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The Apokoronas in Crete
The district of Apokoronas is situated in the the north-eastern part of the Chania prefecture and at the foot of the White Mountains. It is one of the greenest regions of Crete, with forrest and olive groves.
There are mostly small and old villages in the area, and some more developped villages like Kalives, Geourgioupolis and Armyrida that attract a bit of tourism because there are nice beaches. The village of Plaka just above Almyrida seemed to be te center for new development when I visited in 2007 and plenty of villa's and apartments have been build there for the sale. The rest of the district seemed to have kept their Greek identity, especially in the mountain villages, where it feels like time has stood still. The older people are sitting outside their houses because any passer by is still worth seeing and saying hello to, and the men gather in the taverna's on the village squares to chat, have a Greek coffee or play a game. Here the pase is slow and life is relaxed. On the fields and gardens of the houses there are chickens and sometimes goats or sheep. Nobody is in a hurry.
Stay here for a day or two and you will automatically chill and take over the lifestyle of the inhabitants.
A bit more about the Apokoronas
Vamos is the capital of the Apokoronas and here as well as in the other villages in the district the old houses are being restored to their former splendor. The local authorities seem to be keen on saving a large part of the traditional lifestyle. Tourists in the area seem to be mostly from the United Kingdom, but than the ones with a bit of style, and not the noisy crowd. Most of the people are coming here not to party but to relax and have a good time: elderly people, people on a pension that retired, and families with small children that come to enjoy the beaches and the nature. Around some of the corners you will find a small natural treasure like for instance Ombros Gialos, where there is a nice taverna, a place to go into the sea, and some very lovely views over the coastline.
Attractions in the Apokoronas
Besides the beaches and the easy going lifestyle and peace and quiet in the villages there are a couple of interesting sights in the Apokoronas, like Lake Kournas, the only sweetwater lake on the island, with special wildlife (large golden colored fish, turtles etcetera), and the extensive remains of the old town of Apteras (one of the largest city states between the 7th century B.C. untill the 7th century A.D. when it was destroyed in an earthquake. The site is still largely unescavated but there is plenty to see, including the impressive city walls and several temples and other buildings. In the Apokoronas there are also several fortresses.
The village of Vamos
Vamos is the capital of the district and one of the larger villages in the Apokoronas area. There are mini markets, tavernas and all kinds of local shops.
There is a large church in the village and plenty of pretty and old treese.
In 1995 a group of villagers started a
project to preserve the traditional way of life of Vamos. With funds from the
European Union, they started a project to showcase the crafts and products of
the region and restored old stone buildings using traditional materials and
crafts and turned them into guest houses. Vamos is a very important village of the Apokoronas as it was the capital of
the region. The village is 30km away from Chania. In the village you can find
many taverns and shops.
The monastery of Agios Georgios can be found in Karydi, between Vamos and Vrysses, in the Apokoronas area. It was abandoned in 1905 and nowadays it's being restored. In 1996 it was reopened. The monastery was first mentioned in documents from 1600AD as a small settlement in Karydi and it was destroyed in the Turkish war.
The village of Gavalochori
The picturesque village of Gavalochori in the Apokoronas is situated in between Vamos and Almirida. Here you find a folklore museum, roman wells and several tavernas, kafenions and a bakery. The sea side resort of Almirida with its beaches is at a 6 kilometers distance to the north. Gavalochori is a charming authentic old village worth to take a look at.