Apokoronas

Apokoronas is one of the five provinces of Chania Prefecture, in its Northeastern part. During the ancient times the word "Apokoronas" is not at all mentioned. The only thing names that are mentioned are those of the villages of the province.

During the Byzantine Era there is a reference of the name of the region as a village. As a Province it is referred to the Venetian Occupation of Crete, however, without knowing the exact limits of the area at that time. As a toponymy it is mentioned as "Apikonna" in the Convention between the Byzantine General Vatatzis and the Duke of Crete Ioustiani in 1236.

From time to time there had been other names like "Bicorna" and "Bicorno", while the traveller R. Pashley and N. Stavrakakis, believe that there had been an ancient city bearing the name "Hippokoronion". This very city is related to the nowadays village Nippos, in Apokoronas Province.

Stravon refers to the toponymy: Hippokoronion is at Adramytinis and Hippokoronion is at Crete. It is also believed that Apokoronas is the name of a city, located two miles Southwest from Neo Horio in Apokoronas, over the hill of St. Mamas, where ancient pieces of marble were preserved or West of Kalyves, where the Fortress of Apokorona was situated.

According to Cornelious, Hippokoronion was located at the position of the Fortress Bicorna on the coastal hill, east from Kalyves.Cornelious wrote: "Hippokoronion sive Tanus Hobie Castrum Apricornium". Therefore, Hippokoronion was also called Tanos, a Cretan City, (the inhabitant was called Tanitis), as it is depicted on coins. Tanos was near Kydonia.

Xanthoudidis (Cretan Provinces and Cities EBS, C'. page 56), thinks it is possible that Apokoronas is the successive word of the toponymy Hippokoronion, based on a chapter of Stef. Byzantine claiming that there is a place in Crete called Korion, which might be Kourna's Lake and the sanctuary Hippokorion, from which Hippokoronion came. K. Dounakis (History of Apokoronas Province, issue 171, page 242), claims there had been an ancient city called Hippokoronas, situated at the place where the ancient city of Aptera was built later. It is also believed that the name "Apokoronas" came from the words from (Apo) and crown (korona), as the Province used to be the particular colony of the crown of the Byzantine Emperors.

There is evidence proving that human presence has been spotted in Apokoronas since the Neolithic Period, which is 8-6.000 years Before Christ. Such a spot is Melidoni, where archaeological remains were found and a place between the villages of Samonas and Stylos where some houses of the same era were found. Beyond Aptera, archaeologists revealed post-Minoan tombs, with many chamber pots and a magnificent arched tomb, whereas the ruins of a ceramics furnace and other remains of the same era were found in Stylos. Finally, an arched tomb and other valuable pieces of the same era were discovered near the village Filaki. It's worth mentioning some other old cities as well as some of the contemporary ones.

MORPHOLOGY

Apokoronas has a total area of 313 square kilometers. The proportional distribution is as follows: lowland 98, semi-mountainous 103 and mountainous 112. Apokoronas population, according to the 2001 census is 12.623 inhabitants. Apokoronas consists of five Municipalities: Armenoi (3.268 inhabitants), Vamos (2864 inhabitants), Georgioupoli (2421 inhabitants), Kryonerida (2386 inhabitants), Fre (1100 inhabitant and of the Community of Asi Gonia (582 inhabitants). The total number of villages in Apokorona Province is 75.

The geographic position of Apokoronas is considered to be of great importance since it is the "bridge" of Chania to the rest of the Prefectures of Crete. The South part of Souda ends in Apokorona and there is the Bay of Almyros or Georgioupoli. There are also two capes: the one of Souda and the other of Drapanos. The main mountainous part of Apokoronas is covered by the White Mountain chain. Apokoronas is crossed by the rivers of Kiliaris (or Pyknos during ancient times), Xydias or Xydes, Vryssanos or Mpoutakas, Almyros and Delfinas. In Apokoronas, there are many exciting gorges as well like Diktammos -beginning in Katohori - Keramion and ending near the village of Stylos - St. Nicola's - Channel gorge between the villages of Ramni and Maheron and Asi Gonia.

213 caves of great historic and environmental value have been recorded in Apokoronas up to now.

Armenoi

Armenoi is a village covered in green, with many planetrees. Its many rich fountains provide water to a big part of Apokoronas Province. Armenians serving the army of Nikiforos Fokas (Liberation of Crete from the Arabs) first inhabited it in 961 A.C.

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Ebrosneros

Ebrosneros is a picturesque village surrounded by oaks. At the edge of the village the guest can see the renovated tower of Alithakis, a horrible Turkish Pasha. Sfakia rebels and their leader Manousakas slaughtered Alithakis and his tower was burned down. Many traditional beautiful villages -worth being seen- like Kastelos, Patina and Fylaki are all around Embrosneros. An impressive Minoan tomb was discovered in Fylaki. The tomb has a long corridor and a square chamber, it is built with huge stones and has a pyramidal roof.

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Kefalas

Kefalas  is located Northeast of Vamos and it is a village rich in traditional architecture. Its name is derived from Kefalades, the leaders of the Byzantine colonists, sent by Al. Komninos in 1182 to Crete. Ombrosgialos (frontal seaside) is a fantastic rocky beach, with a small traditional tavern Northeast of Kefalas.

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Vamos

It is a traditional provincial city, the capital of the region of Apokoronas, with many public services. According to unacknowledged historical sources, Saracen pirates had initially inhabited Vamos during the 8th century AC. Vamos had been the capital of the Sfakia region during the second half of the 19th century. Southeast of Vamos, at a place called Karydi, there is St. George's Monastery where the Basilica is preserved and there are still remains of the cells and of the olive-mill of the Monastery, famous for its wonderful domes.

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Gavalohori

It is a traditional village that took its name from the noble Byzantine family of Gavalades. The family took possession of the village when Crete was distributed to the 12 noblemen of Byzantine in 1182. In a distance of 500 meters from the village, many of the well-known Gavaliana wells are preserved. Gavalohori has a Folklore Museum and there is also a textile and embroidery Women' s Association.

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Almyrida

it is a scenic village by the sea with a clean sandy beach. At one end of the village there are ruins of an 11th century basilica church with a mosaic floor in good condition. In Almyrida during 1896 the last battle against the Turkish occupation took place. In the bay of Almyrida there is a small rocky island called "Karga" which has ruins of an ancient wall built by the Phoenicians.

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Plaka

Plaka is one of the most traditional villages in Crete. It administratively belongs to Hania Prefecture and it is located 23 km away from the city of Hania. Plaka is built on a 70-meter altitude, over the coastal village of Almyrida and has a very healthy climate. Its permanent inhabitants are hardly more than 300 but during the summer population increases rapidly. People in Plaka mainly work on their farms (olive trees, vineyards, and vegetables).

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