The village of Margarites Μαργαρίτες, is 30 km south east from
town in the centre of the island of Crete in Greece.
Located in picturesque green rolling hills, the village is well known for its pottery, and attracts large tour buses in the busy season. After the rushed tourists have left, it is then possible to stroll around this very charming village and enjoy the many pottery studios.
The tradition of pottery goes back many generations in this village and
you will be able to find an elder to show you how the pots are hand
The village, which has some extraordinary architecture and lovely narrow winding streets, is well worth exploring.
The church of Agios Ioannis Theologos has frescoes from 1383.
There are Venetian doorways, Byzantine churches and plenty of cafés to relax in, perhaps to try a Greek coffee.
In Margarites you will find authentic accommodation run by generous and hospitable locals. Such a small hotel is I Velanidia, which has a taverna with great views of the local countryside and traditional Cretan food.
See the mouth-watering menu at www.belanidiahotel.gr which includes skordalia, courgette balls, broad beans, black eyed beans, stuffed vine leaves and fried snails… and those are just the mezedakia!
Thank you to Yiannis Makrakis for this beautiful photograph (right).
The neighbouring village of Tzanakiana is also very pleasant to visit, perhaps to stay a while at the beautiful House of Kourites, a traditional pension.
The nearby Melidoni Cave has a rich history. Artefacts from the cave are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon. The myths surrounding the cave include the extraordinary story of Talos, a bronze giant. This creature circled Crete twice every day throwing rocks at invaders and pirates. The myth says that Medea, an enchantress, removed his special thorn and he bled to death.
Other myths tell of his encounters with Jason and the Argonauts.
Melidoni Cave also has a tomb and a plaque marking the death of 340 Cretan men, women and children killed by the Turks in 1824. The people had hidden in the cave and refused to surrender. The Turks lit a fire and all were asphyxiated.
Eleftherna, (above) a Dorian and later Roman settlement, is 5
km from the village. This historic site is spectacular and surrounded by
hills and gorges. There are remains of a fortified tower from Hellenic
and Byzantine eras. Not well known on the tourist routes, you will be
able to wander with plenty of space and time to enjoy nature and
Arkadi Monastery is 16 kms from here, through rolling hills and gorge country. This active monastery is well worth a visit for the architecture alone, yet it tells one of the most compelling stories of Crete's rebellious history.