5. HANIA - KISSAMOS (see Map Crete Hania Chania)
Kasteli, officially Kissamos or Kasteli Kissamou (Kasteli of
Kissamos), is the major town of the Kissamos county and has
developed into a fairly large place with plenty of conveniences.
This development is due to the fruit and juice canning industry,
the vineyards, the well-selling olive oil as well as other agricultural
Map of Crete. Kissamos (Kasteli)
It is also due to the many tourists it attracts without even
having sights or beaches. The reason for this is its harbour
and the boat lines to and from Githio and Kalamata at the south
end of the Peloponnese. Most foreign tourists who arrive from
their countries to the port of Patras, and especially the German
bikers, find it very convenient that they can board a ship in
the Peloponnese and get off in Crete. In this way they do not
only avoid the unpleasant journey to Piraeus and the jungle
of Athens, but they also get to explore Crete without having
to go back and forth, because the ship docks at the westernmost
port of the island.
The town has a history of at least 2500 years behind it. In
antiquity it was called Kissamos and it served as the seaport
of ancient Polirrinia.
It flourished from the classical times till the Roman period
and was a close ally of the Romans, which is why they did not
only spare it when they conquered other Greek towns but they
even adorned it with many public buildings. These included a
large theatre, public baths, and a large aqueduct which provides
the town with water to this day! In addition, the Romans built
many luxurious villas.
Today, foundations of Roman villas are quite frequently discovered
in the town’s building sites, and many of the finest floor
mosaics have come to light, dating from the 2nd and 3rd century
AD. One of these is in the archaeological site right behind
the Health Centre of the town.
Kissamos has been well fortified throughout its history, because
its close proximity to the sea and its considerable wealth invited
Crete, Polyrrinia or Polyrinia
Those who built the strongest walls, though, are the Venetians,
who were masters in the art of fortifying a town. The Venetian
Rule spanned the period between 1204 and 1664 AD, and the Castelo,
built from the very first days of it, became a landmark of the
town, which was thence called Kasteli. (They also named it Kasteli
Kissamou in an effort to distinguish it from the dozens of other
Kastelis all over Crete). During its long history the town was
besieged countless times, so the famous Castelo was often destroyed
and rebuilt. What survives of it today is a jumble of parts
built at different historical times. These can be seen just
about anywhere, and unfortunately they have been left to their
fate without the least provision for maintenance.
The port of Kasteli is situated about three kilometres to the
west of the town. As you get off the ship and walk on the pier
toward the shore, you will see the Rodopos peninsula to your
left (west) and the Gramvoussa peninsula to your right (east),
where you can also distinguish the country road that runs along
the east side of it (see Route 6). People tend to get off the
ship and immediately start their exploration of Crete, which
is why Kasteli has very few hotels and even fewer restaurants!
On the other hand, there are plenty of grocery stores, since
everyone buys supplies before leaving for the big journey...
If, however, you want to spend a few days at Kasteli to get
a rest and make short day trips in the area (see Routes 6 and
7), your best choice is Vista Del Mar Villas. You will see the
villas on your way to the town about 1.2 kilometres after the
port. They are very cosy, inexpensive and comfortable, and they
come with a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and kitchen, and
a balcony overlooking the sea. You should also know, however,
that they don’t like to rent them for less than three
nights, so if you are planning on making a one-night stop you’d
better look elsewhere.
Camping is another interesting option you have. A few kilometres
to the east of Kasteli you will find two good camping grounds,
so avoid the Kasteli camping, which is noisy, neglected and
situated at the...
backyard of a factory! Take the new road to Hania and after five
kilometres you will see an intersection. The sign at the intersection
points you to the Mithymna Camping (tel. 0822 031.444), a rather
primitive establishment with few luxuries, but with beautiful
trees, lots of shade, peace and quiet, and a large sandy beach
in front of it with a very nice restaurant. In fact, this business
was recently expanded to include... a newly built apartment complex,
so if you change your mind about camping you can always rent an
apartment instead! The second option is Nopigia Camping (tel.
0822 031.111), which is about 1.5 kilometres further to the east.
It, too, has peace and quiet and nice trees for shade. It also
has flowers, common areas that are well looked after, and a large
swimming pool. As you may guess, however, the swimming pool exists
because the beach in front of the hotel is covered with fairly
large stones and is rather uninviting.
Kissamos. Foundations of Roman villas
If you are not particularly fond of organised camping we have
still another suggestion. Continue to the east on the dirtroad
going along the beach, and right after you pass Nopigia Camping
you will run into a fenced pastureland that blocks your way.
Open the door, get in, shut it behind you, and keep going. After
a while you will see a chapel with a covered yard and a small
pebbly beach in front of it. This entire area is ideal for camping;
it’s full of trees, it has a drinking fountain next to
the chapel with cool, refreshing water, and the ground is quite
level allowing you to set up your tent comfortably. For your
camp fire try to use the same spot as the people who were there
before you. Finally, collect your garbage in a plastic bag and
take it with you when you leave, because there are no barrels
|Source of the
information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”,
Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of
Greece, click here.