Artos

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Agios Konstantinos is built on a wide plateau and and spreads at a magical site, full of olive trees, vineyards and locust trees, cypress trees, oak trees among others. The plateau is cut by shallow gorges where you can see plane trees (platanus), oleanders and other aquatic plants and you can rest and drink water from the numerous small and large faucets. One can be easily enchanted by the color and the smells of the area and the songs of thousands of fancy birds that peak during spring.

Agios Konstantinos existed as a settlement since ancient times, if we consider that for example in its “Acropolis”, on the location that now is the semi-ruined church of Saint Helias, there was a pre-Christianic temple of goddess Artemis. The previous temple that existed on the site of Agios Konstantinos was built on 913 AC. At the Byzantine period during the division of Crete in 12 principates (in 1182) by the emperor Alexios Komninos the 2nd, Agios Konstantinos and its surrounding district was given to Chortatzis. The village lived its best times when many noble Greeks and Venetians built there their holiday retreat properties and transformed the area into a holiday resort. Some of them had their primary residence in the village. Most known amonst them were families of Mussuri, Vlastos, Kontos, but also rich feudal lords such as the Barroccis, most famous of which was Francisco Barocci, Mathematician, Philosopher, Theologist and writer. His works still grace the Oxford Bodleian library.

We gave the name “Artos” to our apartments to bring back the memory of another important settlement, about 700 meters north of Agios Konstantinos, where our family farm is situated today in a location of exceptional beauty. The village “Artos” no longer exists unfortunately, but from the extent of the ruins we can see it once had the size of a small town. Three Churches are still standing, reminding us of those days. These are of Saint George‘s, Mother Mary’s and Jesus Christ’s. The latter was discovered by our family after WW II, while the first has still paintings and as the κτητορική επιγραφή αναφέρει ”the church was refurbished in 1401”. The department of antiquities has just finished the restoration of the small church of St. George in 2009.

At the age 1648, the Turks, led by Husein Passa, attacked Crete from the area of Chania. After they captured Chania, they headed to Rethymnon. Artos was the only area that they finally could not capture. Husein was misled to believe that the enemies of the Venetians would be disinterested to him as well, because the enemies of the Venetic tyranny where of course enemies of the Turks….

So, a year after he captured Rethymnon, more determined than ever and reinforced with new army, he came back to attack Artos. On a Sunday morning he laid siege at the village, and he set up canons at the today called “kanonolakos” site. From there, they shoot indiscriminately the village. The residents repulsed the attack for the first days, and at the breaches of the walls they killed hundreds of soldiers. But the residents knew that this was an uneven battle. Artos finally fell, the residents were brutally killed, the village was burnt and destroyed and the Ottoman Empire prohibited from then after the rebuilding of the village!! So, Artos was left up until today uninhabited and ruined. Only nature after time, flourished with laurels and myrtles as a tribute to those heroes who fought to defend the village.

The residents of Agios Konstantinos village are hospitable and enterprising, evidence of which are the numerous small businesses that exist in the village: 4 restaurants (tavernas), 3 coffee shops (kafeneion), 2 mini-markets, a butcher’s shop, a grocery store, small sausage producing units, carpenters, many agricultural and farming units and now, our own tourist accommodation unit named “Artos”.