- Region: Crete
- Prefecture : Heraklion
- Municipality : Archanes - Asterousia
- Populatiion: 3900
Archanes is so close to Heraklion in time and in distance, so much a pleasure too. You pass through Kato Archanes and climb a short distance to the main (Epano) Archanes village.
The large village (and a large agricultural centre as well) has little in the way of places to stay, but has been restored and beautified with European Union funds, as well as private initiative. A truly remarkable job has been done here, the place looks great but retains as much atmosphere and as many original features as possible, it is a model for such projects in our opinion.
The mayor of ten years, is one of the most active, to the visible benefit of the place, in creating and encouraging the establishment of museum, arts, special and cultural events - general civic quality, most refreshing. The village people are proud of their successful efforts to keep the village alive, clean, traditional and beautiful. They are also genuinely friendly.
Archanes has won awards - 2nd best restored village in Europe and 1st in long term development prospects. Streets have been newly stone-paved, there are more splendid displays of blooming flowers, fruit trees and plants in the yards, terraces and balconies of the houses - a walk around the back streets is a pleasure as a result.
How to get there
By car the route to take is past Knossos, a few kilometres further a sign-posted right turn to Archanes and in about 5 km you are there. Drive time: 25-35 minutes.
Buses leave Heraklion from bus station A at the harbour. There are buses at least every hour (on the hour), less though on Sundays.
In a booklet about the restoration of Archanes, the mayor lists his requests and solicits the civic pride of residents - his list includes the proper disposal of litter, parking of cars in proper places and several other specifics toward maintaining an aesthetic appeal and thus an appealing village to visit and to live in. We can only hope that others in Crete and Greece are inspired in the same vein.
Where to stay
Kalimera Archanes, three village houses, with warm charm, in the centre of Arhanes (Archanes). Near the small archaeological museum, with a walled garden, two-storey maisonette-style houses, with 1 or 3 bedrooms, living room with fireplace and well equipped kitchens.
Eliathos building complex is a unique destination of refined beauty, superbly located just 500m south of the historic village, outlooking the grand historical mountain of Youchtas and to the wide blue of the gulf of Heraklion.
What to see & do
There are four archaeological sites - one in the village (a fenced excavation) and three close by, at Anemospilia andFourni (on the edge of the village - a Minoan graveyard). Vathypetro on the way to Houdetsi is worthwhile not only for the finds, but also some of the most magnificent views of Crete which you can see from the site - a unique vantage point.
A lot of very significant finds of the Minoan era came from the broader Archanes area. Therefore Archanes has an excellent Archaeological Museum ( 8.30 - 14.30, Closed Tuesday, Free admission ) which displays all these finds from the town and the sites surrounding it. It is worth to visit it
Archanes with its superb nature is part of the E4 hiking path (it goes through Archanes). Using as a starting point the villages' central square and going west, you will meet the path, which leads to the summit of the mountain Yiouhtas.
The course is impressive, especially in the springtime. The summit, where lies the chapel of "Afentis Christos", offers a breathtaking view of the landscape, but also west to Psiloritis and east to Dikti mountains.The chapel of "Afentis Christos" celebrates on 6th of August and during these days there is a "Paniyiri" (festival) at the village.
Where to eat & drink
A small engaging, thoroughly informative archaeological museum, the outdoor club/cafe Istros, the characterful restaurant "Ambelos" (on the left as you enter Archanes opposite the church) all play a part of the mix.
At the restored square attractive cafes and tavernas with outdoor seating and tree-shaded terraces are a delight. We delighted over the lamb and salads we ate at "To Spitiko". Just at the edge of the square - on your right - is a fine Kafeneio, walk in and see the enormous waterfall poster and mirror (well, we liked it).
Further down this street on your left is a pastry shop where you feel drinking tea or coffee should be, simple acts as they are, most memorable! Do remember to taste the Archanes wines, produced from the vineyards you see all around the village. They are famous - for good reason.