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Kapetaniana

Until recently it was a secluded spot, and for a long time it was difficult to reach, with just a gravel road connecting it to the outside world.

Now, since the tarmac road was completed, the village is awakening from its slumber. Very few people are now able to resist the splendid location of Kapetaniana and the tremendous view from the village, something that visitors to the mountain guesthouse "Pension Kofinas" have known about for a long time.

Here you are treated to an unspoilt village, where you can enjoy the splendid landscape in peace and quiet.

Even journeying to our place is spectacular, involving a drive along many serpentines affording impressive views of the Messara plane, before one reaches a saddle where first the Libyan Sea becomes visible, then the eye-catching, cone-shaped peak of "Kofinas" (1,236 m) and then the village itself. It lies hidden like an eagles nest, perched on the steep slopes of the Asterousia Mountains. Our "local mountain" spreads its two flanks majestically to the North and South. When the mountains were formed through folding a shear line was formed, which is typical for the numerous imposing cliff areas made of solid grey limestone.
The view of the Libyan Sea is fantastic.
The village
Today the village of Kapetaniana actually consists of two villages, Kato Kapetaniana "the lower village", and Pano (Ano) Kapetaniana, "the upper village". Both villages are reached via separate access roads and, please note, both villages are pedestrian zones!
Vehicles must remain in the parking spaces on the edges of the villages, because the alleys are too narrow for cars. The two villages are connected by a small footpath. In the lower village stands the Byzantine Panagia Church. This architectural jewel dates from the early 14th Century and contains well-preserved, beautiful frescoes.
History of Kapetaniana
Etymological background:
Kapetaniana: village where the "kapetanii" (captains) lived. A kapetanios was somebody who never allowed himself to be captured during the occupation, someone who was incorruptible, proud and a fierce fighter. Until the Germans came in the Second World War, this village was never occupied by foreign powers – neither the Arabs, nor the Venetians nor the Turks conquered it.
Kofinas: the mountain is called "kofinas", which means basket, because it is shaped like an upturned, narrow basket. It resembles the specially shaped basket which is used for manufacturing fresh cheese from sheep's milk on the island of Crete.
...Ancient stones ...
In the Minoan Era (approximately 2,500 B.C.) there was a shrine on the peak of the mountain and on the saddle below there was a temple consecrated to Eileithyia, the Goddess of Fertility, in a place known as Metzolati. Important finds from the area, for instance bronze votive objects, are now on display in museums in Athens and in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Today there is a stone chapel on the mountain consecrated to "Timion Stavron", which means the "upright cross", and each year on 14 September mass is celebrated on the peak, and in recent years increasing numbers of locals from nearby villages have made a pilgrimage to this service, carrying basil and loaves of bread to the top of the mountain, where they are consecrated and then eaten.
The view from the peak is superb: deep below you can just make out the monastery Moni Koudouma, which is a very popular place of pilgrimage.
...Churches and Monasteries...
For a very long time the whole region was unsettled because of its extreme inaccessibility. It was first settled during the time of the Venetian occupation. After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders and the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantine Prince Alexios, son of the deposed Emperor Isaac II Angelos gave Crete as a gift to Boniface of Montferrat, leader of the Fourth Crusade. Enrico Dandolo, the Doge (Duke) of Venice then persuaded Boniface to cede Crete to the Republic of Venice. When a secret agreement was signed on 12 August 1204, Crete became a Venetian dominion for a mere 1,000 silver marks (approximately 5,000 gold ducats It was only when the Venetians left the island in 1668 when the Turks conquered it, that monks and abbots, who preferred to remain pure (gnisio) and true to the Eastern Orthodox Church rather than mixing with the Western Church, came to this deserted landscape. Consequently, during this period over 23 churches and monasteries were built in the Asterousia Mountains, which also operated as secret schools during the occupation. The Panagia Church and the Michelangelo??? Church bear witness to the finest art of fresco painting, because in their lonely retreats the abbots did not want to do without the artful trappings of churches, and consequently commissioned their own fresco painters from the Byzantine region.
... The origins of the village
Slowly the word spread about the settlement, which was at least beautifully located and protected from the Turkish occupiers, even if the climate could be harsh and the terrain was rough and uneconomical. Slowly a village was established around the monastery with its "Panagia" church. Kapetaniana gradually grew as some resistance fighters fled their region of Skakia in Western Crete, either from the Turks or because of family feuds (vendettas). This ushered in the village's "golden age", with numerous families living there, grain growing along the slopes of the hills right up to the saddle of Kofinas, and cows and sheep grazing in the area.
During the Second World War
Then the German army came and the indigenous people had to leave their village, because its position overlooking the South coast made it an excellent look-out post for this coastline. However, the "kapetanii" returned several times and tried, for their part, to drive out the Germans, and there were numerous scuffles, although there were no bloody battles.
In the 60s
The crops had not been tended for years and the fields lay infertile, poverty was increasing and many families emigrated to Germany and Austria.
End of the 60s and beginning of the 70s
Many hippies lived in Matala, and some of them travelled over the mountains to Kapetaniana: they were not seeking peace away from the clutches of occupying forces but simply wanted to get away from police harassment. For a few years 10 to 15 "flower people" lived in the seclusion of this mountain haven.
Beginning of the 80s

In 1984 Luisa und Gunnar came from Austria and bought an old farmhouse.
In 1986 their son Alex attended the village school, together with 11 other children.
In 1988 their second son Konstantin was born. When he was 8 years old the village school was closed, and today there is only one young family with 3 small children. All other children have left the village and the total number of people living in Kato and Pano Kapetaniana is approximately 80.

Since 1991 Luisa and Gunnar have been running a mountain guesthouse and organising hiking tours on the island of Crete.

... In 2005 – a village awakens from its slumber!
Until recently it was a secluded spot, and for a long time it was difficult to reach, with just a gravel road connecting it to the outside world. Now, since the tarmac road was completed, the village is awakening from its slumber. Very few people are now able to resist the splendid location of Kapetaniana and the tremendous view from the village, something that visitors to the mountain guesthouse "Pension Kofinas" have known about for a long time. Here you are treated to an unspoilt village, where you can enjoy the splendid landscape in peace and quiet. The word has got out, and now many old houses are being bought and renovated, for instance by popular Greek singers from mainland Greece, Cretan archaeologists, architects and artists (from Austria).