Megala Chorafia, which was officially renamed Aptera in 2008, was strategically situated above Souda Bay for reasons of security but is not a typical Cretan village with narrow alleyways and touching houses. Here each house had a fair amount of land around it so the village is spread over a large area, hence the name Megala Chorafia (big fields).
Now with about 300 inhabitants it forms a single community with Kalami.
Around the platea are three tavernas.
Nikos, owner of ‘Ta Aptera' has responsibility for taking care of Ancient Aptera and if you can speak Greek he will tell you about its history and new excavations. ‘Cretian Corner' offers weekly coffee morning/talks and occasional exhibitions. In the summer there is Cretan Dancing on Saturday evenings led by the owner's son and you will be encouraged to join in. It's great fun!
From the platea a small side road leads to Ancient Aptera and the Turkish fortress, another down to the National Road. On the way down you will pass the chapel of Ag. Joannis dedicated to St John the Baptist which celebrates its name day on June 24th. The story goes that a thief came to the chapel but before he could steal anything was turned into stone. Proof of this is the rock shaped in human form outside the church.
This village is named after the bamboo growing at the rivers edge which was used in the past to build huts in Kalyves.
Kalami is situated on a low hill overlooking Souda bay and the Akrotiri peninsular. It is a wonderful experience just to sit here, away from the tourists, to watch the sun go down, a gleaming white ferry leaving for Pireas and perhaps even a submarine sidling, half submerged, through the blue water. The old, friendly kafenion is a fine place to enjoy this fascinating scenery whilst sipping an iced coffee or glass of wine.
The former Turkish fortress of ‘Izzedin' is in the upper part of the village and still carries the Turkish inscription ‘1884' above the entrance but today belongs to the Greek military. During the time of the Junta, 1967 - 74, it was a prison for political prisoners, now only ghosts live there.
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