KOLYMBARI

1 February, 2018

Kolymbari (often written as Kolimbari or Kolimpari) is a beautiful waterfront town 23km West of Chania set in the beginning of Cape Spatha. Kolimbari area is a wonderful mixture of green hillsides with olive trees and vineyards, a long pebble beach, small hidden coves, traditional villages and sights of historical interest. It offers the chance of seclusion, relaxation, community feeling and at the same time being next to the necessary amenities. Green and blue coloursdominate this land along with the breathtaking view of the White Mountains.

Kolimbari town itself offers the opportunity to the visitor to taste fresh fish, seafood and local delicacies at the seaside taverns, stroll along the beach, and daydream or enjoy a coffee gazing at the sea.

The area claims a fair share of history itself. One of the most important sights in Kolimbari is the Monastery of Panagia Odigitria dedicated to Virgin Mary known as “Moni Gonias” built at the very Western end of the bay. It was initially founded in the 9th century but in the 17th century it was rebuilt in the place it stands today. The Monastery has a fortress overlooking the bay at its front. Throughoutthe years it was raided and plundered numerous times by pirates and then by the Turkish in later years. It was actually used as a centre of resistance in the 1821 revolution against the Turkish Occupation. Thanks to its Monks, nowadays the monastery hosts an important collection of precious post-Byzantine icons, relics, and other religious treasures. A big celebration is held at the Monastery on the 15th of August on ‘Mother Mary’s day’. The Cretan Orthodox Academy, an important educational institute, is located right next to the Monastery.

The roots of the area go back to the Minoan Era. Traces of Minoan settlements have been found in several places near Kolimbari but no systematic excavation has been done yet. Between Minothiana (named after King Minos) and Saint Irene, a very important Minoan City bloomed which is buried today. Its name is assumed to be “Pergamos”.

Kolimbari can be used as a starting point for visiting important sights and places.

Diktynna temple, the Diktynneion – in North West Crete at the NE tip of the elongated and mountainous peninsula of Rodopou lies the remains of the long-known sanctuary.

Diktynna or Britomartis was a daughter of the God Zeus.  Born, according to mythology, right here on Crete, she was a mountain goddess and was known for her hunting skills and love of nature. King Minos, who ruled Crete and lived in the Minoan Palace of Knossos, fell in love with Diktynna and pursued her for a full nine months chasing her across Crete. But Diktynna wanted to remain a virgin and would not give in to Minos’ pressure. He chased her to the edge of a cliff and being trapped, she threw herself off.

Fishermen saved her in their nets (Diktya) and a sailor, Andromedes, sailed with her from Crete to Aegina. After landing there he made advances towards her and she fled from his vessel into a grove, and disappeared in the sanctuary of Artemis where she became known as Aphaea. Because of her dedication and desire to protect her chastity, Artemis awarded her with immortality.

Remains from Roman times – a marble statue of Diktynna and a statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian discovered in 1913 – now stand in the archaeological museum in Chania.  The remains of temple built by Hadrian around AD123 survive at the site of an earlier temple built around the 7th Century BC, standing on a rocky plateau above the small cove and sandy beach below.

Deliana Gorge is close to Deliana village, 15 kilometres south of Kolimbari.

It’s a beautiful gorge perfect for an easy hike, as it takes almost an hour to walk through it both ways. The road passes along the river and the sycamore trees on the right. The rocks stand tall around you and the passage gets narrower in the heart of the gorge. In many cases you will have to go through the streams that merge with the river and sometimes you will get the feeling that it has darkened earlier since the sun cannot get through the tall rocks. The route is short and at the end the path slopes upwards where there is a deserted monastery of the “Old Lady” Mother Mary and then the village itself. In Deliana you will find the homestead of a Great Man of the Greek Theatre, Alexis Minotis. Rumour has it that a small museum will be established in his honour.

The Cave of Saint John the hermit in the village of Marathokefala is an amazing place to visit. Not only are there numerous small caverns hewn into the hillside rock, but the main area as you enter is also used as a church.  A representation of the birth of Christ takes place on Christmas Eve where lots of people arrive to feel the magic atmosphere of that night. A great Celebration is held in Saint John’s honour on the 6th and 7th of October.

The oldest olive tree in Greece and one of the oldest olive trees in the world, estimated to be almost 3000 years old, can be found in the village of Vouves. Recently a small museum was founded showing the importance of the olive trees and olive oil for the area.

A good number of villages around Kolimbari are worth visiting for their beautiful landscape and the Byzantine churches, some of them dating back to the 6th century, like the church of Archangelos Mihail in Episkopi Village. Also near Episkopi you can see the open theatre of Alexis Minotis  and the church of Saint Antonios. Nohia village is well known for its pottery. Spilia village is a picturesque traditional village with a beautiful square with cycamore trees and the old church dedicated to Mother Mary which dates back to the 14th century.

From Kolimbari you can start off for the magnificent beaches of Falasarna and BalosChrysoskalitisa Monastery and the famous beach of Elafonisiand Paleochora. Don’t forget to stop at Topolia and Elos on the way.

The local marina in Kolimbari can host up to medium sized vessels and be a starting point or rest station for those who love to make their own trips by speed boats and yachts.  Don’t hesitate to ask us for information about renting space prices for the marina.

Festivities go on forever through out the summer season in Kolimbari. Festivals, feasts and celebrations give you a real good taste of the area’s tradition and way of life. Not only religious celebrations but festivals of all kinds, just name one!  Tsikoudia festival, olive oil, wine, fish, traditional products, honey, rooster festival and it never ends! People do not miss the chance of having fun with Cretan music, tsikoudia and dancing!

In recent years West Crete and especially the area of Kolimbari has attracted the people’s interest because it still retains an unspoilt and green character without being cut off from necessary amenities and offers the chance to the visitor to choose between livelihood and seclusion. Just take your pick!