Kamilari Hikes in Kamilari
Hikes in and around Kamilari Print E-mail

hikesinandaroundkamilari_4Kamilari is on several major walking routes linked by a major Minoan path running from Agia Triada through Kamilari and Agios Ioannis to Phaistos.

The landscape around here is particularly beautiful and ideal for nature-lovers, with a magnificent view of the interior of the Messara and the Libyan Sea with Paximadia islands.

Start from the main square with its little church dedicated to Agios Panteleïmonas and Metamorphosi tou Christou.

As usual, there is a date corresponding to the saint, and this date corresponds to the annual village celebration ("Panigiri") of Kamilari, which is celebrated here on the 06th of August.


First, wander around a bit in the narrow streets of the centre of the village to discover all the pretty corners, kafeneios and little shops the village has to offer in order to get an idea of the village life.

From the central square of the village, left to the church, you will see the baptistry, with its circular dome. If you follow this road, after the two kafenios on your left, you will come to a crossroad; there, you can either go straight up to climb to the top of Ovgora (the main hill of the village), or turn right to get down the hill, towards the small village of Metohi.

From Metohi you can follow the asphalted road in front of the pizzeria to the left for about 750m and reach the fountain of Xopigi, on your right hand, when you turn right at the crossroads.

If you turn left instead you'll get back to the village of Kamilari or can take some further walks on the hills around Kamilari.

Ovgora Print E-mail

If you decide to climb the Ovgora hill, you will discover after 5 minutes walk on its top, a small chapel, that is not christianized and therefore closed for public, but offering one of the most beautiful viewing points of the area: to the North and the East, the Messara plain and, further back the Psiloritis range; to the west, the mount Kedros and, if the weather is clear, the White Mountains and the Messara bay; to the South, Kamilari and in the background, the Asteroussia mountain range.

From Ovgora, you can follow the road, which leads down to the center of the village. Progressing along a series of typical houses, with their courtyards shaded by bougainvilleas, you will finally reach the second square of the village at the tavern Akropolis. In order to get back to the church's square turn left.

Metohi Print E-mail

In Metohi you can visit its fountain "Marmagiana", which is in front of the pizzeria today.

There is also a small church about 200m uphill, bearing the same name.

Epimenides, one of the Seven Sages of antiquity, was supposed to have lived in this area of Metohi, just outside Kamilari. According to legend, he lived 157 or 299 years, spending 57 of them in a deep sleep.

From Metohi, you might then decide to have a walk among the olive and orange trees. Just follow the path and signs behind the pizzeria and you will find the Old olive tree. The exact age is unknown. Most similar trees in Crete are aged around 2000 years. But it’s a very powerful and peaceful place also worth the visit.

When you’re back from the olive tree, you can follow the asphalt road to the right and take the second path on the right, where the “Minoan tholos tomb of Kamilari” is signposted. Remains of Minoan and Roman times have been excavated in various areas around Kamilari. In the 1960’s the most important excavation was found: Gligori Korifi is another name for the tholos tomb, where they found many small statues and other religious remains. It consists of five small rooms with an inner courtyard set outside the tomb itself.

If you come back from the tholos tomb or just follow the asphalted road from the pizzeria further on, you will find some Roman tombs from the I. AD on your left, about 200m before the next crossing. This is also a very recent discovery: troglodyte roman tombs carved in the smooth, limestone rock. The excavations are still going on.

From Methohi you might also walk to reach the old village of Agios Ioannis from where you might then go ahead to ancient Phaistos and Agia Triada.

Xopigi Print E-mail

You can also reach the other fountain of the village, known as "Xopigi" or "Xrysopigi", if you just walk down the village towards the sea and follow the Timbaki road for about 500m (when you reach the crossroads towards Kalamaki or Timbaki, keep on the right towards Timbaki).

Xopigi is about 50 m away from the small church, called "Zoodochos Pigi" (meaning: the one who gives life) on the right hand side. In the courtyard of the church, one column might be from an ancient temple.

"Xrysopigi" means "the golden fountain", which could be religious, since the above church is dedicated to "Virgin Mary, who gives life".

It is a lovely place just to "be". It is a very cool and pleasant place, with water running all year long. You might observe sweet-water crabs (and frogs) in the basins.

And it's also the place where we, all people from the village, celebrate the 1st May and not only children, wear necklaces of flowers.

The tholos tomb at Kamilari Print E-mail

The Kamilari tholos tomb is located on the hill of Grigori Korfi, about 80 m high, near by the sea and 1.9 kilometres south west of Agia Triada, and also very close to Phaistos. It was built on the north side of the hill, in a spot with a panoramic view of the Asterousia Mountains, Psiloritis and the Messara Plain. The tomb was discovered in the summer of 1959 following the excavations by Italian professor Doro Levi, who dated it to circa 2000 BC, detailing its historical phases on the basis of the cult and funerary finds. The tomb was used at different times, in 1800 BC, 1700 BC and 1500 BC - this last is the date of most of the offerings found during the excavation. The Kamilari tomb was half underground, built in the usual tholos tomb method, of stones of varying sizes and mud. The ground was levelled before the foundations of the tomb were laid and it is thought that the tomb had a stone roof (tholos).

To the east of the tomb there is an annexe of five rooms and north of these there was an area for offerings. It was here that the earliest pottery from the tomb was found together with some small stone vases. All the vessels had been placed upside down. Altogether 500 vases have been found in the area outside the tomb and 250 inside the tomb. Clay models reenacting different scenes have also been found.

The most interesting finds at Kamilari date from the LM IIIA burials - the last to be carried out here. Among the finds were three clay models depicting various scenes. One scene shows a banquet being offered to the dead. The religious nature of the event is clear from the horns of consecration and doves which have been attached to the clay model. Cretan funerary customs, as indicated by the excavation finds, were linked to the worship and honouring of the illustrious dead. The tholos tombs of the Minoan period were grand, imposing buildings, constructed with great care in a particular style of architecture, demonstrating the social organisation of the time. The care of the dead in Crete did not include only the standard rituals on the burial day, but also lasted for a considerable time afterwards, with memorial services, funerary repasts and offerings to the dead. The offerings and grave goods which the Cretans buried with the body provide historians with much important information on dead person's status. The second scene of the clay models shows two people standing in front of four seated people. It is possible that these two are making offerings to the dead. The final scene is of a group of dancers, now known as the "Kamilari Dancers", dancing in a way which is very similar to the traditional Greek dances still to be seen on the island. These finds are on display in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum today.

The internal diameter of the tholos tomb is 7.65 metres and the annexe was probably added at a later date, perhaps during MM IIIA. The tomb entrance faces east and was sealed with a large slab measuring 1.15 x 1.05m, all of which is very well preserved. Although the tomb is fenced in, the gate is now left unlocked so it is possible to enter the site. Kamilari tomb remains a very imposing structure and is well worth a visit. The views of the surrounding countryside are also quite spectacular.

In spring 2008, the walls of the annexe have been replastered and a wall which had collapsed has been rebuilt. The annexe is now looking really good.

The landscape around here is particularly beautiful and ideal for nature-lovers, with a magnificent view of the interior of the Messara and the Libyan Sea.

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