in Mochlos and surrounding
Minoan site of Mochlos
The excavations: The American archaeologist R. B. Seager discovered Mochlos in 1907 on the suggestion of a local fisherman. The following year he started excavating the small island uncovering 20 pit graves and 12 settlements. In 1955, J. Leatham and S. Hood while having an underwater exploration, they discovered some Roman fish tanks at the coast opposite the island of Mochlos, verifying the assumption of Seager that Mochlos was a peninsula during the Bronze Age. In 1970, through the cleaning and the recent investigation outside the previously excavated area, many significant findings were uncovered, while extended excavating investigations were carried out from 1989 to 1994, under the direction of professors K. Davaras and J. Soles.
Early Minoan period: According to the excavation findings, the island or Mochlos was firstly occupied during the Early Minoan I period. Although, at that time the settlement was still small, the arrival of newcomers, perhaps from Central Crete, expanded the area during the Early Minoan II period. During the Early Minoan period III the settlement became one of the most significant centers of the Minoan civilization. The plain on the land provided rich agricultural production and the narrow channel that joined in antiquity the today's island and the mainland, forming in that way two natural harbors, used to protect the vessels from acute weather conditions. Mochlos served as a center of commerce transport. Obsidian was imported from the island of Milos, and other raw materials were imported from East and channeled afterwards to the whole island of Crete. The discovery of a round seal that is believed to be from north Syria and dates to the 18th century B.C. confirms the importance of this harbor. Gold jewels, signets, and the famous stone vases of Mochlos were made at the "artisans' quarter". Many of those items were found in graves of this period. The cemetery of the Early Minoan period is located at the west of the island and is one of the most important of the east Crete. The most prominent graves were monumental and their construction resembled that of houses. They included gold jewels, signets, earthen and stone vases of exceptional craft, which are now exhibited at the Museums of Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. The figures of some vases are quite similar with those of the Egyptian style, reinforcing the evidence of the relations between Crete and Egypt since the Early Minoan period. The cemetery on the island was in use until the Middle Minoan period.
Late Minoan period: The town in Mochlos was rebuilt and expanded after the destruction that was caused by the eruption of the volcano on Thira during the Late Minoan IA period. That was proved by the excavations when a layer of volcanic ash was uncovered underneath the floor and the walls of a house. The town planning system of Mochlos was the same as those of other Minoan towns, such as Psira and Gournia. The newly built town had central streets and other smaller ones that divided the town into quarters. The houses were built on various levels, depending on the incline of the ground, and consisted of two or three floors. The sandstone blocks that were used for their construction were taken from the ravine of Vagia, at the east of the modern settlement, which used to act as a quarry during the Late Minoan IB period. The inhabitants of Gournia were supplied with construction materials from the same quarry for the building of the "palace" in their town. Great changes took place during the Late Minoan III period. The size of the town had considerably decreased and the old houses were repaired and reoccupied. Even the burial patterns changed. The tombs now resemble cabins and are sculptured in the mild slopes of the hills. The dead corpses are put into earthen urns and earthenware jars along with their funeral gifts. The cemetery of that period was located at Limenaria, at the west of the modern settlement, where thirty graves, which were not looted, were excavated, including more than a hundred vases of great craft.
Hellenistic period: The last phase of the extended occupation of the island is represented by a fortification at the north and east side of it, that dates from the 1st century B.C. This fortification was perhaps an attempt made by the city of Ierapetra, in order to stabilize its presence at that period at the north coast of Crete.
The oldest olive tree in Crete
The olive tree and olive oil are closely connected to Cretan mythology, history, tradition, religion, and art, as well as the social and economic life of Cretan people dating back 9.000 years. Nowadays, olive groves cover about 1/4 of the total area of the island dominating its natural environment and creating employment for almost the entire local agricultural population. Among the Olive trees of Crete, exist some which can be characterized as "Monumental". This olive-tree has been classed as monumental by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities (SEDIK) due to the large size of its trunk, and due to its vicinity to the ancient settlements of "Vrontas", "Kastro", and "Azoria" of the Late Minoan IIIC and down to the Archaic phase (1350-500 BC) where several artifacts related to olive oil have been uncovered.
The olive tree is located on the site of "Azorias", about ten kilometers of Mochlos. From Mochlos, join the main road towards Agios Nikolaos. At the entrance of Kavousi, take the first left after a small bridge (at the foot of the descent of Platanos) and follow the plates "Old Olive Tree" (at coordinates 35°06'54.78"N - 25°51'40.43"E and at an elevation of 252 m).
In 2008 it belonged to G. Grammatikaki.
It is a tree of Olea Europea of the variety "Mastoïdis", which is locally named "Muratolia", and is grafted on a rootstock of a wild olive tree (Olea Europea - variety "Oleaster").
The dimensions of the tree trunk measured at height of 0.8m (shown on Tab.1) and mainly its largest dlameter. (4,90m) and its perimeter (14,20m) allow a rough estimation of its age, according to the approximate estimation of the olive-chronology method with the annual growth rings (Michelakis N. 2002).
According to this method and considering an annual radial growth rate of the trunk about considering an annual radial growth rate of the trunk about 0,75mm/year, the age of this tree is estimated at about 3250 years BP. This estimated age marks the first appearance of the tree in the Post-Palatial Minoean Period of the Cretan history (1350-1100 BC).
In 2004, the inhabitants of the region of lerapetra suggested the first female winner of the Marathon run at the Athens Olympic Games 2004 would be wreathed by a special ceremony to which official representatives of the State and the Church at tented, together with many peoples.
"Monumental" olive tree of Kavousi: 35°06'54.78"N / 25°51'40.43"E
The Richti's Gorge
A beautiful walk through a "Mediterranean jungle", where water flows in abundance throughout the year.
The Richtis' Gorge is located below the village of Exo Mouliana and only a few miles from Mochlos. The easiest way to access it, is coming from Mochlos (towards Sitia), pass the village of Exo Mouliana, and after 300-400 meters you will see a plaque on the left indicating the throat.
The starting point is the stone-arced bridge of Lachanas.
The walk is along a small river that you need sometimes to cross and a "Mediterranean jungle" real and amazing. The focus of the ride is arguably its waterfall of 15 meters which flows all year. At the foot of the waterfall you can even swim in a small pool but be careful, the water is cool enough ... The walk is + / - 4.5 km by 350 meters of ascent to reach the pebble beach of Richtis. Before the beach you will find a place with tamarisk trees to rest in the shade. There is also a water fountain, benches and tables and even a barbecue.
If you want to do this amazing hiking with a guide, contact Anne Lebrun.
The Richti's Gorge: Bridge of Lachanas - 35°10'08.97" N / 25°59'35.05" E
Be careful, there is a bit of climbing, bring good shoes!
Beautiful little village, flowered, fragrant, ... Lastros is located just above Mochlos and just between the two roads of the National 90/E75 leading to Mochlos village.
The Vultures of Mochlos
Admire the vultures on the hills of Mochlos accompanied by a guide.
Contact Yannis, he will take you there with his 4X4.
Guide "Yannis Petrakis": +30/69 45 57 82 57
On the heights of Sfaka, one can find old wells called "λίμνες" ("limnes": lakes).
They were built by hand by people from Sfaka a few decades ago, in order to have water for their gardens and orchards throughout the year.
They are still in use.
Guide "Yannis Petrakis": +30/69 45 57 82 57 - Location: 35°08'10.80" N / 25°55'50.98" E / Elev. 693M
The Venetian Tower
The tower is located northeast of the village of Myrsini and annexed to the church of St. Anthony.
During Venetian and Ottoman periods, the tower and surrounding buildings formed the village of St. Anthony.
The tower is still called by many Myrsiniotes "Kornarou Tower".
Location: 35°10'38.38"N / 25°56'51.97"E / Elev. 105M
Spinalonga or Leper Island
The island of Spinalonga (official name Kalidon) is located in the eastern part of Crete, near the town of Elounda. Harking back to the Venetian occupation, the name Spinalonga is Italian, meaning "long thorn".
History: In 1579, the Venetians built a fortress on Spinalonga over the ruins of an acropolis. They kept control of the island until the Ottoman Empire took possession of it in 1715. The island is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, being used in this manner from 1903 until 1957. The last inhabitant, a priest, left in 1962. This was to maintain the religious tradition of the Greek Orthodox church, in which a buried person has to be commemorated 40 days, 6 months, 1, 3 and 5 years after their death.
There are two entrances to Spinalonga, one being the lepers' entrance, a tunnel known as Dante's Gate. This was so named because the patients did not know what was going to happen to them once they arrived. However, once on the island they received food, water, medical attention and social security payments. Previously, such amenities had been unavailable to Crete's leprosy patients, as they mostly lived in the area's caves, away from civilization, eating scraps left over by the wolves who shared their caves.
Spinalonga Today: Today, the unoccupied island is one of the main tourist attractions in Crete. In addition to the abandoned leper colony and the fortress, Spinalonga is known for its small pebble beaches. The island can easily be accessed from Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. Tourist boats depart from both towns on a daily basis. There is no accommodation on Spinalonga, meaning all tours last only a few hours. Boat trips from Elounda take approximately fifteen minutes while trips departing Agios Nikolaos can take upwards of one hour.
Location: 35°17'50.67"N / 25°44'16.60"E - Front of Plaka village - 5km North of Elounda
Located 53 km from Mochlos and between Sitia and Vai, Moni Toplou (Modern Greek: Μονή Τοπλού) is a fifteenth-century monastery. The monastery was originally called Panagia Akrotiriani (Virgin Mary of the Cape), after the nearby Sidero cape. Its current name literally means "with the cannonball", thus called by the Turks for the cannon and cannonballs (Turkish: top) it had in its possession for defensive purposes.
Location: 35°13'17.12" N / 26°12'58.38" E
Vaï and Itanos
Location: VAI: 35°15'16.39" N / 26°15'53.29" E ITANOS: 35°15'43.91" N / 26°15'50.46" E