Port Town in Crete
lies in the western part of the bay of the same name, framed by the peninsulas of Gramvousa and Rodopou, in the Far West of Crete's north coast. Counting some 5,000 inhabitants, the town is after Chania the second biggest municipality in the governmental district of Chania. A settlement named Kissamos is said to be known since the Minoan times.
During the Venetian epoch, a fortress was raised which was named Kastelli Kissamos. As the Venetians however built quite a number of fortifications in Crete, there are several "Kastellis" so in the middle of the 19th century the name Kissamos became official. But this does not keep the inhabitants of West Crete to continue saying "Kastelli" only.
In Kastelli Kissamos there is everything what makes a genuine Cretan small town complete: Restaurants, tavernas, street cafes, doctors' offices, pharmacies, a small hospital, post and bank offices, a high school, supermarkets and shops of many kind. The town is also the episcopal see of the famous bishop Ireneus who - among others - founded the Orthodox Academy of Crete and the ANEK ferry boat company.
Crete's westernmost town has two ports. There is a fishing port and marina 1 km north-west of the town center, and a ferry port another 2 kms north-west. From there, excursion boats go during the season to the former pirates' fortress on the island of Gramvousa which lies west of Gramvousa peninsula, and to the beach of Balos.
There is also an all-year round weekly ferry boat service via Kythira to Kalamata on the Peloponnes, and on to Piraeus. On the sport there are some small hotels and snug holiday apartments, and a small sandy beach is located by the western town border. Just behind the ferry port, there is a larger sandy beach in the small bay of Trahilos.
When continuing on the same road via Platanos, one will arrive to the dream beach of Falassarna on the west coast (18 kms). It is anyway advisable to get a rental car e.g. by www.eurocars-crete.com straight from the airport and to return it there as well, as it does not only allow you to explore the fascinating landscape of West Crete but also makes you independent from the endless rides on the transfer bus.
Since 2006, Kastelli Kissamos has an archeologic museum where they present discoveries from the 5th century B.C. on. Among others there are some most beautiful Roman mosaics. The museum's Cerberus unfortunately did not allow us to take a photo of the rooms. But do not hesitate to have a tour of the museum anyway: It really pays.
Text and photos by Ingo H. Dietrich
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