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Kissamos - Sirikari


10. KISSAMOS - SIRIKARI (see Map )

In the town of Kissamos (Kasteli) you will see an intersection with a Gr/E sign directing you to Polirrinia. The road (A3) goes south, climbing some small hills full of olive groves and vineyards. Drive carefully because there are many potholes and dangerous turns. The problem with the potholes gets even worse after the village of Grigoriana.

Map  Kissamos to Sirikari

It gets so bad that the road has... more potholes than asphalt, but luckily this doesn’t last long. The asphalt ends at the centre of Polirrinia, where you will see a restaurant and some Rooms To Let; just north of the village is a hill (417m high) with the ruins of the ancient town. The foot of this hill can be reached in two ways: you can walk through the cobbled streets of the village, or you can turn left on the dirtroad that you’ll see about a hundred metres after the sign at the village entrance. This road will take you to a cemetery, where you can leave your bike and continue on foot. At the cemetery you will see the church of the Holy Fathers, which is partly constructed with ancient building materials.

The ancient town of Polirrinia

Two cocks in the same hencoop are bound to fight, and two powerful towns in the same area cannot be the best of neighbours. Ever since the Achaeans settled in this area in the 8th century BC and built the town of Polirrinia on a tall, well fortified hill, they were in constant fight with their more powerful neighbours, the Kidonians, who had settled just a few kilometres east of the town, on the site of modern Hania. Judging from the name of the town (Polirrinia < Gr. poly, many and ren[e]a, sheep), one would think that the settlers were peaceful shepherds. In reality, they were a warlike people that survived mainly for being good warriors. Many of the town’s coins depict Athena as a warrior-goddess, wearing a helmet and bearing a spear in her hand.

Polyrrinia

Athena and Artemis, it seems, were the two patron goddesses of the town, and apparently they did a good job at protecting it since during the entire classical and hellenistic period the town and its two seaports, Falassarna and Kissamos, managed to survive without any major war catastrophes. When the Romans appeared on the scene, the Polirrinians quickly entered into an alliance with them - before the Kidonians could do the same - and with a sweeping attack they managed to teach their age-long enemies a good lesson. All during the period of the Roman rule, Polirrinia was a prosperous town, well protected behind its high walls.

After the 3rd century AD we have no reference to it, but in the 10th century it is once again mentioned in the literature, this time as an important Byzantine town. Today one can see the ruins of the city wall, which belong mainly to the Byzantine period, as well as a couple of aqueducts from the Roman times, carved into the rock and preserved in very good condition. From the earlier periods of the town’s history only few things have survived, such as the foundations of some temples and houses and a number of inscriptions. Also, close to the two aqueducts above the town is a small cave dedicated to the Nymphs, in whose walls one can still see the carved niches that contained the Nymphs’ statuettes. If you are wondering what happened to the hundreds of stone-built houses and the temples and big public buildings of the town, you should know that they didn’t disappear, but they simply changed form; the modern village of Polirrinia has inherited not only the name of the town, but also all building materials that were still of use. Recycling, one could say, in its purest form!

About 150 metres before the sign with the village name you will see a dirtroad (D3) to your right with a small sign marking the European Path (E4). Turn right on this dirtroad, and after 400 metres you will see a building with a tiled roof, which houses the elementary school of the village.

Polyrrinia

Turn right and follow the E4 diamond-shaped signs: make a right turn 50 metres past the school and a second right turn after another 100 metres, and at the next two or three intersections that you’ll see keep turning right. The road goes through a desolate landscape with low hills covered with bushes, passes through the small village of Galouvas, and takes you to Loussakies where it meets the main road. Go left at this point and continue until you get to Zachariana. About 300 metres after the sign west of the village, turn left on the dirtroad (D3) which you will see climbing the mountain - there is an E4 sign at the intersection - and reset your counter in order to follow Road Book 2. Until the village of Sineniana, you will be travelling through a rocky area with many chestnut and olive trees, while at some point you will cross a small plateau where you could pitch camp. (This lies about 550 metres above sea level). After Sineniana the scenery becomes immensely enjoyable and you pass through a gorge full of plane, chestnut and oak trees that has some very inviting spots for camping right next to the river. At about 1.5 km after the village you will see a dirtroad (D2) to your left, which leaves the gorge and joins the asphalt road just a few metres north of Sirikari. After Sirikari, the road (A3) goes downhill through the olive groves, and all you have to do is follow the signs that will take you back to Kasteli.

If you do not want to return to Kasteli, you have two options. One, you can turn right at Kalathenes so that you get to follow Route 8. Two, you can simply ignore the road that goes to Sirikari and keep going straight. A few kilometres down the road you will see a chapel followed by a dirtroad on your left-hand side. This dirtroad leads to the picturesque Kostogiannides, but we suggest you ignore it and go straight. If the night is falling and you are tempted by the idea of camping in the area, there is an excellent spot by the river, where you can camp in the shade of huge plane and chestnut trees. (Just turn on the dirtroad that you’ll see to your right about a hundred metres after the chapel and you will find it). When you get back to the route, follow the dirtroad as it turns to the west and climbs the mountain. You will travel through a very beautiful forest of giant chestnut trees and then through a pass at an altitude of eight hundred metres. This is the highest point of the route, and it offers a spectacular view of the west coast of Crete, especially at sunset. From here on the road winds down the mountain through the woods and takes you to the village of Kambos from where you can follow Route 7 to Elafonissi.


THE ROUTES THE ROUTES

Routes starting from Hania

Hania
1. Hania - Akrotiri
2. Hania - Paleochora
3. Hania - Sameria
4. Hania - Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
5. Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)

Routes starting from Kissamos
Kissamos (Kasteli)
6. Kissamos - Gramvoussa
7. Kissamos - Elafonissos
8. Kissamos - Paleochora (through the Topolian Gorge)
9. Kissamos - Paleochora (through Episkopi)
10. Kissamos - Sirikari

Routes starting from Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
11. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (travelling inland)
12. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (following the coast)

Routes starting from Rethimno (Rethymnon)
Rethimno (Rethymnon)
13. Rethimno - Ierapetra (following the south coast)
14. Rethimno - Ierapetra (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Ierapetra
Ierapetra
15. Ierapetra - Zakros (coastal road)
16. Ierapetra - Zakros (inland route)

Routes starting from Iraklio (Heraklion)
Iraklio (Heraklion)
17. Heraklion - Rethymnon (coastal road)
18. Heraklion - Rethymnon (travelling inland)
19.Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (coastal road)
20. Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos
21. Agios Nikolaos - Zakros


Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 

Tip of the day

Syros. This is the island where Greek tradition and western influence come to a harmonious marriage. Ermoúpoli(meaning “the city of Hermes”) is the island’s capital town and has been the first important trade and industrial centre of the country in the 19th century. Evidence of this glorious past can be seen on public buildings (the City Hall, the Customs Office, “Apollo” theatre), on the neoclassical houses and at the beautiful squares. Due to its economic activity, Ermoúpoli has been called “Manchester of Greece” and the history of its years of blossom is exhibited in the Industrial Museum.
The Orthodox community has contributed some outstanding religious monuments to the architecture of Ermoúpoli such as the churches of Metamórphossi tou Sotíros (Transfiguration of Jesus Christ), St Nicolas the Rich (Áyios Nikólaos Ploússios), Dormition of the Mother of God (Koímissis tis Theotókou).

 

 

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