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Rethymno adventures: Visit the mountain village of Anogia

Perched more than 750 metres up the northern face of Psiloritis, Anogia has a poignant history. Burned by the Turks for its resistance to their rule in the 19th century, and by the Germans in WWII, Anogia is synonymous with heroism, resistance and sacrifice. This is a place where memory runs deep.

No wonder it’s also at the heart of the story of Cretan music. Anogia-born Nikos Xylouris (1936-1980) was one of Crete’s most famous singers, composers and lyra players, who elevated a local folk music tradition to national and international prominence. Having witnessed as a child the brutal occupation of Crete by the Germans in WWII, in the 1970s Xylouris’s songs of protest against the Greek military junta became an inspiration for those who opposed the dictatorship across Greece.

The Nikos Xylouris house, his birthplace, is in the lower village at Plateia Livadi, and is now a small museum run by his grandchildren. Its photographs and memorabilia offer a fascinating insight into this important Cretan cultural icon. Staying on the artistic path, don’t miss the small Grylios museum nearby, presenting the work of local artist Alkiviades Skoulas (1902-1996) – a shepherd (like Xylouris) who in old age became a painter and wood sculptor.

The statue of an unknown solider in the peaceful Plateia Armi honours Anogia’s role in WWII. As a centre of resistance against Nazi occupation the town paid a terrible price for sheltering Allied troops and assisting Allied resistance activities during the German occupation. On August 13, 1944 the town was razed to the ground by the Germans and dozens of inhabitants killed as a reprisal for its activities. A poignant commemorative ceremony is held every year to mark the event.

Today Anogia is a rich example of traditional rural Cretan culture – authentic and welcoming, it’s a place of inspiring history and character.

 

Top tavernas

Arodamos (2834 031100)

This large modern restaurant in the upper village is famous for its food and warm hospitality. Specialities include grilled lamb and goat and pasta with anthotiros cheese.

Aetos Taverna (2834 031262)

Aetos is known for a Cretan favourite – antichristo,  delicious slow-roasted lamb.This traditional taverna has a giant charcoal grill out front and awesome mountain views.

Ta Skalomata (2834 031316)

Ta Skalomata serves great traditional favourites accompanied by great views across the valley. Fine grilled meats, homemade wine and bread, and tasty vegetarian alternatives.

Cafe Michalos (2834 031396)

Opposite the Nikos Xylouris house this friendly kafeneio in the Plateia Livadi is a great place to take your bearings, grab a coffee and watch the Anogia world go by.

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