CreteTravel.com

  • Region : Crete
  • Prefecture: Rethimno
  • Municipality: Anogion
  • Population: 2500

Now we're getting into Crete's mountains, 740 metres up on the north face of Mount Psiloritis to be precise.

It's a short hop from here to the stunning Nida Plateau, the Ideon Cave (mythology: Zeus grew up here), the observatory at the top of the Skinaka as well as the ancient settlement of Zominthos. Birthplace of the famous Greek singers Nikos Xylouris and Psarantonis.

Anogia has a history that is powerful and tragic - burned by the Turks, then by the Germans who during the war, as reprisal for kidnapping a German general called Krieppe, rounded up and shot all the men they could find in the village.

Stockbreeding is the source of wealth in this area. The village has two aspects. Old Anogia is the lower part, reached after you pass the inviting square filled with Kafeneia on the right hand side (as you approach from Heraklion) and continue as the road curves left and downhill.

The air is mountain-fresh, the local Raki and food genuinely good and usually made with local ingredients. If lamb is to your liking, the savoury aroma of it cooking at the tavernas in the lower part of the village, is tempting indeed. The square of Agios Georgios is a splendid exhibition of local life and a good place to stop for coffee, buy local cheese and visit the small church of the same name.

Traditional Cretan music can be enjoyed at the village in the concerts which are held in the open theatre during summer, as well as in festivals the two first weeks of August. Moreover, the cultural club of Anogia organises cultural nights and attracts visitors not only from Crete but from other parts of Greece. Don't miss Yakinthia, the very famous artistic events, which take place every year in July at the same great place called Fourni.

How to get there

From Heraklion - the easiest and swiftest route - the drive is wonderful, winding mountain roads, passing through some interesting villages including Tilissos, giving you the chance to have an archaeologist's feast in seeing the site there and similar at Sklavokambos (look out for the Minoan villa on the left at Sklavokambos). Allow an hour or just over for the drive, more of course if you stop to admire the sights or enjoy the sites on the way!

Head out of Heraklion on the New National road towards Rethymno and Chania, and take the turn to the Old national road and "Gazi" and "Anogia" (alternatively take 62 Martyrs out of Heraklion and carry on following the road, this will take you through Gazi on the Old National Road), after about 4 km you will see Anogia signposted left. It is then, to be astonishingly accurate, 22.8 Kilometres of winding, scenic road - best taken at a relaxed pace - to the beginning of Anogia.

At this point a left turn will take you to the Nida Plateau, ski area and the Ideon Cave. The observatory for which you turn left before the plateau, is normally open one day a month, however it is not until you reach the left turn for the observatory that these dates are posted. There are regular buses to Anogia from Heraklion from bus station B at Hanioporta. There are also buses to Anogia from Rethymno.

Where to stay

Just 1km away from Anogia Village on the way towards Nida Plateau there is a luxurious hotel with the authenticity of Cretan tradition and the wild natural beauty of the island Delina Mountain Resort. This is a very nice mountain resort adjacent to a huge restaurant for large events and Cretan music ... and with wonderful authentic greek food.

Please see our links to local hotels at the bottom of this page as well.

What to see & do

Recommended: enjoy a Greek coffee at the square in the upper village (Agios Georgios Square), the atmosphere here is wonderful - hospitality and welcomes are surprising in their warmth. Excellent local cheese and Raki are available to buy, at the shop on one corner of the square.

You are more likely to see men wearing the Cretan baggy trousers tucked into their boots, heads decorated with nets, here than just about anywhere else. This is miles from "designer name" mecca. The small church of Agios Georgios is worth a visit if it is open. On the main road, a little before the square, visit the Folk Art museum.

Wander the streets from the top to the bottom of the village, see the woven tablecloths and linens (with much salesmanship from the old ladies). In the lower part, where the Plateia Syntagmatos Kafeneio is and the statue of Vasilis Skoulas, the tavernas to the right with succulent lamb and other foods cooking outside in open barbecue-ovens.

Follow the sign behind the statue to see the original wood carvings and paintings of Alkiviadis Skoulas ("Grillios"), his son who is reasonably senior himself will show you the gallery (if he is not there - ask at the Kafeneio and they'll summon him to show it to you) at the Museum Grillios.

Original wood carvings with much use of the natural shape of branches, and an appealing naive painting style in pictures of Eleftherios Venizelos and more. Have a look at Nikos Xylouris's house right on this square - Anogia is also famous for it's musical tradition.

Venture from here to the awe-inspiring and enormous plateau, the Nida Plateau and visit the Ideon Cave. The journey is truly scenic and takes you through sparkling rock and mountainscapes. There is a taverna at the plateau - what you really want to do is just walk, wander and take in this "out of Africa-like" panorama. (In winter skiing would be a possibility on the way up to the plateau - there is a ski "area", but it has not been operating for years).

This is a splendid place for walking, hiking, caving and energetic cycling - a good base too [E4 hiking path goes through Anogia]. The archaeological sites within easy reach abound, Tilissos, Sklavokambos and Anogia's own treasures (of course many finds are stored or displayed at the Archaeological museum in Heraklion). At Zoniana, a nearby village, you can check out the new wax museum.

Where to eat & drink

There are some places where it is hard to choose one eating location over another - so far we cannot say we've decided on our favourites. Let appetite, the aromas of cooking and the feeling of the moment be your guide - you are unlikely to be disappointed. Food is important, a big feature of life, everywhere in Greece and much so here in Crete. In Anogia food is good. Again, let us know your favourites and tell us what you liked so we can pass the information on to other visitors...

Special comments

To appreciate Anogia, give it some time, walk, stop for coffee or drink, eat and allow any kindness or generosity that might be offered you, to quench the thirst for offering hospitality that is a hallmark of Crete and has its source it often seems, in Anogia.

If you can make the time, we would suggest at least an overnight stay to enjoy the "events" of different times of day and to give ample chance to visit the extraordinary special places nearby. This is also an appealing place - it feels good to just well, be here for a while - we think you'll easily see what we mean when you get to the mountains of Psiloritis.