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Archanes Village
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Archanes, Heraklion Crete

Archanes is a lovely picturesque town with 3.860 permanent residents, built on a hillside within an area with luxurious vegetation and a lot of current water. It is situated at a distance of 16 kilometres far from Heraklion at the South. 

Archanes is found in the centre of an area full of archaeological sites, mainly of the Minoan period,  all of great importance.  There are many things worth seeing and visiting in the area.

The important building of the palatial type, destroyed in 1500 b.C. evidences for the existence of an important Minoan city at the place. In fact, the finds of the site in "Tourkogeitonia" ("the Turkish quartier") within the town, do confirm the importance of this Minoan site. Up to now there have been found fossilised relics of a textile, of some 5.500 -6.000 years old, big-sized storage jars and various artifacts of every day life. Excavations going on by the eminent greek archaeologists professor Yannis Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki continue to bring in light very interesting finds.

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1 kilometre far from the village to the North at Fourni,  it is found another important archaeological site. Here it has been found a quite extended cemetery, possibly the most important in the area of prehistoric Aegean. It is dated in 2.400 to 1200 b.C. Excavations carried out since 1964 by  Yannis Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki have brought to light more than 25 buildings, most of them of funerary use, along with numerous items of everyday and ritual use.
The most important discovery at Fourni has been this of a vaulted grave (vaulted grave A), which contained the first not looted sarcophagus in Crete; the grave is dated in early 14th century b.C.

Going on with the archaeologogical sites of the area, it is worth visiting "Pisso Livadia" at Vathyetro, 4 kilometres Southern to Archanes, to see the the small palace-like Minoan villa. Archaeologists suggest that it was possibly the seat of a local governor; the building seems to have been constructed in early 16th century 
b.C., and was destroyed in around 1.550 b.C. Excavations on the site started in 1949 by the eminent greek archaeologist professor Spyros Marinatos.

The most famous archaeological site in the area is the Minoan sanctuary at "Anemospilia", some 4 kilometres far from the village of Archanes at the Northwest, on the foot of the face-shaped mountain Youchtas. The sanctuary has been excavated in 1979 by the professor Yannis Sakellarakis and according to  the finds it seemed to be a small sanctuary, with no special finds. But the place gave a serious evidence that on this place it had been performed a human sacrifice, the first known in the area of the Aegean,  just before the earthquake which destroyed the sanctuary (possibly in an effort to ward it off). At the same area you may visit the cave "Hosto Nero" interesting enough.

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The town of Archanes, as well as the area around did flourished during the Byzantine and the Venetian periods, as show the numerous churches maintained up to now. The most important of them are Aghia Triada (the Holy Trinity),a byzantine church going back to the 14th century, the church of Aghia Paraskevi, also byzantine and possibly of the same period as Aghia Triada; a few more recent churches are also worth seeing: the church of Panaghia, with a beautiful campanile, and the church dedicated to Aghios Nikolaos,  the protector of the town, which according to the date inscribed on the lintel of the entrance it was built in 1857.

Don't miss to see the wall paintings in the church of Aghios Assomatos, within the homonymous settlement; they are a characteristic sample of the byzantine iconography of the Cretan School.
It is also worth visiting the church dedicated to Jesus Christ's Transfiguration, on the top of mountain Youchtas; apart from the church you will enjoy a magnificent environment and view.

The most recent period of the town is represented by an excellent sample of the architectural style of the early 19th century, the "Didaktirion" (school). It is a two storey building designed by the greek architect Saliveros in 1901 and funded by the Greek - americans coming from Archanes.

A rather small but important Arcaeological Museum houses the finds from the area, along with a good collection of photos from the sites.

A series of cultural activities are organised in summer by the Municipality and the various cultural centres of the town. The program consists of concerts of traditional and modern music, dance performances and  theatrical plays, visual arts' exhibitions, as well as traditional feasts.

One of the most interesting traditional feasts is "the feast of the Archanes' grape", taking place in mid-August. All the vine products of the area, along with the famous wines, are displayed during the feast.

A local feast ("panighyri") takes place on the 24th of June in honour of St.John; people set bonfires in the streets, jump over them, eat drink and dance.

A few cute hotels, some studios and rooms to let in old restored buildings are offered for accommodations. Eating and drinking is plenty and delicious in the traditional taverns and restaurants of the town, as well as in the local cafes. 

Also, don't miss to visit the market of the town to shop a variety of local products.

The town is close enough to Heraklion and access is very easy by public buses with frequent service and taxi; however the best way of arriving is by private or rented car and motorbike, as it is the only comfortable way to visit the area and enjoy both the natural environment and the evidence of a long human activity.
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