The sandy beach of Paleochora

'Old Main Village' is the name of the beautiful village that stretches out on a flat, long peninsula into the Libyan Sea. The long tip of the peninsula is occupied by the ruins of a fort built by the Venetians as early as 1282, which is now a popular meeting place, especially at sunset. Dianthus, thyme and a few tamarisk form an overgrown garden.

South of the fort is the town proper, with an almost dead-straight main road running the length of it. To the west, Paleochora has a long, wide sandy beach where some old tamarisk trees also provide natural shade. To the east, the shoreline fortification of large boulders merges into a shadeless pebble and shingle beach.

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With over 2000 inhabitants, Paleochora is the largest settlement on Crete's south coast after Ierapetra in the far east of the island. Tourists have been known here for over 50 years. The centre of communication for all guests and residents is still the main street, which is closed to all traffic in the evenings from about 6 pm. It then turns into a huge bar and tavern. At the main crossroads just below the stairway to the fortress, people sit until the early hours of the morning - Paleochora has retained the charm of a traditional Cretan town, especially in the evenings and at night.

Even before tourism, however, agriculture is the main source of income for the people in this region. Tomatoes and early vegetables are grown in countless sun-heated greenhouses. This is why there is a little more life in Paleochora in the winter months than in many other coastal towns in the south. For sun-seeking Central Europeans, there is hardly a better place on Crete to spend the winter.

A very interesting cultural-historical aspect of European history is illuminated by the excellent exhibition 'The Acritans of Europe' on the upper floor of the local cultural centre, which is unfortunately only open in summer and even then not reliably. Its theme is the heroic sagas and epics of the pan-European Middle Ages around El Cid, King Arthur, Siegfried, Roland and their Byzantine counterpart Akritas, as well as their after-effects in Greek folk art and folk music. Large-format photo and text panels provide very detailed information in Greek and English on the many aspects of the subject, showing reproductions of icons and illuminations, weavings and stone reliefs. Instruments of folk music, saddles and horseshoes, shadow puppets of the popular Karajósis theatre round off the subject matter.


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