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You are in:  Top  →  Europe  →  GREECE  →  Crete  →  HANIA  →  Sfakia

Sfakia

Legendary in Crete for the ferocity and courage of its inhabitants, Chora Sfakion today is hardly distinguishable from the island's other coastal villages, with its seaside taverns, hotels, souvenir shops and pebble beach.

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Sfakia, Crete

At one time, however, it was the capital of its own province, a province that Crete's various occupiers never quite subdued. Remote, it still supplied innumerable Cretan revolutions, and often turned to smuggling and piracy.

At one time Chora Sfakion was said to have a hundred churches, enabling the townsfolk to gather at seemingly harmless paniyeria every two or three days to plot the next moves of a revolt.

Today Chora Sfakion serves a boat terminal where the walkers from Samaria Gorge arrive to board the buses to Hania.

The ferry quay is at the western side of the harbour. Buses leave from the square on the eastern side. The Post Office and OTE are on the square, and the Police station overlooks it. There is no tourist office and no tourist police. Chora Sfakion postcode is 73 001.

Sfakia area is the most mountainous of the Cretan eparchies. It is a region of gorges and caves. In ancient times, especially during the Roman period, there were many flourishing coastal and inland settlements: Poikilasos, Tarrha, Phoinix, Aradin, Anopolis.

The inhabitants of this region have long had a reputation for fearlessness and independence characteristics they retain to this day. Other Greeks regard Cretans as being immensely proud and there are none more so than the people of Sfakia.

In the Byzantine period it was the bishopric of Phoinix or Aradin; under the Venetians it was not a castellany, but was governed by a Provveditore, and was a constant hotbed of rebellion.

One of Crete's most celebrated heroes, Ioannis Daskalogiannis was from Sfakia. Daskalogiannis led the first Cretan insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1770.

When help promised by Russia failed to materialise, he gave himself up to the Turks to save his followers. As punishment the Turks skinned him alive in Iraklion. Witnesses related that Daskalogiannis suffered this excruciating death in dignified silence.

Turks never succeeded controlling the Sfakia and this rugged mountainous region was the scene of fierce fighting. The story of their resistance lives on in the form folk tales and rizitika (local folk songs). One of the most popular is the Song of Daskalogiannis.



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