Discover Agia Galini...on Foot
The fifth book in the serie Discover...on Foot has 9 easy country walks in the area of Agia Galini, Melampes, Apodoulou and Platanos in the south part of the Prefecture of Rethymno. Walking in the area of Agia Galini with this book gives you also lot of extra information about the villages, history and the area. Many beautiful pictures and detailed walking maps make this book complete.
This walking guidebook is locally available in different shops and hotels in Agia Galini. You can also order the book through this website (Webshop).
See some example pages of the book and pictures of Agia Galini at: Pictures
The village of Agia Galini
Fisherman in Agia Galini
Nice street in Agia Galini
Icarus and Deadalus
Welcome back to Agia Galini
Extra information about this beautiful village in South Crete you find on the website:
Another very good and informative website about Agia Galini is: www.gogalini.com
The village of Agia Galini belongs to the municipality of Agios Vasilios and is located on the south coast of the Prefecture of Rethymno. It is located 61 km southeast of Rethymno and 68 km southwest of Iraklion, at the southernmost point of the Libyan Sea with a view over the Messara Bay. The village has about 700 permanent inhabitants but in the summer season it can accommodate up to 2.500 peolpe.
The fact that the houses of the village are built as an amphitheatre on the surrounding hills makes it a special place, offering a wonderful view of the port and Messara Bay, while equally impressive for the visitor is the view from the port to the village. The steep, almost vertically cut rocks dominate the landscape, a mark of prehistorically geological changes. The village has got a big bay-like beach, which is protected from the winds.
The history of Agia Galini goes back millennia, as does that of most places in Crete. Today’s Agia Galini settlement is built on the ancient Minoan city of Soulia, one of the one hundred cities of Crete described by Homer. It was a center of worship with a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. A few finds from the ancient city were discovered during excavations for the foundations of new houses. Soulia, as a coastal city, suffered from raids by Arab pirates, who destroyed it in 640 AD. Remnants of this city and the temple, such as buildings, tombs, marbles and two granite pillars, which still ornament the church of the village, have been discovered in Agia Galini.
The harbour flourished for a second time in the Venetian period, and later it was used several times for resupplying (especially ammunition) during the revolutions of 1821 and 1866 against the Turks. Later, as it was the nearest port to the fertile and oil-producing area of Ampadia and Melambes, it was used for loading olive oil and other products on to ships. At that time there were no permanent inhabitants at Agia Galini.
The settlement of Agia Galini was established in 1884, when buildings, olive oil storehouses and some residences were built for trading purposes. The first inhabitants were villagers from nearby Melambes and Sachtouria. Through the years, the trade and export of olive oil increased substantially and thus customs were established there. After some years (1890) 20 people were living permanently in the settlement.
The protecting Saints of Agia Galini are the Four Martyrs. They were named Georgios, Agelis, Manouil and Nikolaos and they were from the village of Melambes. They were slaughtered by the Turkish commander of Rethymno because they were Christians. To honour this sacrifice, the inhabitants of Agia Galini built a church of the four Martyrs in the first quarter of the 20th century.
The name Agia Galini
The name Agia Galini is rarely used in Greece. In the Orthodox Church Agia Galini is said to have lived and been martyred in Corinth in the 3rd c. AD and her feast day is on 16 April. There are various theories about how Agia Galini got its name and all are based on legends and guesswork.
1. According to the first theory, Agia Galini took its name from the Byzantine empress Eudokia (or from Athinais, daughter of the Athenian philosopher Leontios) that on her journey to the Holy Land by ship was caught in a great storm close to the ancient city of Soulia. The huge waves threatened to sink the ship. Begging the assistance of Virgin Mary, she advised the crew to approach the land and she promised that if the sea went calm she would build a church dedicated to Virgin Mary Galini. The ship safely reached the beach of the village where the sea was always calm, and the Empress started building the church of Panagia Galini (The Virgin of Serenity). This church was located were now is the Byzantine church at the village cemetery.
2. The second theory is that when Christianity was established The Monastery of Galinios Christos (the Serene Christ) was built over the older Temple of Artemis. The village was then named after it.
3. The third theory is that Agia Galini got its name from the phrase "aei galini” ("ever peace”), because the harbour is always calm and peaceful.
Daedalus and Icarus
In Agia Galini is also located the cave of Daedalus, where, according to myth, Daedalus hid himself to protect from the king of Crete Minos. He used the cave as a laboratory and constructed wings from wax. From a hill of Agia Galini he flew to freedom together with his son Icarus. Icarus, however, flew too close to the sun and his wings melted and he crashed and drowned near the island that took its name, Ikaria. Dedalus buried his son on the island, continued his flight and landed to Kimi in Italy. In 1963 a map was drawn of the cave and during WWII the locals took refuge there of the German bombings. Nowadays the locals, with the help of the local cultural society built a small park to honour the legendary Daedalos.
Agia Galini nowadays
From a "secret spot” and just a fishing village with about 500 inhabitants in the 1970s, Agia Galini is nowadays a well known touristic centre of South Crete. Despite the tourists it still maintains its picturesque character and is a very hospitable village. It has many taverns and restaurants. Away from the main road with the tourist shops, in the small alleys, you will find more traditional taverns with home-made food, where some locals enjoy a snack and a glass of raki. On the rock, above the small port, there are many restaurants which have great views over the Messara Bay.Agia Galini is the ideal place if you want to combine mountains and sea. It is a perfect location to discover other nice nearby beaches such as Agios Georgios, Agios Pavlos, Triopetra and the famous palm beach of Preveli. These beaches can also be reached by boat.Away from the coast you can enjoy the real Cretan spirit in the mountain villages of Mt. Kendros and along the South side of the Ida Mountain Rage. Agia Galini is also a good base from where you can visit the nearby famous archaeological sites of Phaestos and Gortyna.
Where to stay?
In Agia Galini there are many hotels, rooms, studios and apartments. There is even a very nice camping with lots of shade and a nice swimming pool. A good overview of the available accommodations in Agia Galini you find on the website of www.gogalini.com.