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Sivas Village
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Sivas village, Heraklion Crete

Situated at a distance of 62 kilometres far from Heraklion at the Southwest, not far from the road to Matala, Sivas is a beautiful small traditional inland village of 400 permanent residents, listed by the Ministry of Culture as a traditional village with conservation status; it has interesting stone buildings with carved blazons and arched doors; it is famous for the cultivation of various high quality agricultural products, mainly olive trees. It is the birthplace of the greek author Themos Cornaros.

The first thing you see when entenring the village, is a very nice and characteristic spring, just by the church of Aghia Marina. Start your strolling around from the square of the village; you will enjoy a sweet-smelling coffe in the traditional cafe and admire the old elementary school, a building of 1864, dominating the square. Next to this building it is found the church of Aghios Ioannis (St. John), also built in 1864 and celebrated on the 29th of August,  in honour of the decapitation of St. John. The church has a very interesting woodcarved icon screen and excellent icons made by the famous hagiographer Ioannis Stathakis.                                  
Another church, very important for the locals, is that of Aghios Ioannis Xenos (St. John), who came from this village and was the one who diffused the Christian religion to the broader area, in 961, after the island had been set free from the Arabe domination by the Byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas.

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The area around the village is full of interesting Christian monuments, mainly churches and Monasteries.

It is worth visiting the nearby hill of Profitis Elias, not only to see the homonymous tiny church, but to enjoy the marvellous view of the Messara plain.

At a distance of 2,5 kilometres far from the village at the South close to the village of Listaros there is the old church of Archangelos Michael and next to it a rock where it is said that Aghios Eutychianos died a martyr.

More at the South, some 7 kilometres far from the village there is the Holy Monastery of Panaghia Odigitria and close to it the church of Aghios Andreas, dating back to the 14th or 15th century. The church has interesting wall paintings. One of the characteristic features of this church are the walled-in food plates which, according to tradition, remind that all craftsmen involved in the construction of the church were in fast, during all the period they worked there. The church was dedicated to Aghios Andreas, Archbishop of Crete and is celebrated on the 4th of July. On your way to the Monastery of Odigitria, at "Vathys Langos" you will also see the church of Aghio Ioannis, dating back to the 14th or 15th century.

The imporant Monastery of Panaghia Odigitria, dedicated to Virgin Mary, is found at a distance of 8 kilometres far from Sivas at the South, on the way leading to cape Lithino; it is a castle-like construction, following the architectural features of the 14th-16th centuries. During the Venetian domination the Monastery was a cultural and religious centre of great importance, whereas during the Ottoman domination it was the centre of revolutionary movements of the Cretan people which resulted first to the sacrifice of Xopateras, the legendary abbot of the Monastery in 1829 and later on to acts of violence against the monastery during the revolution of 1866.
Today only a few monks live here, but the monuments survived show something of its old glory. The Catholicon of the Monastery is a two-aisled church, one dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul and the other to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. A big fortification wall surrounds the Monastery with the tower  of the Abbot Xopateras at the North.

Leaving Odigitria you will see at the West the ruins of the old Monastery of Aghioi Eutychiani, whereas more at the South, at the entrance of Ayofarango there is the tiny church of Aghia Kyriaki, dug in the rock. According to archaeologists the place used to be a sacred place since the Minoan period.

From here you may take the path leading to Ayofarango, a gorge of unique natural beuty, ending up at a marvellous beach with crystal clear blue water in the Libyan Sea. You will arrive there after a one -hour walking within the gorge.   

Some 5 kilometres from Odigitria at the South, western to Ayofarango, on the dirt track leading to cape Lithino there is another tiny church of Panaghia, built in an impressive place. The church is built within a cave and there are traces of cells for monks dug in the rocks, an evidence that in the past there was a monastery  here.

Some 20 kilometres South to Sivas there is the cape Lithino (meaning "of stone"); the cape is the most southern end of Crete and one of the most beautiful places of the island. On the top of the low mountain overlooking the cape there is a small church dedicated to Jesus Christ's Transfiguration; from here the visitor enjoys a fascinating view of the Libyan Sea.
At the Northeast of the cape there is the cave of Aghia Kassiani; according to the religious tradition the saint lived here as an hermit and named the cave after her.

Finally, it is worth visiting the scenic cove of Vathy, some 17 kilometres far from Sivas at the South. The landscape is marvellous and the beach amazing. Traces of Minoan tombs have been found in the area.

Don't miss to visit the ecological farm of the village, with many fruit trees, herbs and, of course, olive trees. The farm has been established by the pupils and teachers of the elementary school of the village, an very important activity, initiating children to ecology.

A series of cultural activities are organised at Sivas by the cultural centre "Themos Cornaros"; the events take place in late August and reach their peak on the 29th of August, at the feast of Aghios Ioannis. Concerts, theatric plays, conferences are some of the events included in the program, while on the 29th a local feast ("panighyri") takes place, where the people enjoy in the traditional way.
Another local feast ("panighyri") takes place on the 15th of August at the Monastery of Panaghia Odigitria in honour of the the Assumption of Virgin Mary.

The village offers accommodation facilities in studios and rooms to let. In the local taverns, the restaurants and the traditional cafes of the village the visitor will enjoy good food and drink. And, if you... can't leave without swimming, the beaches of Matala, Kommos, Vathy and Aghiofarango are close enough to satisfy your desire.

Access from Heraklion is possible by public bus, runnging frequently enough, as well as by rented and private cars and motorbikes.

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