Friday, 12 July 2013

Coffee, a wander, then another coffee... Archanes... with your dog

View of Mount Juktas from Archanes
Reaching the end of my photos of Sage in our favourite Cretan places, I asked various friends to send me photos they had taken of us, or of their own dogs on days out. For this reason you will notice that these photos of Archanes are absolutely stunning, and nothing like the amateur shots you see on my other posts. Last Spring, a couple of friends came out to visit us in Crete, and we spent a morning in Archanes, exploring the narrow streets that lead downhill to Mount Juktas, nosing in the windows of abandoned houses and shops, admiring the plants that fill every courtyard.

I've only just seen these photos myself, and it's really interesting to me to see the town as it appears to a new visitor, especially one who expresses himself through visual images, although not normally through photography    (have a look at his work here:

I love Archanes. It's so close to Heraklion, yet has a completely different feel to it. The houses and streets have mostly been renovated, and there is very little sign of the rapid development, the blocks of flats and excessive concrete, that is evident in much of Crete.

I also love the way the town is kind of nestled in the foothills of Juktas. It is not a dramatically high mountain, but has been important in the area for millennia (at the peak there is a rural sanctuary dating to the Minoan period and linked with the Palace of Knossos). The mountain is supposed to have the shape of the profile of Zeus when viewed from a particular angle, but perhaps I've never been at that particular angle, because it doesn't look much like him to me.

Excavations have been undertaken in and around Archanes for almost a century, with some of the 'big names' of Minoan archaeology - Sir Arthur Evans, Spyridon Marinatos, Nikolaos Platon, and Yiannis Sakellerakis - each leading campaigns in the area. The most thorough excavations were carried out by the late Yiannis Sakellerakis from the mid 1960s. He led excavations in the Minoan cemetery Phourni, outside of Archanes, as well as the 'Palatial' site within the town itself. For further reading, try the guide by the excavators:

  • Sakellarakis, J. and E. Crete, Archanes ISBN 960-213-234-5 (Guidebook). Most of the f
  • inds are now displayed in Archanes archaeological museum.

    The official pages of the Ministry of Culture can be found here:

    Apart from wandering through some really picturesque streets, and exploring archaeological sites (from outside the fence if you have your dog with you), there are many cafes and tavernas, in the square and on some of the side streets - I have found a few of them to be dog-friendly.

    On this particular day, we sat outside in the square at "O Apostolis" kafeneio. We had both Sage and her friend Betty with us, and the cafe was fine about them sitting quietly at our feet. This place is very much a traditional cafe, selling mostly just coffee, beer and raki. It's cheap, and dog-friendly.
    Betty at the kafeneio in Archanes Square

    There are quite a few stray dogs that roam the streets and especially the square of Archanes. I've always found them very docile and no problem at all, but you should probably bear it in mind when you visit.

    On a previous occasion I sat inside at a taverna with Sage, when my parents came to visit on a cold and rainy day in October. I have just spent more than an hour searching for the name of this place online, and not finding it. I'll go and find out when I'm in Crete this summer. It was a very nice place, next to the kafeneio on the same side of the square. They had good, warm food, ready made but fresh. The prices were very reasonable. Most importantly, they were extremely friendly to us and to Sage, and made us feel very welcome.

    There was a second taverna that I didn't manage to find online - so many reasons to go back and eat and drink in Archanes! - where I went with a group of friends this autumn, and again sat inside. This taverna was not on the main square, but off one of the side streets, and was decorated with lots of traditional Cretan musical instruments and equipment for weaving. The food was reasonable, but I don't remember now what we ate or exact prices (about 12 Euros per person for wine and meze). Sage was tolerated, the staff were fine about her sitting indoors.

    For such a small town there is really a lot to do and see here. I'm going to post separately about hiking in the area, as there is too much to say. It also seems like most of the cafes and restaurants at least tolerate dogs, and most welcome them. It's really worth spending some time exploring Archanes, especially if you are looking for a break from Heraklion and the busy north coast of Crete.

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    1 comment:

    1. This was one of my favorite days.. of many days in Crete... I loved it so much, very beautiful and relaxed!