Ria Hotel - About Crete:

CHANIA PREFECTURE

With the majestic White Mountains  protecting  it from behind and the Aegean Sea in front, lies Chania Prefecture,  the western part of Crete.  Whole woods of chestnut – and walnut trees, the lushiest  corner of the island! Due to the innumerable natural mountain springs.
Here you find some of the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, such as: ELAFONISI – with its rose shell-sand  and sand dunes (for privacy!), a protected area, within the European Program “Natura 2000”.  FALASSARNA – with good taverns , and the ruins of an ancient city, once an important naval and commercial centre. GRAMVOUSA  ISLAND/BALOS LAGOON – also a protected area, wild nature (no organized beaches) – marvellous!  - and an exiting Venetian  castle on top, from where you have  a birds-eye-view of the pelagos. Voyages almost every day, from the port of Kastelli/Kissamos.     -   All of the above mentioned beaches,  at south-western versus north-western tip of Crete.
The area also hosts many ancient, holy places for worshipping – today, much-visited religious  and/or  archaeological sites. E.g. ST SOPHIA cave/chapel,  CRISSOSKALITISSA  MONASTERY, GONI MONASTERY, ST JOHNS CAVE  in Spilia,  GOUVERNETO  MONASTERY  in Akrotiri peninsula.
Looking for ECOLOGICAL alternatives? Then maybe the best option is MILIA;  traditional Cretan stone buildings and cottages for rent, restaurant, and a mountain farm in wonderful surroundings, near the village Vlatos.
Eastwards,  the Apokoronas area, with its lush beauty and Crete’s only fresh-water lake, KOURNA, with thousands of turtles. A “must”  for photo-shots! Nearby,  GEORGIOUPOLIS, a picturesque seaside village with its fish market – for “the early birds”, only…
Last but not least, you find three of the most stunning gorges of Crete in Chania Prefecture:  ST IRINIS GORGE, IMBROS GORGE, and – the largest hiking canyon in Europe(approx. 18 km long) –  the world famous SAMARIA GORGE.In 1962, it was declared a National Park.
The  White Mountains is an Eldorado for hikers! From beginners to the most advanced.It covers 1/3 of the prefecture, and is a true paradise for every nature lover, with dozens of gorges, ravines, plateaus, rivers and  mountain peaks to enjoy.
As for all the four prefectures of Crete, here you can enjoy innumerable archaeological sites and monasteries.

CHANIA PREFECTURE ….. IN A FEW WORDS:

  1. POPULATION: approx……….
  2. CAPITAL, PREFECTURE: CHANIA (approx. 70.000 inhabitants)
  3. ECONOMY: 45% agriculture, 20 % industry, 35 % tourism
  4. PHONE SYSTEM: Digital Cellular Area Code for Greece: 0030
  5. ELECTRICITY: 220 voltage
  6. BANKS: Mon to Thurs 8.00 – 14.30,  Fri 8.00 – 14.00
  7. CHURCHES: it is not allowed to enter churches and monasteries if  inappropriately dressed

MEANS OF ARRIVAL

BY PLANE

  1. Athens – Chania – Athens (Airport – town of Chania: 12 km)

BY BOAT

  1. Piraeus – Chania  – Piraeus (daily). Duration of trip: 12 hours. Speed boat,is planned at peak season
  2. Chania/Kastelli – Cythera – Anticythera – Monemvasia

CHANIA TOWN

The capital of Chania Prefecture, Chania town, ( ancient  Kydonia) is situated on the north coast, only 12 kms from the airport. It has approx.  70.000 inhabitants.

“VENICE OF THE EAST”… “THE TOWN OF THE JASMINES”… - just pick your choice!
The Old Town of Chania is built upon a Minoan city, “guarded” by the Venetian Walls (which the Ottomans/Turks did not manage to destroy completely). Excavations have shown that here was a settlement even earlier: in the Neolithic period.
The whole port area, within the walls, is declared an archaeological site (thus culturally protected). Just stroll through the narrow alleys, and feel the fantastic atmosphere; The Old Town has something for every taste! Picturesque and romantic, historically interesting, amazing architecture :Venetian and Turkish buildings, minarets, old Turkish bath houses (one is now a cosy tavern!), churches and museums, and an old beautiful little synagogue.  Numerous  bars and taverns and shops… You name it!
Right on top of the wall, sits the covered market – the “AGORA” –  well worth a visit; except of  fresh fish and other first-class foods, it has a very special architecture – there is only one more  cross-formed market like that: in the city of Marseille in France.In the Agora, you meet the locals!

The main port is approx. 5 kms east of Chania, at the Souda Bay. (Daily connections with Piraeus.) Being the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean,  it also hosts one of the most important NATO- and American Marine Bases.
As for hotels, The Old Town has many small friendly hotels/pensions, traditional style (old stone buildings, Venetian or Turkish). The more modern and bigger ones you will find in the centre of Chania, and in the outskirts of the town,  numerous resort hotels, some of them newly built, five-star hotels.A good choice for your next conference!
P.S. Want to try something “almost exotic”? Then, visit an open-air cinema! Romantic. There is always a break… and a bar! (Only in summer, of course.)

RETHYMNON PREFECTURE  AND  TOWN
THE PREFECTURE

Here stands the highest mountain peak of Crete, Psiloritis (2.456 m), in the Ida Mountains. In this area is one of the most well-known monasteries situated:ARKADI MONASTERY  .It was here, during one of the revolutions against the Ottomans/Turks, in 1866, that the abbot took the fateful decision: to set fire to the monastery’s  gun powder  magazine!! Rather than giving in to the Turks, he killed himself, together with almost  a thousand of his refugees – also women and children.  This braveness gave an enormous  “echo”  around the world, thus rising the European  philhellenic movements…The inland – and southern parts of the prefecture, have many places of extraordinary beauty, such as  the  PALM BEACH  and river with its waterfalls at the KOURTIOTIKO r avine.  The river-mouth is right underneath the beautiful  PREVELI MONASTERY, which stands on top of a rock,  steeping dangerously down to the sea.
  
RETHYMNON TOWN
This is the University town par preference, the oldest one in Crete. Thus, a youngish and lively atmosphere all year round.
The Old Town has a gorgeous little Venetian harbour, and a Venetian Castle – FORTEZZA -  on top of a hill nearby. There, you can enjoy (July – August) ancient and modern Greek Drama, at a romantic ancient amfitheatre – the oldest  one on the island.Rethymnon is famous, even internationally,  for its SUMMER CULTURE FESTIVAL. All kinds of art  are represented,  artists  from many different countries take part.
If you stroll through the narrow alleys, you can admire the well renewed old houses, both Venetian and Turkish. Here you will also find some of the most well-conserved minarets left in Crete.
The Rethymnon area has  the longest beach on the island…You can even  start swimming from the very centre of  the town!

HERAKLION PREFECTURE  and CITY
THE PREFECTURE

This area, in the middle of  Crete ,     is full of marvellous “pearls”: the most famous archaeological sites of the island, and about twentyfive (!) monasteries. Here you have THE PALACE/TEMPLE  OF KNOSSOS  (Nr 2, after Akropolis in Athens, on the  “Tourist Best Seller List”!), together with  the archaeological sites of FAESTOS and MALIA , also palaces/temples,  and GORTYNA (a formal  Roman  Capital) , and many others .
In the Prefecture of Heraklion  you also find  some of the most visited seaside resorts,  with big luxurious hotels, mainly along the northen coast,  and innumerable  beautiful beaches in the more “wild” South.
If lounging at the beach is not enough for you…, there is  a golf-course in the area.
Last but not least, as goes for all Crete:  if you leave this island without visiting any of the genuine, picturesque  mountain villages  -  you will not  know what   REAL CRETE is!!
THE CITY
The  CAPITAL of CRETE.  The birth place of  “EL GRECO”  (Dominikos Theotokopoulos)!  Here was  Nikos Kazantzakis born and buried (his tomb is today a most visited site, on the Venetian Wall around  the Old Town). Even  a more famous and loved  author worldwide than in his own country, in fact… Remember “Zorba the Greek”? “Captain Michalis”?  “Christ recrusified”?  - to mention a few only. Kazantzaki’s books, and later films,  are spread all over the world.
Today,  Heraklion is a buzy city; here you have the headquarters of all the banks, companies and public service. (Only the Highest Court,  is still in Chania town, that was earlier the capital of  Crete.) The port is of great  importance, Crete being the strategic  “cross – point” for trading  - just in the middle of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Most of the city was totally bombed/destroyed by the Germans during the  2nd  World War Occupation (1941 – 1945),  but there are a few  old, beautiful  buildings left, around the  harbour in the old part of the city, as well as some parts of the Venetian wall and the harbour castle.
Heraklion  hosts some very good museums, the most wellknown  being  THE ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUM, of international fame, with the amazing exhibits from  THE  MINOAN CIVILISATION.

LASSITHI PREFECTURE  and  AGIOS NIKOLAOS TOWN

THE PREFECTURE

The Prefecture of Lassithi,  is the very eastern part of Crete, the capital is Agios Nikolaos. In the Dikti Mountains,  near the  tiny village Psihro, is the birth place of …Zeus! According to the Greek Mythology, that is.  So, why not a “pilgrimage” to the cave of “The god of the gods”?
Like the  neighbouring prefecture,  in Lassithi the archaeological sites are abundant, especially from the Minoan period, the most famous being the ruins of the Palace/Temple of ZAKROS. This area has many monasteries – as all Crete – the most wellknown  one is TOPLOU, east of the town of Sitia.There is an extraordinary collection of priceless icons.Also, the monastery has a good reputation for its ecological cultivations; here you can buy olive oil, and other products, of excellent quality.
At the north-eastern tip of the island is the much-visited palm beach VAI  (the only native palm-wood in Crete).
You will find  numerous wonderful beaches all around  the area of Lassithi.

AGIOS NIKOLAOS

Mild climate, very friendly and cultivated atmosphere – does this appeal to you? Then  your option should be the town of Agios  Nikolaos!  Situated at the beautiful  Mirambello Bay, a small town, but  it hosts one of the best organized marinas in Crete  - just a few minutes walk from the town center. Also, not far from the town, you will find some of the most elegant, five-stars hotels of the island, e.g in ELOUNDA.  Opposite this village, lies the island of Spinalonga, once a “refugee camp” for patients with leprosy. Today, a “somewhat different” sightseeing place, very popular with the tourists. Boats leave regularly from the picturesque harbour of Agios Nikolaos town. A kind of shuttle service from Elounda.