YEP, BACK IN CRETE. So this is a sort of pictorial view of what we have been seeing and what may be worth a visit if you are in this ‘neck of the woods’ some day. Followers will recall my trips to Crete in previous posts (May 30, 2014 and April 11, 2015). Most of our visitations have been to Bronze Age Minoan sites but this time we decided to be different, mainly because we had already bored our companions, Lawrence and Jackie, with Minoan sites on previous visits.
First there was the 13th century (AD) church of Panagia Kera. This means the virgin (Panagia or Panayia) of Kera and is just off the main road to Kritsa (near Agios Nikolias) It’s not much to look at from the outside but it is covered almost entirely inside with some amazing 13th century frescoes. It is a domed three-aisled church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and dates to the early Venetian occupation.
Panagia Kera – not much to look at from the outside …….
But inside …… 13th century fresco of the Last Supper
St George slaying the dragon
The donor of the frescoes, Yeorgios Mazizanis, and his wife and child (without head)
We then headed up a very long and winding road (cue for song) off the main road just west of Gournia to the Phaneromeni Monastery. This is an austere monastic building (almost a fortress) on a rock edge with fantastic sea views. The site dates back to the Second Byzantine period (around the 12th century AD) but the actual date of the present building is unsure – but rebuilt in 1885.
Monastery of Phaneromeni
Inner courtyard of monastery
On top of the monastery with the church built into the rock face (me, with back to camera, looking into the courtyard below)
View from the monastery looking west towards Agios Nikolaos
The next trip was to another monastery, this time to the west near Sitia – the Toplou Monastery, aka the Monastery of Pangia Akrotiriani. It gets its Toplou name from the Turkish word ‘top’ meaning ‘cannonball’ as the Turks had seen a cannon there which had been provided by the Venetians for the defence of the monastery. This really was a fortress building but its date of construction is also unknown. It may go back to the early 15th century but it appears to have been rebuilt after 1498 to defend against the Turks, particularly the Turkish pirate, Khayr ad-Din Barbarossa, aka ‘Redbeard’ (1474–1518). It was damaged by an earthquake in 1612 but repaired shortly afterwards by its Abbot, Gabriel Pantogalos, with funds from devout Christians and the Cretan historian, Andreas Cornaros. It is not entirely clear whether this was just a restoration to its pre-earthquake form or a complete rebuild from the foundations. The museum at the monastery houses some very early icons (religious paintings), books, manuscripts and engravings.
The Toplou ‘fortress’ Monastery
The courtyard inside the monastery – don’t you just love that long thin cactus on the left going up to the roof!
Entrance to inner courtyard (not so tall cactus on right) – looking through the door to the inner courtyard you can see a plaque (with 3 holes in it) on the wall of the church – this gives details of the Arbitration of Magnesia (132 BC) referring to an alliance between Itanos and Ierapetra and was found by Robert Pashley (see blog post January 31) in 1834 being used as an altar in the Venetian church of Timios Stavros across the road from Toplou
The monastery has its own windmill
The museum containing many early icons and books – church in the background (not my photo – I took this from the internet as you are not allowed to take photos in the museum – I don’t know who took this one!)
Okay, we did go and see one Minoan site – the house at Chamaizi. This is quite unique as it is the only known Minoan building with circular walls. It dates to Middle Minoan IA (c 2100-1900 BC) and is situated on a hill with great views for a ‘look-out’ post just west of Sitia. The complex has a paved entrance to the south and the rooms are set around a small courtyard with a raised well or cistern.
Plan of Chamaizi (courtyard marked 12; well marked 12a; room with shrine marked 4)
Walls of Chamaizi
Finally, having dropped Lawrence and Jackie off at the airport at Heraklion (Iraklio) for their return to UK, Sarah and I ventured southwards through Knossos towards Archanes (Arhanes). I was determined to find the spot where General Kreipe was kidnapped by a British and Cretan force in 1944 – see blog post September 6, 2014, Ill Met by Moonlight. Well, it wasn’t difficult. In 1944 it was at a point where the Epano Archanes road meets the Knossos road (south of Knossos) and today there is a large modern roundabout at that point and a large monument on the side of the road marking the spot.
Map (see Stanley Moss’ map in Ill Met by Moonlight post)
The monument marking the kidnapping spot (I’m in the pic for scale)
Oh, and very finally, as Followers will know, we cannot leave a blog post on Crete without the rising of the full moon pic from Taverna Koxilia in Mochlos:
Artemus Smith’s Notebooks
I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:
A crafty old colleague of mine, Jeremiah Brainstormer, had been a retired farmer for a long time, became very bored and decided to open a medical clinic. He put a sign up outside that said: “Jeremiah’s clinic – Trouble with taste, memory or sight? Get your treatment for £50 – if not cured, get back £100.”
A young student of mine, Sebastian Littlewaller, was positive that Jeremiah didn’t know anything about medicine and thought this would be a great opportunity to get £100. So he went to Jeremiah’s clinic. This is what transpired:
Sebastian: “Jeremiah, I have lost all taste in my mouth, can you please help me?”
Jeremiah: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.” This the nurse did.
Sebastian: “Aaagh !! – that’s PETROL”
Jeremiah: “Congratulations! You’ve got your taste back. That will be £50 please.”
Sebastian gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days figuring to recover his money.
Sebastian: “I have lost my memory; I cannot remember anything.”
Jeremiah: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.”
Sebastian “Oh no you don’t – that’s PETROL”
Jeremiah: “Congratulations! You’ve got your memory back. That will be £50 please.”
Sebastian leaves angrily and comes back after several more days.
Sebastian: “My eyesight has become weak – I can hardly see!”
Jeremiah: “Well, I don’t have any medicine for that so here’s your £100.” But Jeremiah only gives him £10. Sebastian : “But this is only £10.”
Jeremiah: “Congratulations! You’ve got your vision back. That will be £50 please.”
There’s a moral to this story. I’m not sure what it is but probably something to do with youngsters not messing with crafty old men!