Very near to Stalis (around 15 km) is the village of Avdou. The location of Avdou is spectacular but its location will be the subject of another post. Today I would like to describe our visit to Avdou yesterday on the occasion of a concert taking place there.
Just in a short distance from Stalis (10 km) you will find the traditional and picturesque village of Krasi, a hidden gem in the outskirts of Lassithi Plateau. This is the place where great authors such as Nikos Kazantzakis wrote their books and it is a place which functioned as the shelter where they found tranquility and isolation to conceive their ideas.
Very close to Stalis is the old christian church of St George (in Loutres Malia) which has significant archaeological value. Its walls have a very strange, beautiful and evocative texture. Initially it looks like an ordinary church, but when you look closer at the missing eyes of the paintings and at the dates which pirates have scratched on the walls, then you feel a little shivering. I took some photos with emphasis on the texture that enclose the history of the place.
These walls are a system of defensive walls first built during the Arab rule and completed in the Venetian times. The uniqueness of these walls lies in their size. Their length is 4,5 km and they surround the old city of Heraklion.
In most of their sections the walls extend to more than 10 m in thickness and 15 m in height. Many parts of the walls are so big that on top of them there is a football field and many places of cultural activities. One can walk across and atop the walls, where (atop the Martinengo Bastion) you will find the tomb of the famous writer, Nikos Kazantzakis.
There are four main gateways (St George’s Gate which is used for cultural activities and exhibitions, New Gate, Bethleem Gate where performances and music events are held and the reconstructed Chanioporta (Chania Gate).
The walls are so impressive in volume that they can only be compared to the Sinic Walls of China and form one of the best examples of medieval wall architecture in the Mediterranean world.
These walls were being built for 100 years and were accompanied with the construction of Koules fortress for the protection of the harbour, when Heraklion was a colony of Venice.
They lasted the longest city siege in world history, from 1648 to 1669, a total of 21 years, against Ottomans.
Knossos, located 5 km from the centre of Heraklion, was the biggest city of the Minoan era and is considered Europe’s first city. It is the silent testimony of the earliest large-scale Aegean civilization. During the thriving period of this city around 1700 BC the palace and the surroundings were inhabited by almost 100.000 people. They ruled over the Aegean Sea and based on some findings in Egyptian tombs they seem to have had contact and trade relationships with the Egyptians.
The palace of Knossos was a multi-storey complex of buildings which had an impressive water supply and drainage network. The palace was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans who found parts of the buildings as well as precious objects and impressive wall paintings (frescoes). What is of interest is that there is no fortification which indicates that they were protected by their ships and did not have any fear of enemies as they were the rulers of the sea.
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Heraklion offers many places to visit. If you are interested in the history of the island and, particularly the ancient times, the first place to visit is the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Located in the centre of the city, it is one of the five most important archaeological museums in the world. A highlight of this museum is the exhibits of the Minoan era. The museum contains the most complete collection of artefacts of the Minoan civilization (including the famous Phaestos Disk, the Snake Goddess figurine and the bull-frescoes) and this is why it is considered as the Museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide.
Other periods of the Cretan ancient history are also represented in this museum apart from the prehistoric era. There are more than 15.000 findings from a period extending to almost 5000 years. Thus, the visitor will see exceptional artistry, engraved seals, pottery, figurines, jewellery, weapons, sacred axes, and the famous frescoes.
During the WWII the collection of the Museum survived without damages. It has been recently renovated and offers a modern experience to the visitors with the use of digital means such as video projections and interactive touch screens.
One of the most interesting tourist attractions around Stalis is Krasi, which is a traditional village with a big and old tree in the central square where you may walk and enjoy the nature and the wonderful view near to wilderness. Inside the village (not in the central square of the village but inside the narrow roads of the village) you will see people and cafes (kafeneia) which seem to have emerged from the sixties. It is 600 m in altitude and the temperature there is at least 10 degrees lower than in Stalis. It has a cultural tradition since many famous Greek authors went there to stay and write their books in isolation in the fifties.
After being closed for more than seven years, Villa Stella apartments in Stalis were totally renovated and re-opened in July 2016 under the new management of Lefteris and Vasso. Recently (April 2017) the rooms have been further refurbished and redecorated.
Our advantages are:
1. Enthusiasm for offering the best services to our guests.
2. A good sense of what hospitality is about based on the old Greek tradition of Philoxenia (hospitality) drawn from the myth of Xenios Zeus (hospitable Zeus) that established a tradition of religious obligation to be hospitable to travelers.
4. Attention to modern facilities such as the importance of a reliable free wifi connection in the rooms and the premises.
The location of Villa Stella is exceptional because the apartments are located in a distance of an one-minute walk from the beach. In the neighbourhood you may find any shop or service you want (supermarket, pharmacy, rent-a-car, tavernas, jewelry etc).