Mires Μοίρες is a busy local market town of population 10,000 south of Iraklion by 50 km. It has a large market every Saturday and is located at the centre of the fertile Messara valley, an area steeped in history and really at the heart of Crete.
The Messara has been fought over and cherished for thousands of years, and still today boasts miles and miles of olives groves, vines, mandarins, lemons, greenhouses and just about every vegetable you could think of. This is what makes the trip here worth while, to see the abundance and select for yourself from the cornucopia on offer.
On the outskirts of town are the ruin of the ancient Minoan palace of Phaistos. Considered the second most important archaeological site on the island after Knossos, this beautiful site is 8 km south of town. The Minoan Palace site has sweeping views of the Messara and Psiloritis foothills.
The Roman ruin of Gortyna (left) is located 1.5 km south of Agoi Deka or 7 km north from town. This is the site of the richest city on the island during the Roman dominated period from first to fifth centuries AD.
Panagía Kaliviani Orphanage
Other local sightseeing includes the Panagía Kaliviani church
built during the second Byzantine period and painted with frescoes. The
orphanage, also on the grounds, was built in 1958.
The church is open to
visitors and there is a small interesting shop with local handicrafts - proceeds go towards the
monastery and orphanage. It is 1 km before town on the national road.
The Odigítrias Monastery in the hills of Festis, just 11 km from town, is very interesting to visit, with immaculate white-washed walls, historic displays and the important Tower of Xopateras. This is the scene of one of the heroes during the Turkish occupation, an ex-priest Ioannis Markakis, who defended the tower with a small number of Cretans against thousands of Turks before finally being killed.
Also nearby this monastery are Minoan ruins, tholos tombs discovered in the late 70s and dating from 2000 BC.
Driving on further south from the monastery, discover Agio Farago Gorge ending in Agio Farago Beach (above), or take the road to Kali Limenes Beach. The name means Gorge of the Saints and was used by hermits for seclusion who met annually at the Agios Andonios church in the gorge.
The distance from the monastery on the rocky dirt road south is 6 km, turning right to Agio Farago Gorge or keeping straight on to Kali Limenes. The distance from the road where you can park, walking through the gorge to the beach is 1.5km.
There is an impressive new bus station, travellers need to be aware and watch out as the buses might not be announced and arrive and depart on both sides of the station because of the split in the main road through town. Work out what side of the road your bus is going to leave from well ahead of time.
Listen to local Moires radio station 97.1 FM live on the internet, just click the logo above or visit www.radiomires.gr You can hear traditional Kritiki musiki.