Venerato

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Visit the village, which used to be a Venetian resort in the past, explore the alleyways, the central square, and the traditional neighborhoods and admire the imposing Venetian mansions. Travel through time and history via Minoan presses, Byzantine churches and factories, each with its own story to tell. Follow the route to the gorge of Venerato, crossed by the river Apollonas and enjoy nature to the fullest, meeting wild pigeons, waterfalls and watermills. At the end of a verdant route, visit the monastery of Virgin Mary Paliani with the centuries-old myrtle in its courtyard. Do not forget to try pastitsio, moussaka, gemista, and grilled meat in the village tavern or to get rusk, “kalitsounia” and biscuits from the bakery. The traditional Cretan festival on August 14.

MONUMENTS

 
Sculpture Park

The International Sculpture Symposium is held every two years in Venerato. Just before the entrance of the village you will find the Sculpture Park, where you will see various sculptures that have been created as part of the event.

Sakalakis’ residence

Ascend towards the old settlement of Venerato and admire the Sakalakis residence built on the top of a rock, providing an unobstructed view to the plain, but also control of the entire area. The imposing building belongs to the tower house type; it has elements of 19th-20th century traditional architecture and has been declared listed. Notice the imposing, tall main structure, the rectangular layout and the flat and austere sides. The ground floor walls are strong with few openings and have been constructed in such a way that they can be used as crenels, while the entrance is located on the first floor, where the family normally lived

Venetian Megaron Serai

Walk to the southeastern part of the village, where, a house whose outer gate belonged to the “Serai” Venetian Mansion, is, sadly, in a state of collapse. The arched entrance gate is particularly impressive and is the main decorative element of the door, but also of the entire facade. The gate is made of dressed marlstone blocks, while this type of jointing appeared in Early Renaissance Italian architecture around the middle of the 15th century, and became particularly popular in Crete in the 16th and 17th centuries. The rest of the surviving building, to which the door now belongs, is of newer construction.

Chelidonis residence

Visit the Chelidonis residence, which is a typical example of the traditional architecture of the 19th-20th century and see on the ground floor of the house the surviving built press, which confirms the age-long, inextricable relationship of the area with the traditional production of wine.

Tsagaradonis residence

This is a historic house that belonged to rebel leader “Captain” Tsagarantonis from Venerato. Antonios Xenakis, a.k.a. Captain Tsagarantonis (1843-1937) took part in the revolution of 1866-1869 and later in the revolutions of 1878 and 1897 as a leader of Malevizi, next to Captain Korakas. He was elected Mayor of the enlarged Municipality of Daphnes, during the period of the autonomous Cretan State (1898-1910).

Ancient wine presses at Magana

Going up the hill from the northwest side of Paliani Monastery you will find a series of carvings on the natural rock, which imply the construction of wine presses. There are small carved cavities and ducts, while a larger rectangular space contains still preserved sections of masonry. It therefore appears that it was a covered structure and the whole installation was a combination of carved and built elements. In the Cretan countryside there are many presses, dating them however is difficult, as the same construction could have been used in several different periods.

St. Mamas’ spring

On the way to the Holy Monastery of Paliani take a minute to admire and cool off in the fountain of St. Mamas. Nearby is the church of the same name, but also the place where the sculpture “Anthill” has been placed, a work dedicated to nature by Nikos Petinarakis and Nikoletta Katsamberi; it was created within the framework of the International Sculpture Symposium held in Venerato in 2011.

SCENIC ROUTES

 
Gorge of Venerato

Walk the verdant gorge of Venerato that starts from Agia Eirini and ends at the church of St. Fanourios, which is built under the rock. Cool off on the Apollonas River that flows through the gorge and move on, admiring the dense vegetation until you meet the old watermill. After passing the point where the gorge narrows and its walls rise up to 25 m., you will find the cave Gra Spiliara, where many wild pigeons nest, as well as impressive waterfalls. Κeep in mind that despite its relatively short length, the gorge is quite challenging in places, so if you wish to cross it, seek the assistance of experienced villagers.

MONASTERIES-TEMPLES

 
Chapel of St. Ioannis

Visit the chapel of St. Ioannis which is located east of the main square and was built during the reign of Nikiforos Fokas. There, you will have the opportunity to sit on “the lovers’ bench”, which was created as part of the international sculpture symposium, and enjoy the unobstructed view of the vast olive groves and vineyards and the Lassithi mountains.

Monastery of Panagia Paliani

Drive the lush green road that leads to the Monastery of Panagia Paliani, ascend to an altitude of 280 m. and you will see one of the oldest monasteries in Crete (6th century). Its name is associated with the name “Old Monastery” (Palaea Moni), which over the centuries became “Paliani”. According to another version, its name is associated with the ancient city of Apollonia, which is said to have been built nearby. The monastery surrounds a large courtyard with colorful flowers, in the center of which is the main church, a three-aisled basilica from the 14th century, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin (celebrated on August 15), the Three Hierarchs (January 30) and St. Panteleimonas (July 27), while there is also a small chapel of the Holy Apostles (June 30). In the same place, you can visit the museum that houses icons, sacred relics and various books of great historical and archaeological value. Finally, take a closer look at the myrtle tree, which according to religious tradition is miraculous and an icon of Virgin Mary was found in its braided trunk.

St. Fanourios

Visit the church of St. Fanourios which is built at the entrance of the gorge of the same name under an imposing rock. Combine your visit with a walk in nature, in the dense vegetation of the banks of the river Apollonas. In fact, very close to the temple you will see a plentiful spring that is now used to supply water to the village.

St. Nikolaos

Visit the chapel of St. Nikolaos which sits imposingly on top of a rock between Venerato and the Monastery of Paliani, where the citadel of the old town of Pala used to be. Climb the carved stone steps and admire the unobstructed view in all directions.

GASTRONOMY

In Venerato the main occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture, mainly viticulture, olive growing. So, try in the village tavern wine or raki accompanied by traditional dishes, such as pastitsio, moussaka, gemista, dolmades avgolemono (=stuffed vine leaves with egg-lemon sauce), and various grilled meats. Visit one of the rakokazana of the area to see up close the way of making tsikoudia, to try, but also to enjoy yourself together with the locals. Finally, take a tour of a winery and gain an incredible experience, tasting different varieties of wine from organically grown grapes.

COTTAGE INDUSTRY-TRADITIONAL OCCUPATIONS

Wander the alleys of the village and discover traditional aspects of everyday life that will take you back in time! Visit people who lovingly practise until today professions that tend to disappear. Take a closer look at the making of carved wood objects and meet religious iconographers and jewelers who will speak to you with great willingness about their art and products!

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