alexander the Great’s campaign in Asia and chose to settle here after it ended. However, it is not clear where exactly the name “Kalamitsi” came from. According to another theory, there were two soldiers, which is why two Kalamitsi were founded. In any case, the village was listed as Calamicia et Alexandrocori by Castrofilaca in 1583 and as Calamici Alissandro by Basilicata in 1630. In the Egyptian census of 1834 it was listed as Kalamitzi, although it is not clear whether it refers to Alexandrou, Amigdali or both. The two villages are mentioned again in Kritika written by Hourmouzis Byzantios in 1842 as Kalamitsi Pera (Alexandrou) and Kalamitsi Pode (Amigdali).

The village stretches south of the provincial road that connects Vamos to Georgioupoli and from far one can see the church of Agia Triada, a cruciform church with a dome, in the place of which there was a church from the time of the Venetian occupation. The church was completed at the beginning of the 20th century and its bell tower was built between the years 1958-1960. A little further south is the village square, in the center of which there is a well and a monument in honor of Ioannis Emmanouil Alifierakis who participated in several revolutions against the Ottomans. The village also preserves the old primary school and an impressive water tank built during the Turkish occupation and known as “Softas”. To the south of the village, in a location with an excellent view towards the valley of Vrisiano and the villages of Riza, is the cave church of Agios Antonios celebrated on 17 January. In the precinct of the church there is a terrace carved out of natural rock, on one end of which a beast’s head has been carved – according to others, a monster or a dragon- probably by a hermit who lived as an ascetic here.

Administratively, Kalamitsi Alexandrou was a part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community in 1928. In 1999 Kalamitsi Alexandrou became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos, part of which it remained until 2010, when it became part of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Although Karidi is not a village today, it was for most of its history, and for this reason – as well as the fact that it is the only monastery in Apokoronas – it deserves special mention. To be precise, during the Venetian period there were two villages in this area, Karidi of Agios Georgios (where the monastery of the same name is located today) and Karidi Kartsomado or Kartsomatado (which was located in the area around the church of Panagia in Katomeri). In 1577 Barozzi mentioned the two villages as Caridhi San Zorgi and Caridhi Charcomathadho, Castrofilaca as Caridi San Zorzi and Caridi Carcomatá in 1583 and Basilicata as Caridhi San Zorzi and Caridhi Charcomatado in 1630. The same sources state that in the first one of them there was a mansion of the Venetian lord Vizamano, which is preserved to this day.

After the conquest of the area by the Ottomans in 1646, several inhabitants of the village converted to Islam, which prompted its priest to grant the church of Agios Georgios to the Monastery of Agia Triada of Tzagaroli as a metochi in 1720 in order to prevent its conversion into a mosque. Since then, several monks from Agia Triada settled in Karidi, who contributed significantly to the protection and maintenance of the site, while in 1850 they began to build the current church of Agios Georgios, which was completed in 1870. At the same time, the monastery began to buy several of the surrounding estates and to be actively involved in the cultivation of olives, as a result of which a new, larger olive press was soon needed, which was completed in 1863 and is preserved to this day. Its roof was supported by twelve arches and inside there were four oil mills, of which only the built bases have survived, as the millstones have been removed.

In 1900 the metochi was abandoned by the monks and from 1905 part of its property began to be given to farmers of the area who exploited its estates until 1923, when the metochi was dissolved and most of its property was distributed by the Reserve Fund to those who had fought in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and in Asia Minor (1919-1922). The settlement was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1900 and 1920 and as part of the community of Vamos in 1928, when it had 31 inhabitants. Since then, the metochi had been abandoned for decades, until in 1996, on the initiative of the Holy Metropolis of Kydonia and Apokoronas, the Holy Monastery of Agios Georgios was re-established, where Father Dorotheos became the first monk. In 2016 he was succeeded by Father Ieremias, who was recently enthroned (1 October 2020) as abbot of the monastery, for the first time since 1854. In recent years, the monastery has undergone several maintenance and restoration works under the supervision of the Ephorate of Post-Byzantine Antiquities of Chania, while a quadripartite contract for the promotion of the rich cultural heritage of the monastery is to be signed by the Ministry of Culture, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Apokoronas and the Technical University of Crete.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Kefalas is located at an altitude of 352 meters in the middle of the hills of the same name, which extend from Drapanokefala to Georgioupoli. The name of the village is probably connected to lords who settled here during the second Byzantine period (10th-12th century) and were often called “kefalades”, while according to another theory, the name came from the size and importance of the village, which had always been the main village of the area. During the years of the Venetian rule, Apano and Kato Kefalas were two distinct villages, which were united residentially over time and administratively in the middle of the 20th century. Barozzi mentioned the two villages as Chiefala Cato and Chiefala Apáno in 1577, while Castrofilaca as Chieffalà Cato and Chieffalà in 1583.

In Kefalas it is worth visiting the traditional alleys and churches of the village, the oldest of which is the church of Holy Cross from the 16th century. Of particular interest are the newer churches, such as those of Panagia, Agios Antonios and Michael the Archangel, works of the famous craftsmen of Kefalas, which are examples of folk architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Kefalas Municipal School, which today houses the Environmental Education Center of Vamos, is also the work of the same craftsmen, and it plays an important role in the development of the Municipality of Apokoronas and the prefecture of Chania in general. Next to the Municipal School there is a small folklore museum, where old photographs, samples of textile art and items of daily life of past times are exhibited, while in front of the museum, in the central square of Kato Kefalas, there is a bust of Captain Mathios Milonoyiannis, who came from the village and participated in several mobilizations and revolutions of the Christians of Crete from 1858 to 1897.

Northeast of the village is Ombros Gialos beach, whose blue-green waters impress visitors. The steep slopes of the area are a magnet for speleologists and all kinds of explorers, while the clarity of the water and the Diving Park that will be built here in 2021 are expected to attract diving enthusiasts.

Administratively, Apano and Kato Kefalas were part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, an independent rural municipality of Kefalas in 1920 and the community of Kato Kefalas in 1928, to which Apano Kefalas also belonged. In 1925 the communities of Drapanos, Paleloni, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara were included in Kefalas, but eleven months later the last three seceded and formed the community of Sellia. In 1951 Apano and Kato Kefalas were separated again, but their separation was definitively canceled in 1961 and since then they have been one community, to which Drapanos and Paleloni continued to belong. Kefalas was again part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos from 1999 until 2010, when it became part of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Kokkino Chorio is located at an altitude of 152 meters at the northeastern end of Apokoronas, west of Drepano Cape, which separates the Gulf of Souda from the Gulf of Almiros. According to tradition, the village got its name from the red color of the soil in the area, while according to another theory, it is connected to the blood that was shed during the struggles of the locals against the Ottomans. The second theory is probably connected to a cave in the north of the village, where at the beginning of August 1821 dozens of women and children took refuge to protect themselves from an attack by the Ottoman army, but they were tracked down and killed until the last one.

Apart from its beautiful old houses, the village is known for the 33 cisterns at Kapare, which supplied the village with water in the past. Above Kokkino Chorio is Drapanokefala, a trapezoidal hill that was known as Calapodha during the Venetian rule. At the base of this massif is the church of Agios Georgios that was built in the 16th century and that the Germans turned into a warehouse of explosives during the occupation (1941-1945). Next to the church there is an impressive underground shelter, which the locals were forced to build and consists of a gallery and some rooms, which the Germans used as the administration offices of the southern part of the Souda fortress (Festung Suda). Realizing the strategic importance of the village, the Germans installed anti-aircraft weapons and built artillery around it to prevent attacks and secure its control.

Apart from its history, the village is of particular interest for its natural beauty. The rocky coasts to the north hide several small caves dug by the sea, while in two places they are interrupted by small beaches with blue-green waters, Vraskos and Koutalas. In the northeast of the village the road ends near the Drepano Cape lighthouse which was built by the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses in 1864. Near the lighthouse is also the underwater Cave of Elephants, where in 2000 fossilized bones of deer and elephants living in Crete 60,000 years ago were found. The cave is 160 meters long and is of particular palaeontological interest, but access to it is difficult because its entrance is 10 meters below the sea level.

Administratively, Kokkino Chorio was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Armeni in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community in 1928. In 1999 it became part of the Municipality of Vamos, part of which it remained until 2010, when it became part of the Municipality of Apokoronas.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Likotinara is located at an altitude of 290 meters south of Kefalas, at the eastern end of the heights of Vamos and southeast of the Roupakias forest. Due to its location and altitude, the village offers an excellent view of the Gulf of Almiros and on a clear day one can see the entire northern coastline of the prefecture of Rethimno to Kouloukonas (the so-called Talia Mountains of antiquity). The origin of the name “Likotinara ” is not known, but the village must have been founded during the Turkish occupation, as it was not mentioned in the censuses of the Venetian occupation. However, it was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834, according to which Drapanos, Kefalas, Xirosterni, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara were inhabited by 300 Christian and 25 Muslim families. Although the houses of the settlement are scattered, many of them are excellent examples of folk architecture, while some have been repaired and are kept in good condition.

Several palm trees have grown on the slope below the village, which have given the location the name Vagionia. The locals do not know how these tropical trees grew there, so it is most likely that their seeds were brought there by migratory birds, which pass through this area every year on their way to and from Africa. On the same rocky coast are the caves of Pavlis, in which it is said that the inhabitants of the area hid when there were conflicts during the Turkish occupation. One of them is called Fournaki because they cooked in or near it, while another one is called Chrisospilios, possibly because they kept something valuable or important in it. The entire area east of the village is known as “Gremna” and is a protected ecosystem that belongs to the Natura 2000 Network. Likotinara also includes the northern part of Kalivaki beach (east of Exopoli and north of Vlichada), where is the church of Agia Kiriaki and a German gun post built during the occupation to control the entrance to the port of Georgioupoli.

Administratively, Likotinara was part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural municipality of Sellia in 1920 and part of the Kato Kefalas community in 1925. A few months later, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara seceded from Kefalas and formed an independent community, which became a Municipal District of the Municipality of Vamos in 1997 and part of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Litsarda is located at an altitude of 282 meters in the southeast of Vamos, near a ridge that is formed between the heights of the same name and those of Kefalas. The village was first mentioned in a church census of 1637 as Lizzarda, meaning lizard. According to another theory, it comes from the name Litsardos, but there is no further evidence of its origin or meaning. The village was not mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834, but it was mentioned in the Ottoman one of 1881, when it had 218 inhabitants (214 Christians and 4 Muslims).

Although the houses of the settlement have undergone several changes due to the change of use and the passage of time, many of their older architectural features are preserved, while the church of Panagia is particularly noteworthy, which has an impressive wood-carved altarpiece and its icons were designed by Ioannis Aligizakis. On the initiative of the cultural associations of Litsarda and Xirosterni, in recent decades several houses of the village have been renovated, while the festival that takes place here on 14 and 15 August every year – except for 2020 – attracts crowds of people from the surrounding villages, even from Chania.

In the southwest of Litsarda, near the borders with Vamos and Agios Mattheos, is the church of Panagia Giatrissa and the “Kivotos” park, where several species of exotic animals are housed (including monkeys, ostriches and antelopes), while to the southeast of the village, on the road to Souri, is the cave “Daphne’s hole” which is of particular archaeological interest. To the east of Litsarda stretches the forest of Roupakias (or Arpakia), which occupies most of the slope between the villages of Xirosterni, Kefalas and Likotinara, where paths will soon be created to connect these villages, as was the case until the middle of the 20th century.

Administratively, Litsarda was part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, and part of the Xirosterni community from 1928 until 1997, when this community became a municipal district of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos which became part of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Douliana (or Ntouliana) is located at an altitude of 175 meters to the north of the heights of Vamos, between the villages of Tsivaras and Gavalochori. As for the origin of the name of the village, it is said to be related to the slaves’ cities (Doulopolis) of antiquity, but such old buildings have not been found in the area (or even their ruins). According to another source, in the area where the village is located today, a certain Doulis pasha had acquired lands, but in older maps the village was referred to as “Dul.” or “Duliana” and it is unknown when it was changed to its current name. However, it is estimated that the name of the village is not related to the Turkish word deli (meaning “crazy”, “bold”), but rather to the Slavic root dol’, meaning “down” or “valley”. This interpretation seems more likely, as the village is located between two valleys, while it is lower than Vamos, to which it is administratively subordinate.

Douliana is a small settlement with interesting folk architecture, which has been largely preserved thanks to the sensitivity and efforts of the locals, as well as foreigners who often come or have settled here. An important role in preserving the traditional character of the village has also been played by its active Cultural Association, which was founded in 1993 and maintains an impressive library in terms of volume and variety. Several parts of the village offer a view towards the plain to the east and Gavalochori, while others offer a view towards the sea and Akrotiri. One can enjoy more natural beauty by walking the old path that connects Douliana with Gavalochori, passing through a small gorge and the church of Agios Ioannis, which has been built inside a cave.

Administratively, the village was mentioned as Douliana of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural municipality of Vamos in 1920 and of the community of Gavalochori after 1925. In 1950 the village (which continued to be called Douliana) was detached from Gavalochori and annexed to the community of Vamos. In 1997 Douliana became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Xirosterni is a semi-mountainous village located at an altitude of 255 meters between Vamos and Kefalas. The name of the village comes from the words “dry” and “cistern”, which indicates that there were cisterns in the area which later dried up. According to oral tradition, the village also has a second name, “Viola”, which was adopted as part of its name by the Cultural Association of Xirosterni, founded in Athens in 1982.

It is not known exactly when the village was founded, but it was mentioned by Barozzi in 1577 as Xerosterni, by Castrofilaca in 1583 as Xerostergni and by Basilicata in 1630 as Xerosterni. The village was not mentioned in the Turkish censuses, but it was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834, according to which Drapanos, Kefalas, Xirosterni, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara were inhabited by 300 Christian and 25 Muslim families.

The village has many interesting examples of folk architecture, while two of its houses have been designated as preserved monuments. One of them belongs to the Papadakis family and dates back to 1790, while the other belongs to the Mastorakis family and includes a ground-floor olive press built at the beginning of the 19th century, above which a café was built a few decades later. Next to it there is another olive press of the 19th century that belongs to the Galanakis family. Of interest is also the village church, dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior, which has an impressive wood-carved altarpiece and is celebrated on 6 August. On the occasion of this celebration, a festival is held every year in the school yard, which has established itself as one of the most famous in Crete and Apokoronas.

At the southwest entrance of the village is a modest monument to perhaps the village’s most famous personality, the legendary lyre player Charilaos Piperakis, who was born in Xirosterni in 1895 and immigrated to the United States in 1911. There, he spread Cretan music to expatriate Greeks and foreigners alike. 

Administratively, the village was referred to as Xirosternion of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the Vamos community in 1925 and an independent community after 1928, which also included Litsarda. In 1997 Xirosterni became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Paleloni is located at an altitude of 324 meters in the middle of the heights of Kefalas, at the eastern end of the Municipal Unit of Vamos. The name of the village comes from the words “palio” and “aloni” and indicates that there were many threshing floors in the area, so many that it is said that each family had its own. The village used to be further east, on the top of the hills above Ombros Gialos (a location known as “froudia”), but because it was visible from the sea it was several times the target of pirates – mainly Saracens – so its inhabitants decided to move to its current location for safety reasons. The village was not mentioned in the censuses of the Venetian or Turkish occupation, but the age of some of its houses shows that there was a small settlement connected to the neighboring Kefalas.

The hallmark of Paleloni is the Lygenia wells, an impressive complex of Venetian wells and carved troughs located in the north of the village, east of the road to Drapanos. This complex consists of three large and three smaller stone wells, which were dug by the villagers in the past to deal with the lack of water in the area. The average depth of the wells is 6 to 7 meters, while it is certain that in the past there were more, which were closed by alluvium. There were also many stone troughs for watering the animals in the area, many of which were broken or stolen. The last ones were stolen in August 2019, but thanks to the immediate mobilization of the residents, they were returned and are back in their natural place.

The church of the village is Agios Charalambos, in the courtyard of which there is a monument to Archimandrite Chariton Pnevmatikakis (born Charalambos Botonakis) for his great missionary work in Kananga, Congo for 25 years (1973 -1998).

To the east of Paleloni is Ombros Gialos bay, whose blue-green waters impress visitors. The steep slopes of the area are a magnet for speleologists and all kinds of explorers, while the clarity of the water and the Diving Park that will start operating here in 2022 will be a major attraction for diving enthusiasts.

Administratively, Paleloni was part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural municipality of Kefalas in 1920 and the community of Kefalas after 1925. In 1997 Paleloni became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Plaka is located at an altitude of 72 meters approximately in the middle of the northern coast of Apokoronas, on a slope overlooking the beach of Almirida and a large part of the Gulf of Souda. The name of the village is probably related to the shale rock that abounds in the area, which seems to be the case for the other two settlements with the same name in Crete (Viannos and Merampelo). Plaka was not mentioned in the Venetian censuses, but it was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834, according to which it was inhabited by 20 Christian families.

The village kept its architecture unchanged until the end of the 20th century, but the intense building activity and the massive settlement of foreigners led to the alteration of its traditional physiognomy, giving it a multicultural character. At the same time, the location of Plaka continued to be privileged, as it offers water sports, diving, fishing, hiking and other activities related to both the sea and the beautiful inland of Apokoronas.

The main church of the village is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin and celebrated on 25 March. In the central square of Plaka, on the left of the road to Kokkino Chorio, there is a monument to those who fell in the national struggles, while on the right side there is a modest monument in honor of Michalis Papadakis or Plakianos (1903-1978), a talented lyre player, singer and composer who contributed significantly to the evolution of Cretan music and was a source of inspiration for the following generations. In his memory, musical events called “Plakiana” are held every year at the end of July, while the musical career and legacy of his niece, Aspasia Papadaki, who played the mandolin, lyre and violin, is also noteworthy.

The coast to the north of Plaka is steep and rocky, often interrupted by small caves dug by the sea, while to the southeast of the village at an altitude of 156 meters is Kampia, a small settlement first mentioned by Hourmouzis Byzantios in 1842 and its name is said to be a corruption of the word “kampos” (plain).

Administratively, Plaka was mentioned as part of the Municipality of Armeni in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and an independent community in 1925, which also included Almirida, Kampia and Kokkino Chorio. A year later, Kokkino Chorio was separated from the community of Plaka, but the islet of Karga was annexed to it. In 1997 Plaka became part of the reconstituted Municipality of Vamos which became a Municipal Unit of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Sellia is located at an altitude of 328 meters south of Kefalas, near the eastern edge of the heights of Vamos and south of the Roupakias (or Arpakia) forest. The name of the village probably comes from its location near a mountain pass, which in the Cretan dialect is called “seli”. The village was not mentioned in the censuses of the Venetian period, so it is estimated to have been founded during the Turkish period. The first time it was mentioned was in the Egyptian census of 1834 as Selià, according to which Drapanos, Kefalas, Xirosterni, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara were inhabited by 300 Christian and 25 Muslim families.

Although the houses of the settlement are scattered, many of them are excellent examples of folk architecture, while some have been repaired and are kept in good condition. The village church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit and was built at the beginning of the 19th century, while further south the road leads to the Ganade hill, which offers a panoramic view of the valley of Vrisiano and Almiros to the south and to Drapanokefala to the north. On a second hill to the east of the village there is a small church dedicated to Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, outlooking not only to the north, but also to Gremna of Likotinara and the Gulf of Almiros to the east.

The famous lyre player Georgios Kanteris or Kanterakis (1877-1963), also known as Kanterogiorgis and Karabourniotis, came from Sellia. He participated in the revolutions of the years 1895-1897, during which he was wounded, while it is said that during the breaks of the battles he played the lyre, cheering up his comrades. During the autonomy he worked professionally as a musician and immigrated to the United States in 1908, from where he returned for a year in 1910 and for good in 1933. Another famous personality that came from the village was Nikolas Papadakis or Daskalonikolas (1870-1944), who fought against the Ottomans in Crete and Epirus.

Administratively, Sellia was part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, the seat of the homonymous rural municipality in 1920 and part of the Kefalas community in 1925. In December of the same year, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara seceded from Kefalas and formed an autonomous community, which became a Municipal District of the Municipality of Vamos in 1997 and a Local Community of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

Souri is located at an altitude of 313 meters on the eastern side of the heights of Vamos, south of Kefalas and the Roupakias forest. The origin of the name of the village is not known. The village was not mentioned in the Venetian censuses, but it was mentioned in a document of the Ducal Archives of Khandaka (Archivio Ducale di Candia) of 1395 as Suori, a reference which many researchers consider to be an incorrect transcription of Souri. The village was mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834 as Vuri, while Hourmouzis Byzantios referred to it in 1842 as Suri.

The village extends mainly to the north of the road that connects Litsarda with Sellia, while several houses overlook Kefalas, Drapanokefala and Souda Bay. To the south of the same road, near the entrance to the village, is the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos, which was built in 1910. In order to build this church, the previous one built in 1550 was demolished, but the inhabitants saved the original foundational inscription and walled it up in a storage room built next to the church. 

From Souri came Hierarch Agathangelos Xirouchakis (1872-1958) who served as vicar of the Greek Community of Vienna and bishop of Kydonia and Apokoronas from 1936 to 1958. He is known for his pastoral activity and his philological and historical works on the Venetian rule in Crete, but his attitude during the German occupation (1941-1945) is controversial. Souri is also known as the workshop and last residence of John Leith Craxton (1922-2009), a famous British painter and honorary consul of the United Kingdom in Crete.

Administratively, Souri was part of the Municipality of Vamos in 1881 and 1900, part of the rural municipality of Kefalas in 1920 and part of the community of Kefalas in 1925. In December of the same year, Souri, Sellia and Likotinara seceded from Kefalas and formed an autonomous community, which became a Municipal District of the Municipality of Vamos in 1997 and a Local Community of the Municipality of Apokoronas in 2010.

Editing & editing of texts: Giorgos Limantzakis

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