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|The village of Kritsa on Crete|
The village of Kritsa is 8 kilometer south west of Agios Nikolaos, to which it has a regular connection by bus. It is a traditional mountain village with lots of narrow streets and several Byzantine churches. There are mini-markets, souvenir shops and taverns, and there is a bakery, a post office and an ATM machine in Kritsa. The village is quite large and has approximately 2700 inhabitants. If you are going to look further than just the main street with all the shops you will see cute narrow streets with photogenic old dilapidated cottages. In Kritsa there are also many houses for sale, some have been renovated, but also quite a few are ruins. You note that there are quite a bit of old women when you look around.
It is wise to park your car at one of the designated parking areas on the outskirts of the village and then walk through the village. Many of the streets in the village are narrow and not suitable for cars. At the beginning of the large "shopping street" of Kritsa you'll see the first church which is called the "Panagia Odigitria", which according to the inscription above the door dates from 1852, but of which the construction in reality was not complete until around 1870. If the church is open, it is worthwhile to take a look inside because there are beautiful old icons.
When walking through the village you come across even more ancient churches, such as the picturesque Afentis Christos church from the 13th century (easily overlooked in a side street next to the Panagia Odigitria church), the St John Crysostom from 1570 (near the large white St. George church which dominates the village) and to the west of the village at the cemetery is the St John the Baptist church from 1370, which have frescoes inside.
From its position on the Kastella hill Kritsa looks out over the Bay of Mirabello. For tourism the village heavily depends on the nearby 13th century Byzantine church of Panagia Kera. Most of the villagers still live from agricultural and garden products, but the rest of them has either opened a restaurant, or a lot of them have started weaving carpets, rugs, table cloths and clothing, which are hanging outside on the streets. The owners of the shops are usually old ladies that will try to stop you in the street as you walk by because they want you to have a look at their merchandise and hope to sell you some of it.
During the day time the village of Kritsa is overflown by a lot of tourists that want to taste the atmosphere of this Cretan village and want to take a look at the many souvenir shops. There are narrow streets with cobbles, old churches and beautiful views over the sea. There is also a wide choice of restaurants and kafenions in the village. Kritsa is actually quite pleasant. At the entrance of the village is the magnificent Byzantine church Panagia Kera, with its unique wall paintings (open 9.00 - 15.00, no free entree, forbidden to take pictures). Another attraction of Kritsa are the remains of the antique town of Lato, which is situated 4 kilometers north of the village.
|The Panagia Kera church in Kritsa|
One kilometer before the village of Kritsa, in the site named "Logari" is the old Byzantine church of "Panagia Kera", with unique in technique and importance Byzantine frescoes (14th and 15th century). The central aisle, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, contains the oldest paintings which reflect a mixture of styles. The south aisle has the best-preserved paintings. In contrast to the more stylized paintings of the period, these paintings display a tenderness and humanity in their rendering of the story of Anna, the Virgin Mary's mother. The north aisle is dedicated to St. Anthony and has pictures representing the Second Coming.
There was a 3 euro entrance fee to get into the church and you are not allowed to take any pictures. I suggest you take a look at the outside, peak in an than move on to other equal beautiful churches, like the one in Pirgos, if you want to take a look at equally nice frescoes for free. Also in the south west of Crete above Sougia and Paleochora there are countless Byzantine churches with their doors open, where you can walk in with your camera and make pictures if you want to.
|Agadiko Taverna - Kritsa|
The Agadiko Taverna is situated a bit on the end of the main shopping Kritsa on the right hand side. It is a family restaurant that is run by the friendly Marina. Her sister has a shop opposite the taverna where beautiful art is sold (mainly glass and ceramics). The food is great and a little more attention has been paid to it than the average taverna. My moussaka is sprinkled with cheese and it it is very tasty. There are also delicious crispy fries to go with it. Also the fish we ordered is fantastic. The house wine is very good as well. Moreover the taverna is also very cheap, highly recommended.
Our verdict: fantastic, a 9 out of 10
|Platanos Restaurant Cafe - Kritsa|
This taverna is located on a small square you pass if you follow the route of the shopping streets in Kritsa. It is situated next to at a big plane tree, and you can not miss it. We ordered the stuffed tomatoes, the saganaki (fried cheese), courgette balls, tuna salad and tzatziki. The tzatziki has plenty of the garlic the saganaki and the zucchini balls taste good. The wine too. There is a friendly woman at work.
Our verdict: an 8 out of 10