Aitania Village

The village of Aitania is located in the Municipality of Hersonissos and is 20km from Heraklion. It is built on a hill, west of the village of Episkopi and east of the river of Karteros, at an altitude of 255m. The name of the village is believed to come from a corruption of the ancient city Diatonion. Diatonion was located between Knossos and Lyttos whose ruins are located northwest of the village. The earliest surviving reference for Aitania is found in a Venetian document of 1212 where Aitania was referred to as Icania and was a property of Monastery of Santa del Sinai and by Castrofilaca as Itagnia Cato with 112 inhabitants and Itangnia Apano with 85 inhabitants in 1583.

West of Aitania in 1954, the archaeologist N. Platon excavated, at the site of “Fonias”, a small, cave-shaped carved tomb with about thirty jars of Geometric times, exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Particular reference is made to an intact amphora urn of Aitania which has got a usual linear decoration and metopes with a pattern of a palm tree in its neck. It is a symbol expressing the deep faith of people of that time in the unceasing revival of life and is connected with the sanctity of life and faith in its after-death continuation.

At the entrance of the village, the small church of Panagia Kardiotissa is worth visiting. The church is dedicated to the Nativity of Virgin Mary and is a Byzantine small church built on the top of a hill with magnificent view of the area. South of the village, on a rural road, the visitor can see a small and picturesque chapel of Agia Paraskevi, located in an area with many cypresses and olive trees. The interior of the church is full of remarkable frescoes of the 14th century.

For those who love nature and hiking, there is Karteros-Aitania Gorge. It is a gorge of unique beauty with rare species of plants and birds starting from Aitania and its paths are full of vegetation, caves and streams.

Moreover, the visitor can walk in the picturesque narrow streets of the village and get rested in its central square enjoying Cretan dishes and raki in the traditional cafes under the shade of mulberry trees and oleanders.

Every year on the celebration of Virgin Mary on 15th of August, the Cultural Association of Aitania organizes a Cretan feast in the picturesque square of the village.