If you are an outdoorsy person and you love tradition, visit Kato Asites, built at the foot of Mount Psiloritis. Browse the picturesque alleys of the village, see the heroes’ memorials that have been erected and meet people who still practice the profession of livestock bell maker or basket weaver. Explore the rich natural and morphological environment, walk to the mountain refuge “Prinos” and visit one of the caves in the area. The village is also famous for its rich livestock production, so be sure to taste “apaki ”, sausage or the traditional “pichti”/ “tsiladia” made from meat preserved in jelly with lots of spices. The Cultural Association organizes annual traditional festivals, in honor of St. George (April 23 & November 3), on the feast of Klidonas (June 24) and cultural events (July 19 to 26) culminating in the great Cretan feast on the day of St. Paraskevi (July 26). So, if you are in the area on one of these dates, do not hesitate to have fun with the locals, creating unforgettable memories!
Roman baths of Sinaitas
Near the settlement of Kato Asites, there are baths dating back to Roman times (67 BC-330 AD). Specifically, the baths were found in the “Sinaitas” area, where the ancient city of Rizinia was located. There is no information available about the village during the second Byzantine period (961 -1204 AD). It is most likely that during these years, the Roman baths were transformed into a temple dedicated to St. Catherine. This is a quiet period, which ends with the occupation of Crete by the Venetians in 1204 AD.
Gorgolaini Monastery Museum
A visitable Historical-Folklore Museum is located within the premises of the Monastery of St. George Gorgolainis.
Prinos Mountain Shelter
For all those who love hiking and mountaineering, Kato Asites is an ideal destination. The climb to the mountain shelter “Prinos” of Psiloritis is a challenge for visitors who want to walk on the highest mountain of Crete. The shelter is located at an altitude of 1100m and the route to it is ascending rather steeply. The shelter has a rainwater tank and you can warm yourself up, using the wood-burning stove.
Lestas Cave and Melissa Cave
In the settlement of Kato Asites, there are two caves of special beauty. The Lestas Cave at Marias Aloni and the Melissa Cave above the Monastery of St. George Gorgolainis.
Monasteries – Temples
Monastery of St. George Gorgolainis
The Holy Monastery of St. George Gorgolainis is built in a lush location with tall plane and cypress trees, two of which have been designated protected natural monuments. The church, which is dedicated to St. George, was built in the 16th century; belonging to the same age was the relief fountain with the winged lion that was a symbol of the Republic of Venice, which has been stolen. The monastery survived catastrophes mainly in the years 1821 and 1866, as it was a stronghold of revolutionaries against the Ottomans. Rebel leader “Captain” Fragias Mastrachas was killed there in 1848; you can see a bust of him in the courtyard of the Monastery. The old buildings have now been preserved and the monastery is a great pilgrimage site for the faithful. After enjoying your walk in the churchyard, you can visit the Historical-Folklore Museum, which is hosted in the same place.
Church of St. Paraskevi
In the center of the village, there is the church of St. Paraskevi. It is a single-aisled small basilica , which was built in 1745 and has been restored, in order to show its excellent stonework. Above the main door, there is a stone sculpture, in which St. Paraskevi is depicted holding the cross in one hand and a palm branch in the other, which is a sign of victory and immortality. Finally, within the church, the Service of the Paraclesis (Intercessory Prayer) to the Virgin Mary is performed daily by women from 1974 until today.
Τhe area of Asites consists of olive groves and vineyards, so it is no coincidence that among the products produced in the area olive oil, raisins and wine have a significant role. Visit the Diamantakis winery located nearby, to explore the Cretan vineyards and taste wine. At the same time, the flora of the area is of great interest, such as brushwood, shrubs, cottonwood, cypresses, oaks, etc., ensuring the quality of the products produced, such as pure meats, smoked sausage or “apaki ”, “mizithra ”, “cheese”, etc. Visit the active Women’s Cooperative to try as well as purchase various spoon sweets and fine bakery wares, such as “kalitsounia ”, “sarikopites ”, barley rusk, sourdough bread made from local ingredients and pure virgin olive oil, without any preservatives.
Visit the active Women’s Cooperative “Asitiana Edesmata” founded by seven women of the village, with the aim of maintaining the tradition and recipes taught to them by their mothers and grandmothers. Try and get various spoon sweets and fine bakery wares, such as “kalitsounia ”, “sarikopites ”, barley rusk, bread with sourdough and dunking biscuits of various flavors made from local ingredients and pure virgin olive oil that will be unforgettable!!!
Household – Traditional Occupations
In Asites you will also find many of the professions of the past that tend to disappear in modern times, such as carpenters, jewelers, tinners , makers of traditional musical instruments, barbers, weavers, soap makers, shoemakers and religious iconographers. You will have the opportunity to see up close the traditional way of practicing them, discuss with the professionals and purchase the fruits of their labour.