Archanes - The traditional face of Crete
Archanes or Arhanes is a beautiful small town, some 15 km south of Heraklion. From prehistoric years to this date it has been an important financial centre of the surrounding area. It is also the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement.
The discovery of ancient roads leading from Archanes to Juktas, Anemospilia, Xeri Kara and Vathypetro indicate that Archanes was an important hub in the region during Minoan times. Archaeological evidence indicates that ancient Archanes spread out over the same area as the modern town of Archanes.
Churches and chapels with splendid Byzantine frescos, the ancient cemetery at Fourni as well as the remnants of King Minos’ summer palace are only some of the interesting sites that you will be able to visit.
Situated at the foot of the sacred Mount Giouchtas at an altitude of 380 m and away from Heraklion’s coastal holiday resorts, the area boasts a particular natural environment; gorges, hills, mountains, extensive olive groves, cultivable plain expanses, rare flora and fauna, vineyards, as well as abundant water characterize the area.
It is one of Crete’s most important wine-growing regions. The world famous table grapes known as “rozaki” and its excellent wine (Archanes and Armandi) produced here since Minoan times make this place unique on the island.
But the buildings also encapsulate the neo-classical tradition with Venetian architecture. Archanes combines the effects of neoclassical and local architecture. In the traditional part of the settlement there narrow roads laid with natural slabs, where bougainvilleas, jasmines and pergolas, planted in flowerbeds, give colors and perfumes.
Buildings, municipal and private, are stone-built with tiled wooden roofs. The facades are usually colored in ochre, the frames wooden and the architectural details, worked in local stone. Some have pretty balconies with elaborate iron railings. Courtyards, full of flowers, can be considered an extension of the narrow roads.
In the town center you will find the beautiful church of Panagia, which has a white bell-tower and a fine collection of icons dating from the 16th century.
The church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) on the fringes of the town offers wonderful Byzantine frescos from the 14th century. South of Archanes you can also visit the church of Asomatos, dedicated to St. Michael with marvelous frescoes dating from the 14th century.
The church of Agia Paraskevi contains also very old frescos probably from around the 14th century, though they are not in a good condition.
Finally, the welcoming cafes (kafenia), the traditional taverns and the cozy small hotels of the town are among the best in the Heraklion Prefecture.
How to get there:
There are regular public buses from and to Heraklion on an hourly basis (30 min. journey).