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|The village, the churches and the beaches of Tris Ekklisies on the island of Crete|
This cute village which is surrounded by a number of beautiful beaches was until recently (mid 2017) only accessible via a difficult, fairly dangerous dirt road. You will find peace, (still) a bit of a "hippie atmosphere" and it is very relaxed with very friendly residents. Now that the road to the village has been completely paved it has become more attractive for visitors and some construction activities are starting to take place. So be quick! Tris Ekklisies is about an hour and a half drive away from the capital Heraklion and it is surrounded by high mountains. In these mountains the largest colony of vultures in southern Europe, including the large and very rare bearded vulture, settles.
You can drive south in different ways in order to reach Tris Ekklisies. The road via Agia Varvara and Agii Deka and then further to the east and then again to the south is the most obvious one, but I think that is not the shortest route. It doesn't really matter that much how you get there. The last part you go via Aloni or Pretoria (good straight road) to Charakas and you follow the signs to Tris Ekklisies.
In Charakas, the last village of some substance before you continue to Tris Ekklises, there is a fortress on a mountain with a Byzantine church, and on the other side you can see the big church of the village. If you keep the large church on the left and you drive on, and then go left around the corner, you will immediately see the road to Tris Ekklisies. You have to go to the right again at the kafenion. The villagers wrote "Tris Ekklisies" with an arrow on the wall. Along the way you have to pay attention because you will pass two other villages, Amagdali and Paranimfi, and especially at the last village you can suddenly take a wrong turn if you miss the sign just before the village on the left hand side of the road.
The first part of the road through the village of Charakas is still quite narrow but soon the road becomes wider and it stays pretty good. You also have to pass a bit through Paranimfi where the road will become more narrow again. On the route you will encounter some nice (new) churches. The last part to Tris Ekklisies is the great descent over a zigzag road and that is quite steep on some parts. The road is good and completely asphalted, and a apart from a few small parts it is quite wide. On a few short pieces you have to pay attention to whether there is any traffic coming from the other side. Those who drive up have priority here. People with very large fear of heights like me just look the other way. Also pay attention to stones that may have been loosened by rain or wind. You are not supposed to drive faster than 20 or 30 kilometers here.
At the end of the road you arrive at the village of Tris Ekklisies. In the village itself the road becomes much narrower again. You can not just park your car anywhere, but if you keep driving down to the beach then you automatically get to the parking where you can put your car. There are two tavernas directly on the beach and a supermarket which is open in high season. If you visit the village outside the high season you have to buy some stock in advance. The last place where you can do that is in Charakas.
|The three Byzantine churches of Tris Ekklissies on the island of Crete|
Tris Ekklisies (= Three Churches) is named after the three Byzantine churches in the village. They probably date from the 14th century. The first church you are likely to see is the one next to the parking lot near the beach. It is the Sacred Church of the Annunciation. The church stands on the site of an older basilica of which only some remnants of the outer walls remain. It is assumed that on the site of Tris Ekklisies in ancient times there was an important settlement. A sign in front of the church tells you that at this place during the Second World War many English, Australian and New Zealand soldiers escaped to the Middle East with the help of the Cretan resistance via submarines and in other ways. The current church has been restored and is fairly simple. This is the church used by the villagers for the Sunday Mass and it is also the only church in the village that was closed.
The other two churches are slightly more difficult to find, but not untraceable. The Temple Master Jesus church or church or Afentis Christ is situated at the entrance of the village on the right hand side, but I think it is just out of sight when you drive into the village. This church also appears to be on the site of an older basilica. There are still some traces of this on the back of the church. The walls of this church are once painted white so that the frescoes are covered. On some parts the frescoes have appeared again. It is the intention that the church is one day restored in order to see the frescoes in its entirety, but I do not see that happening so quickly.
The church of St. George stands just behind some houses on the beach. In front of this church with its red painted roof are two marble columns that date from Roman times when there was a harbor here. There are some remains of frescoes inside the church. It is not entirely clear to me what happened to the church, but I understand that it was once set on fire and that the inhabitants have hacked on the frescos with iron objects. On some small parts of the walls the frescoes can still be seen. There are also some nice icons of St. George inside the church.
|The beaches of Tris Ekklissies on the island of Crete|
There is a nice beach in the village of Tris Ekklissies itself. Besides the two tavernas there are no facilities (just like on the other beaches around the village), so you can not rent sunbeds or umbrellas. There are some trees where you can find a bit of shade. The village beach is a mixture of sand and some small pebbles.
On the east side of the village, just a few minutes walk away you will find the beautiful, picturesque and large Kolovrechtis beach. This is also a sandy beach with some very small pebbles. Many trees can not be found here. It is also a place that naturists use, just like on many of the other beaches around the village. There are no houses at Kolovrechtis beach. You could also go to Kolovrechtis beach by just walking around the rock that separates it from the village beach. A little further on the beach there is a beautiful rock and the path down leading to the beach itself. Some of the pictures above from Kolovrechtis beach on my page were taken on a day that it was storming, but the beach is normally quite wide.
A little further away is the smaller Kyria Vlychada beach. You have to walk down the path to get here. Here too there is little shelter from the sun. The access to the sea is quite steep and with relatively large pebbles, so if there are some waves, it is not so easy to go into the sea. Anyone walking even further down the path will reach the small Voidomatis Beach and another small beach.
If you walk in a westerly direction and you cross the hill you will reach a few other beaches. The first beach is called Pachia Ammos beach. Pachia Ammos means "thick sand". Pachia Ammos is a large beach with a number of trees on it. It is separated by a river from the next, much smaller beach of Ornius, which is a pebble beach. Because it had just rained the night before we went here, mud had flowed from the river into the sea, making the water look so brown on my pictures. The path continues to two smaller beaches first and then to the large Sweet Kolymbus beach (which I think can not be reached on foot, but we have not gone that far).
|South Sea Touched home in Tris Ekklissies on the island of Crete|
And there we were, already in such a nice village with so many beautiful beaches and super friendly people and then you come to such a beautiful place. I should keep it a secret ... We spent a few days in this fantastic house that we rented from two adorable people: Voula and Nikos. Nikos picked us up in the village of Charakas and drove the last part to Tris Ekklisies in front of us to his house in the village, where we parked the car to unload and then we put it in the parking lot down at the beach (two walking minutes).
The hospitality of Voula and Nikos was really overwhelming. I have not often experienced something like that (after 45 years of travelling to Greece). They were also so modest and sweet. Everything was ready in the house and the fridge was filled with water, home made iced tea, wine, raki, butter, eggs, fruit juice, milk and jam, and there was coffee, tea, bread, fruit, tomatoes and cucumbers and everything and some more. I do not think they do this for everyone but in the oven there was even a delicious "gemista", stuffed tomatoes and peppers.
And the house itself was in one word fantastic. Two good bedrooms, two beautiful bathrooms (also with washing machine), a large living room / dining room / kitchen with all the amenities you can think of. In the bathrooms there was shampoo, shower foam and hand soap, there was sunscreen and after sun .... well, what was not there? Furthermore the terrace was just great with a beautiful view over the village and the sea, and at the back a view of the high mountain that surrounds Tris Ekklisies. Here you could see the birds of prey flying.
Check availabilities and prices & book South Sea Touched Home in Tres Ekklisies - click here.
|Marinela Café Snack Bar in Tris Ekklissies on the island of Crete|
Marinela Café Snack Bar is one of the two taverns in the village of Tris Ekklisies. Both taverns are located on the beach and directly next to each other. The other taverna is called Café Vagelis, but you can also eat something there. We only ate a few times at Marinela. It is on a corner and the chairs are under tamarisk trees, so you can sit in the shade. I have eaten the tastiest sardines ever and also the dorade fish we ordered there was very good. The fries are also very tasty and crunchy. The lamb chops were a little disappointing compared to the fish. The wine was also very good. Marinela is very friendly and a fantastic cook.
Our verdict: a 10 for the fish, an 11 for the sardines and a 7 for the lamb chops, on average a good 9.