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Rethymnon - Ierapetra

 

14. RETHYMNON - IERAPETRA (Travelling inland) (see Map )

14.1 Rethymnon to Amari Valley 14.2 Amari Valley 14.3 Psiloritis mountain 14.4 Dikti mountain
14.5 From Dikti to Ierapetra 14.6 To Ag. Nikolaos 14.7 Lato  

Travel to Agios Nikolaos (via the Katharos plateau)

If you do not want to go to Ierapetra (where there is very little to see anyway) and feel like driving more on the mountains and visiting more plateaus, we have a great suggestion. There is a very beautiful route (D3) which takes you up the southeast side of Mt. Dikti, goes through some very picturesque villages, then takes you through the Katharos plateau, goes downhill in an easterly direction and finally ends in Agios Nikolaos, a town where there is certainly more to see and do.

Map, Rethymnon to Ierapetra, via plateau Omalos

To follow this route, take the same road that leads to Mirtos and turn left on the A3 road that you will see near the intersection for Loutraki. (There is a Gr sign at the point where you must turn which sends you to “PIZA”). The road ends at a T-junction where you must turn right - a left turn would take you inside the village. From the start, you have a great view of the Mirtos and the Ierapetra valley, even though the pine forest that once covered the mountain slope was burned in 1990. After 2 or 3 km the sad sight of burned trees disappears and you find yourself in a very beautiful landscape with steep mountain slopes and ravines just above your head and pine or cedar forests or tall bushes all around you.

A little further a road branches off to the west and takes you to an almost abandoned village called Mino. Our route, though, continues straight and leads to Metaxochori, a village well worth making at least a short stop. Very few people have stayed at the village, but its traditional architecture will earn your admiration with its many virtues. The houses are solid, wisely designed, practical and very tasteful, as you can easily see since most of them are open and abandoned. In Metaxochori you will see a T-junction where you must turn right. (A left turn would take you to the fields). After a while the road will take you to Christos, a very beautiful village with many old churches. Christos, like Selakano and Mathokotsana (which are even more secluded), will satisfy the traveller who has a taste for traditional, old, unspoilt things.

After Christos you continue on an asphalt-paved road (A3). About 200 metres before the intersection west of Males, turn left on the small cement road that climbs the mountain. After 500 metres you will see an intersection. (This is at the north end of the village and can also be reached if you go through it, but you may easily get lost in the village alleys). Once here, go right, following the road that goes up the mountain. (The one to the left leads to Mathokotsana and Selakano).

Christos village

The road (D3) passes through a beautiful pine forest and goes uphill. It finally takes you to the Katharos plateau, which is much higher and quieter than the neighbouring Lasithi plateau with which there is no direct contact. The plateau belongs to the Kritsa community and the locals have each appropriated a small - or large - part of it. Scattered all over the place, you will see small houses, shepherd huts, sheepfolds, storage rooms and chapels, as well as a couple of primitive taverns that serve mostly the needs of the locals (since very few tourists come this high). If you are hungry, look for the tavern-hut of Giorgos Tzanakis, the shepherd. It is at a settlement called Avdeliakos near the intersection for Kritsa and it will give you a taste of another epoch.

If you’d like to camp in the Katharos plateau you will find many quiet nooks to set up your tent, especially toward the northwest end of it. Keep in mind, though, that you will need a warm sleeping bag because up here it is cold even in August. In the spring the plateau is covered with a multi-coloured carpet of wild flowers, and it is like a beautiful tableau.

From Avdeliakos to Agios Nikolaos
Avdeliakos is the starting point of a good dirtroad (D2), which winds down the mountain for 16 km, offers spectacular views of Agios Nikolaos and the Mirambellos gulf, and takes you to Kritsa,

Kritsa village

a large village known for its very good woollen clothes and textiles that are produced locally. We suggest that you avoid the stupid patterns with the windmills and the small boats, which are made to appeal to those who don’t know better, and that you look for the traditional geometric patterns and the natural colours of wool: beige, brown, grey and white.

If it is earlier than 3:00 p.m. you can visit the church of Panagia Kera (Our Lady, Mary), one kilometre after Kritsa, on the way to Agios Nikolaos.

Panagia Kera

This church is full of wall paintings of the 13th and 14th century that are very well preserved. The uniqueness of the themes, the richness of the colours and the diversity in expression, the interesting thematic details that give valuable information on the time the paintings were made, and the details of style and execution will certainly impress you.

After Panagia Kera you simply continue for another ten kilometres and you will reach Agios Nikolaos. However, if you have the time, you may want to return to Kritsa first and to make a small detour before Agios Nikolaos in order to visit the Minoan town of Lato in the north. It is certainly worth the trouble.


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

In the small but organized city museum you will see findings from excavations in ancient Kissamos and its surrounding areas. The museum’s collection includes floor mosaics of 2nd and 3rd century houses found in Kissamos city, as well as findings from the archeological sites of Polirrinia and Falasarna (mainly statues, reliefs and ceramics dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman times).
The present town is famous for its amazing wine which is produced here and is celebrated with “the Feast of Wine" at the beginning of August. During the feast local wine is offered in great quantities under the sound of lyre and lute and in a very enthusiastic atmosphere.
The beaches surrounding Kastelli that you can visit for swimming in the homonym gulf are Molos beach covered by thick pebbles, Ghipedo beach surrounded by trees and Telonio beach with view of the Venetian walls. It is better though to take the road to the famous Gramvousa peninsula.

 

 

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