Crete's Heraklion (Iraklion) Prefecture Overview Page Sixteen
Heraklion Capital of Crete
Inland from the east coast
The village of Krasi (which means 'wine') is famous more for its spring water, said to have healing powers (especially for stomach problems). This village is 3km from the fork of the Hersonissos and Stalidha roads. The spring is under stone arcades under a huge plane tree. Like the ancient plane tree on the island of Kos in the Dodecanese islands (said to be the oldest in Europe) this tree has been said to be the largest (as well as being two thousand years old).
Farther on, before the village of Keras is the convent of Panayia Kardhiotissa (Our Lady of the Heart), which has an annual celebration on 8 September every year. There are wonderful frescoes inside which have been restored, and the buildings date from the 12th century. The frescoes had been painted over and were only discovered during the '60s. There is the copy of a 12th century icon, with legends surrounding it.
Beyond the village of Keras the views in the Dhiktean mountains become progressively more stunning, with the 1100 meter Mt. Karfi casting a dark spell. Its name means 'nail' and describes its sharp peak. After the 12th century BC, the last of the Minoans fled to refuges including this one, where they tried to keep alive their culture in the face of Dorian incursions and for this reason this peak is considered a Minoan sanctuary. The road continues climbing till, at Seli Ambelou one reaches a pass with stone windmills on the high ridges above and soon the Lasithi Plateau is revealed before you as well as the highest peaks of the Dhikti range, Mt. Dhikti itself at 2148 meters. One can sit down at a taverna here, eat grilled lamb, and enjoy the mountain views as well as those towards the sea.