The small village of Agios Ioannis is one of the three villages that constitute the community of Kamilari.
From Kamilari it' s a nice walk to Agios Ioannis through olive and orange trees. Have a nice walk around the village of Agios Ioannis and proceed on the major Minoan path via Phaistos and Agia Triada.
The village of Agios Ioannis is a very calm one, built at the foot of Phaistos hill, which was the second biggest center of the Minoan civilisation in Crete, after Knossos. The first known reference to the village was in 1303, then the village was regularly mentioned in official documents, census, etc. The village name was adapted to the language of various invaders: Agios Janus Meligha, Giovani Meglia, Agios Ioannis Melika - this "Melika" only applies to this village and identifies it. The name of the village Agios Ioannis may also come from Agios Ioannis o Xenos, a man from Sivas, who apparently had built most of the churches of the area, and later became a saint.
The area was quite rich in water, so it was a place where people who had fields could cultivate until summer. There were systems of small channels with small "dams" to gather and keep the water as long as possible. Even rice was cultivated in the area. At this time, the "Geropotamos", the river that runs between Phaistos hill and Timbaki-Mires road had water all year long. At the foot of the north side of the hill of Phaistos is the Gerontomylos, a traditional local watermill.
The houses of the community of Agios Ioannis are built on the south side of Phaistos hill on the ruins of an ancient city.
Today the village has about 60 inhabitants.
There are three popular churches that belong to the village of Agios Ioannis.
- Agios Georgios
(Agios Georgios Falandras, Falandra being the name of the area)
This is the church on your right just before arriving on Phaistos car park. It was rebuilt in the XVIth century, next to the ruins of a monastery, founded by Agios Ioannis o Xenos, a native from Sivas, who later became a saint and gave his name to the village of Agios Ioannis. It's supposed that the old monastery was the first church from the Xth century whereas a second nave made out the current church from the Venetian period. The church was destroyed and burnt by the Turks during 1821 revolution, then rebuilt There is a sign with further explanations in front of the church, which shows a typical architecture of this period.
- In the village there is the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos built in the 16th century, and the tower of Agriolidis. There was an old, stone-built bell tower north of the church. Inside the church there are handmade wooden icons on the walls. During the Turkish occupation, Agios Ioannis was notorious as the birthplace of the Janissary Agriolidis, who was half Greek, half Turkish as his mother was a Greek from Pitsidia, who had been raped by a Turk. Agriolidis has been fought by Logios, who finally killed him. The tomb of Logios is assigned on the Timbaki - Mires road, just behind the Phaistos road. Agriolidis's Tower in the village is one of the local sights, with architectural elements dating to the 17th century (probably of the Venetian period) and there was a monument to captain Adamakis, warrior and leader during the 1866-69 rebellion against the Turks. This monument disappeared.
- Outside the village, on the road Phaistos-Matala there is the small church of Agios Pavlos (St Paul's church) with its 14th-century dome. The first written reference for this church is in the year 1303, but it talks about a renovation, so the church at this time was old enough to deserve a renovation. Inside the church, you can find the life of Saint Paul, a crucifixion and the punishment in hell of the sinners and damned ones displayed on the frescoes. The wall-paintings and byzantine frescoes inside are very well-preserved and fascinating. The frescoes are the first of a special type called "palaiologos type". Saint Paul was the saint who evangelized Crete. He is supposed to have arrived in Kali Limenes. There is a cave in Kali Limenes, just up the beach, where Agios Pavlos is supposed to have lived. There is a sign with further explanations in front of the church.
On the same road, 200 m from the village an intact tomb of the Geometrical period has been discovered, and beside it two Roman tombs.
In the village there are three tavernas and a kafeneio as well as some apartments for rent.
The village celebrates the feast-day of Agios Ioannis on the 26th of September, when a fair is sometimes organized on the old schoolyard..
At the south part of the village there is an old distillery of raki.