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The mythical village of Anogia in Crete
The mythical village of Anogia in Crete is located about 66 kilometres east of Rethymnon and about 48 kilometres west of Heraklion. Anogia, also spelled Anogeia, is one of my favourite villages in Crete. Other villages in Crete that I like a lot are Mochlos, Kato Zakros, Chora Sfakion, Agios Pavlos and Tzermiado. What these villages have in common is that they are small, and that Greek everyday life dominates.
View of Anogia and Mount Psiloritis.
One thing that is special about Anogia is that the village is one of the "coldest" in all of Greece. Greek Meteo lists every day the five coldest and the five warmest places in Greece. Anogia is always among the five coldest, usually the coldest village, together with the village of Metsovo in the region of Epirus. So when the extreme heat waves are ravaging Greece, Anogia is where you should go to escape the heat.
Men in black in Anogia.
Almost all men in Anogia are dressed in black from head to foot, even their big cars are black. Of course, everyone has a moustache, and wears high (black) boots. You get scared just thinking about it, don't you? I'm just kidding, the residents of Anogia are just as friendly as everyone else in Crete. But they are dressed in black. :-)
Anogia is not a pretty village, it is a genuine village where time has stood still.
Anogia is said to be the last village in Crete to become civilized. True or not, I leave unsaid. What is true is that the inhabitants of Anogia are known for their rebellious spirit and their determination to express their Cretan character. Anogia was the base for parts of the resistance movement during the second world war, and the village had to pay dearly for that.
One of many war monuments in Anogia.
After the German general Kreipe had been kidnapped outside Archanes (just south of Heraklion) in May 1944, the kidnappers (together with the general) hid for a while in Anogia. As reprisal, the Nazis emptied the village (a number of the inhabitants were executed) and laid Anogia in ruins. The villagers returned after the war and rebuilt the village.
Anogia of today is calm and quiet. The village has a tremendously beautiful location at the foot of Mount Psiloritis, also known as Mount Ida. The village is divided into an upper and a lower part. Most of the village life revolves around the square in the lower part.
Most of Anogia revolves around the square in the lower part of the village.
The square in Anogia in the evening.
In and around the square are a number of tavernas and cafes, as well as shops selling hand-woven textiles. Anogia is known throughout Crete for its hand-woven carpets and embroidered textiles. Embroidering black-clad women sits here, there and everywhere. Thanks to the renown, bus loads of tourists comes to Anogia every day.
Anogia is known for its hand-woven carpets and textiles.
If you like textile crafts, you will love Anogia.
When it comes to tavernas and restaurants, there are more than you first think. Almost everyone has grilled lamb as specialty. The largest range is in the lower part of the village. In the square there are several tavernas with large grills where lambs rotates on long spits.
Grilled lamb is the specialty of Anogia. Grilled by "Men in black".
One of the restaurants in the upper part of Anogia.
In the square there is also a small museum dedicated to the mythical singer Nikos Xylouris, who died in cancer in 1980 only 55 years old. He is called both "The Voice of Crete" and "The Archangel of Crete". None of us non-Greeks can understand how prominent he was in Greece during his lifetime, and in fact still is, something that is clearly noticeable in Anogia where the museum is located, where he stands statue and where he has a theatre named after him.
Nikos Xylouris museum in the square of Anogia.
You might think that the inhabitants of this tight-knit village are unfriendly. But it's just the opposite, they are extremely friendly and very hospitable. Even the older men dressed in black are very nice, even if they don't know much English. As we sat in the square one evening, I ordered a glass of raki from the man with the black boots pictured below. When he came out, he also brought a glass of raki for my wife Camilla, and he said: "the lady should also have a glass of raki, free of charge of course". :-)
The lady should also have a glass of raki, free of charge of course, sa mannen med de svarta stövlarna.
Waking up early in the morning, putting the coffee on and going out on the balcony and watching the surrounding mountains wake up, and hearing the coffee maker bubbling from inside the kitchen, that feeling is hard to beat. Anogia is such a village, a village made for everyone who likes the sound of bubbling coffee makers and quiet peaceful mornings.
Sunrise with coffee at Hotel Aristea in Anogia.
ACCOMMODATION IN ANOGIA
Anogia is worth more than just a short visit. One should stay overnight to be able to get to feel the atmosphere in this particular village. If you stay overnight in Anogia you will also have time to do other things, like driving up to the Nida plateau and the famous Idaion Cave. Also, don't miss Sendoni Cave located in the village of Zoniana near Anogia.
If you stay overnight, you will get beautiful mornings like these.
Our favourite hotel in Anogia is Hotel Aristea. Should it be full there, I can recommend Hotel Marina. Another good option is Melissa Apartments.
WHAT YOU MUST NOT MISS WHEN YOU VISIT ANOGIA