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Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)


5. HANIA - KISSAMOS (see Map )

5.1 Hania to Kissamos 5.2 Kissamos

Kasteli, officially Kissamos or Kasteli Kissamou (Kasteli of Kissamos), is the major town of the Kissamos county and has developed into a fairly large place with plenty of conveniences. This development is due to the fruit and juice canning industry, the vineyards, the well-selling olive oil as well as other agricultural products.

Map  Hania to Kissamos

It is also due to the many tourists it attracts without even having sights or beaches. The reason for this is its harbour and the boat lines to and from Githio and Kalamata at the south end of the Peloponnese. Most foreign tourists who arrive from their countries to the port of Patras, and especially the German bikers, find it very convenient that they can board a ship in the Peloponnese and get off in Crete. In this way they do not only avoid the unpleasant journey to Piraeus and the jungle of Athens, but they also get to explore Crete without having to go back and forth, because the ship docks at the westernmost port of the island.

The town has a history of at least 2500 years behind it. In antiquity it was called Kissamos and it served as the seaport of ancient Polirrinia. It flourished from the classical times till the Roman period and was a close ally of the Romans, which is why they did not only spare it when they conquered other Greek towns but they even adorned it with many public buildings. These included a large theatre, public baths, and a large aqueduct which provides the town with water to this day! In addition, the Romans built many luxurious villas.

Today, foundations of Roman villas are quite frequently discovered in the town’s building sites, and many of the finest floor mosaics have come to light, dating from the 2nd and 3rd century AD. One of these is in the archaeological site right behind the Health Centre of the town.

Kissamos has been well fortified throughout its history, because its close proximity to the sea and its considerable wealth invited many attacks.

Polyrrinia

Those who built the strongest walls, though, are the Venetians, who were masters in the art of fortifying a town. The Venetian Rule spanned the period between 1204 and 1664 AD, and the Castelo, built from the very first days of it, became a landmark of the town, which was thence called Kasteli. (They also named it Kasteli Kissamou in an effort to distinguish it from the dozens of other Kastelis all over Crete). During its long history the town was besieged countless times, so the famous Castelo was often destroyed and rebuilt. What survives of it today is a jumble of parts built at different historical times. These can be seen just about anywhere, and unfortunately they have been left to their fate without the least provision for maintenance.

The port of Kasteli is situated about three kilometres to the west of the town. As you get off the ship and walk on the pier toward the shore, you will see the Rodopos peninsula to your left (west) and the Gramvoussa peninsula to your right (east), where you can also distinguish the country road that runs along the east side of it (see Route 6). People tend to get off the ship and immediately start their exploration of Crete, which is why Kasteli has very few hotels and even fewer restaurants! On the other hand, there are plenty of grocery stores, since everyone buys supplies before leaving for the big journey...

If, however, you want to spend a few days at Kasteli to get a rest and make short day trips in the area (see Routes 6 and 7), your best choice is Vista Del Mar Villas. You will see the villas on your way to the town about 1.2 kilometres after the port. They are very cosy, inexpensive and comfortable, and they come with a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and kitchen, and a balcony overlooking the sea. You should also know, however, that they don’t like to rent them for less than three nights, so if you are planning on making a one-night stop you’d better look elsewhere.

Camping is another interesting option you have. A few kilometres to the east of Kasteli you will find two good camping grounds, so avoid the Kasteli camping, which is noisy, neglected and situated at the...

Kissamos or Kasteli

backyard of a factory! Take the new road to Hania and after five kilometres you will see an intersection. The sign at the intersection points you to the Mithymna Camping (tel. 0822 031.444), a rather primitive establishment with few luxuries, but with beautiful trees, lots of shade, peace and quiet, and a large sandy beach in front of it with a very nice restaurant. In fact, this business was recently expanded to include... a newly built apartment complex, so if you change your mind about camping you can always rent an apartment instead! The second option is Nopigia Camping (tel. 0822 031.111), which is about 1.5 kilometres further to the east. It, too, has peace and quiet and nice trees for shade. It also has flowers, common areas that are well looked after, and a large swimming pool. As you may guess, however, the swimming pool exists because the beach in front of the hotel is covered with fairly large stones and is rather uninviting.

If you are not particularly fond of organised camping we have still another suggestion. Continue to the east on the dirtroad going along the beach, and right after you pass Nopigia Camping you will run into a fenced pastureland that blocks your way. Open the door, get in, shut it behind you, and keep going. After a while you will see a chapel with a covered yard and a small pebbly beach in front of it. This entire area is ideal for camping; it’s full of trees, it has a drinking fountain next to the chapel with cool, refreshing water, and the ground is quite level allowing you to set up your tent comfortably. For your camp fire try to use the same spot as the people who were there before you. Finally, collect your garbage in a plastic bag and take it with you when you leave, because there are no barrels around.


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

Ios means “flower”. Did you know that?
Íos or Niós, as the locals call it, is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, like a flower, as its name “Ion” denotes. According to the ancient tradition, Íos was the homeland of Homer’s mother and the final resting place of the great epic poet. Upon reaching the island, the view before you is enchanting: as pretty as a picture, Hóra lies very close to the harbour in Ormos and greets the travellers, built in an amphitheatre-like manner on the slope of a hill, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle. This is a listed traditional village, one of the finest examples of Cycladic architecture. Snow-white little houses, picturesque arcade-covered alleys (“stiyádia”), the twelve windmills, churches with arched belfries and light blue domes create a unique residential area. Hóra’s sheltered alleys is the “stage” where Koúnia, an ancient local custom is performed every May, as follows: young men make swings for young ladies who rock themselves while listening to traditional love songs being sung to them in the form of a dialogue.

 

 

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