Akrotiri, Crete: A peninsula close to Chania city, with beautiful beaches and magnificent centuries-old monasteries
Akrotiri, Crete, is a peninsula in the east of Chania city, just after the eastern suburbs of the city. “Akrotiri” in Greek means “promontory”.
Akrotiri, Crete, is a peninsula of great importance. Apart from its close vicinity to Chania city, in the peninsula of Akrotiri lays the international airport of Chania. Also, Akrotiri peninsula forms the northwestern side of Souda Bay, where the port of Souda, the biggest port in West Crete, lies.
Akrotiri, Crete – a unique natural environment
Akrotiri, Crete, is circular in shape. In its southern and central part it is flat, but in its northern and eastern parts there are big hills – more than 500 metres high – forming a rugged terrain and coastline. For this reason, in Akrotiri there are interesting small gorges, ideal for hiking.
Akrotiri, Crete, has some beautiful beaches and villages worth seeing. The beaches of Akrotiri are popular to the residents of Chania city, especially in the weekends. The most known of them are Marathi, Loutraki, Kalathas and Stavros. It is noteworthy that in Stavros the famous movie “Zorba the Greek” was filmed. Other interesting places in Akrotiri Peninsula are Kounoupidiana, Korakies, Pithari and Aroni.
Akrotiri, Crete – History and sights
Probably the most known location of historical significance in Akrotiri, Crete, is that of the Venizelos’ Graves. Eleftherios Venizelos was one of the prominent Greek politicians in the modern history of Greece. Venizelos served as Prime Minister of the autonomous Cretan State during the turbulent years in the beginning of the 20th century and the Balkan Wars. A strong supporter of the reunion of Crete with Greece, risked everything in order to achieve it – and he did. Later, Venizelos became the Prime Minister of Greece. An excellent diplomat and a visionary leader, Venizelos was one of the politician that formed the profile of modern Greece.
By the grave of Eleftherios Venizelos is the grave of his son’s, Sophocles, who also was a distinguished politician in his time. The location of the Venizelos’ Graves is one of the best in Akrotiri Peninsula: Surrounded by big trees, and featuring a picturesque small church and a monument, it offers one of the best views to Chania city and to North-western Crete.
In the north part of Akrotiri, Crete, we find two of the most known monasteries in Crete. The first one is Agia Triada Tzangarolon Monastery. It was founded in the 17th century from two Venetian monks and brothers, Jeremiah and Laurentio Giancarolo (the name “Tzangarolon” comes from their name, “Giancarolo”). The two brothers renovated the older monastery that stood there, with the help of local wealthy families, in what today is one of the most beautiful monasteries of the Venetian era.
About 5 km north of Agia Triada, and following a narrow paved road that passes through a small gorge, lies the second renowned monastery of Akrotiri, Crete, the Gouvernetou Monastery. Gouvernetou is a large square building around a central courtyard, where the church of Virgin Mary stands. The monastery is fortified, due to the pirate raids of past centuries, and dates to the 16th century. The surrounding area around the monastery of Gouvernetou is ideal for hiking.
Akrotiri, Crete, is an interesting peninsula very close to Chania city. Apart from its unique nature and its beautiful beaches, Akrotiri, Crete, is also a place of remarkable religious history, well worth a visit for its especial monasteries.