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Hania - Paleochora


2. HANIA - Paleochora (see Map )

2.1 Hania to Argiles 2.2 Rodovani to Sougia 2.3 Rodovani to Paleochora 2.4 Paleochora

If you head west of Rodovani, after about a couple of kilometres you will find a very picturesque village called Maza. Make a stop here and visit the Byzantine church of Aghios Nikolaos, decorated with beautiful paintings that tell the story of the saint.

Map  Hania Sougia Paleochora

These were made by Ioannis Pagomenos, the well known Cretan artist of the 14th century who combined the

Byzantine icon-painting tradition with many elements of the local Cretan school.
After Maza continue west (toward the village of Temenia). The road goes through thick olive groves covering the hill sides, occasionally interrupted by vineyards that give a tasty red wine. Just before Temenia you will have to choose between two routes.

The first one is for street motorcycles and goes north toward Kandanos (A3). On your way there you will pass through a couple of charming villages, Vamvakados and Anissaraki, with three Byzantine churches, and you will cross some large olive groves and small fields with vegetables and vines.

The second option is for off-road motorcycles and allows you to reach Paleochora driving on a country road that offers beautiful scenery (D3). Turn left at the crossroads before Temenia and take the dirtroad going to Prodromi (you will see a Gr/E sign that says “Prodromi 6”). The steep rocky hill right in front of you was once the homeland of the Irtakinians.
Irtakina was an ancient town with an apparently great fear of enemies. In fact, it was more like a military camp than a town except for the fact that it also had a life beyond military concerns. Built on the side of a steep hill, it was immune against any attack from the north or east, but the citizens were still afraid and they built two Cyclopean walls around their town to protect it further.

Prodromi

They lived there with their wives and kids, and whenever they were not busy defending their town they cultivated the fields to the southwest of it (in the direction of Paleochora). Whether out of deeply rooted insecurity or because of the major threats they faced, at some point they decided to seek an alliance with their neighbours, so together with Eliros, Lissos, Syia, Pikilassos and Tara they formed a coalition known as To kinò ton Orìon (the Mountain-People League, 3rd century BC). However, they were not a truly warlike people (like our friends, the Spartans), or at least that’s not what the few remaining monuments seem to tell us. Apart from the few surviving parts of the walls, which testify to the city’s great need for defence, the most important remnant from the ancient times is a temple dedicated to Pan, the protector of flocks and shepherds... Let us also note that the hill was excavated in 1939 and it was then that the temple was brought to light.

Irtakina is a fine example of a ruined ancient town exciting the imagination, and the entire island echoes with memories from the past. These will spice your journey with a sense of travelling through time and they will give you something interesting to think about. But of course Crete’s charm comes from everything about it, history as well as people, scenery and adventure. If you are hungry for beautiful scenery or exciting adventure, the crossroads one kilometre after you turn for Prodromi will invite you to choose.

Two ways lead to Paleochora from this crossroads. The one is to turn left (east) and go through Prodromi - a route promising adventure and exploration - and the other is to go right (west) and go through Platanes to enjoy a scenic ride. On the crossroads you will see a Gr/E sign pointing you to Prodromi via a small country road (D3). Whether you take this road or go through Platanes, you are in for a great experience.

If you select the first option you turn left on the dirtroad and continue until Prodromi. Prodromi is a colourful village with many old houses and a Byzantine church dedicated to Panagia Skafidiani and decorated with the paintings of Ioannis Pagomenos (1347). Exactly 1600 metres from the sign at the northern entrance of the village, you will see a white icon stand and a small cement-paved path which immediately turns into a dirtroad. Take this path, make a left turn at the first intersection you will hit, a second left turn at the second intersection, and a right turn at the third (all other roads are dead-ends, anyway, and stop suddenly before a field). You will pass through a barren landscape and go through a fence gate. After that starts a truly magnificent route through the steep southern shores of Crete, a route that’s great for enduro bikes and exciting in its wilderness. At some point the road intersects with the Sougia - Paleochora coastal path (E4) and a little further it stops suddenly at some distance from the shore. Needless to say, you can camp anywhere you like in this area, but there is no water, no shade and no reason to do so! Those of you that like to hike can continue on foot to Paleochora (a two-hour walk you will certainly enjoy). The rest can return to Prodromi by the same road and from there continue to Anidri, a little further to the west. There you will see the beautiful Byzantine church of Aghios Georgios, also decorated with the paintings of Ioannis Pagomenos. After the village the road goes through an impressive gorge full of plane trees and caves, and shortly before you leave the gorge it turns into an asphalted road (A3) that leads to Paleochora.

Your second option at the crossroads (the one with the view) is to forget about Prodromi and go right. The road (D3) takes you to a pretty high altitude from where you have an enchanting view of the south coast, then goes through the half-deserted villages of Platanes and Asphendiles and turns north following the eastern slope of a gorge in the bottom of which flows the Azogirian river. This route offers you a great view of Azogires, a very beautiful village on the other side of the gorge surrounded by thick forests. A little later the road crosses to the other side taking you to the village. The attractive scenery brings quite a few tourists to this place and so do the Harakas cave and the Monastery of the Holy Fathers, which is built about two kilometres away on the top of the hill (however, the monastery and the cave are nothing special). If you wish to stay in Azogires, you will find a few Rooms To Let and a couple of taverns. A wide, uninteresting dirtroad (D1) will take you south of Azogires and join the main road about three kilometres north of Paleochora.


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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