You would think as many times as we have been to Greece we would remember that many archeological sites are closed on Tuesdays, including Aptera, Crete. Unfortunately, every year we get caught up on this. Our September 2023 trip was no exception.
We left Chania, Crete late morning. We were excited as we were on our way to Chora Sfakia in southern Crete and we planned on stopping at Ancient Aptera along the way. Aptera is an archeological site which has been on our list each time we have visited Crete but just never made it previously. We specifically set aside enough drive time so we could stop and explore.
Ancient Aptera, Crete
As we neared the area of Aptera, I googled the site for directions and immediately noticed it was closed on Tuesdays. Of course it was Tuesday. Steve and I both groaned as we couldn’t believe we planned this on a Tuesday! Such brilliant planners we were, we had it all figured out, time allotted, and we forgot many of of Greek archaeological sites closed on Tuesdays! Regardless, we stopped anyway. Although the weather did not make it a perfect picture day, nonetheless it was still fun.
Too our dismay, the amphitheater and surrounding areas of Aptera were closed so consequently we could not visit the best areas. We could see some of the ruins from outside the fenced in area, but not the amphitheater.
Fortress of Aptera
This Turkish fortress built in 1866 is quite an impressive fortress. Built after the Cretan Revolution during Turkish occupation and its purpose was to control the Apokorona region. This well preserved Fortress’s official name is Apteron Koules meaning Aptera Fortress. After the Turkish occupation the fortress was used as a school for a short while for the surrounding village children. Although it is not open to the public, we enjoyed walking around the exterior.
We did not drive down to the Izzeddin Fortress as it is not open to the public either, but we did view it from the Koules Fortress. It appears to be pretty impressive, overlooking the sea in the Bay of Souda. Built in 1872 during the Ottoman rule and was used as a prison. During Greek rule it was widely known as a political prison throughout the 20th century until 1972 when the Greek Junta government failed. It is currently owned by the Hellenic Navy and is also a protected cultural building. To read more you can click here on Greeka.com
Koules of Neo Chorio
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much information on these fortress ruins. This fortress was built on the ruins of a Venetian Tower during Ottoman era, sometime after 1866. It is part of several towers that were built during this time to control the people of Crete and defend the area.
We found this foortress by google and also by keeping our eyes open. Once off the main road, we drove just a short way on not very well maintained dirt roads. There was a dog taking a nap in the middle of the road and it took a minute or two for him to decide to move while we patiently waited. Other than that, no problem. We parked on the side of the road, with the fortress in view. There was no real path to the fortress but several goat paths which were easy to follow. In addition, the fortress was not far from the road. Once at the fortress, we walked around it but did not go inside as it did not look very stable.
Afterwards we continued our drive to Chora Sfakia. It was rainy, regardless, we enjoyed the drive but did not get spectacular photos.
Eventually we arrived at Chora Sfakia late in the afternoon. We fell in love with the little village and were eager to explore it over the next few days.
Where We Stayed
Once at Chora Sfakia we settled in at our hotel, The Authentic Village, where we would be staying for the next four nights. We absolutely loved this boutique hotel and also the staff whoo wer wonderful. It was the perfect place to base ourselves for the adventures over the following days!
Where We Ate
After walking along the Main Street in Chora Sfakia, we decided to have dinner at Taverna Delfini. It was a great choice! The food was delicious and the views were amazing.
Map of our Day’s Journey
Although it was a bit of a dreary day in Crete, and Aptera was closed on Tuesdays, all in all we had a great day. Although the drive itself from Chania to Chora Sfakia isn’t too long, we enjoyed getting out at a few spots and exploring the area. We would have explored more off the beaten path spots but when it started raining we decided to just head for Chora Sfakia. Without a doubt, we absolutely loved Chora Sfakia! In my next few posts, you will find out why we loved this area and may want to travel here as well.
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