The village of Episkopi is 18 km southeast of the city of Heraklion and 8.5 km south of Kokkini Hani village. It is a small village with pure beauty waiting for the visitor to explore it. It is built at an altitude of 350 meters in an amphitheatrical position in one of the many hills of the area alternating with vineyards and olive groves and thus forming the relief of the whole area. The main occupations of the inhabitants of Episkopi are olive cultivation, viticulture and livestock farming.
The name Episkopi, which is maintained until today, is due to the fact that the bishopric of Herronissos was transferred here, after the repossession of Crete by Nekiphoros Phokas in 961 and the end of the Arabic domination (824-961). In a document of Duke’s Archive of Chandax in 1386, the village was referred to as Piskopi, while in 1583 it was referred to as Piskopi Chiersonisso with 690 inhabitants by Castrofilaca.
According to archaeological findings, the first habitation in the area of Episkopi was documented in the Minoan era. The antiquities found have been since Middle Minoan period and the village continued to be inhabited during the Late Minoan period (1600-1480 BC). A Minoan quarry has been excavated in the area while shells of the Minoan period have also been found. Scattered findings from Classical Period and Roman times have been found too. Findings from this area are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. More important and impressive, of course, are the Byzantine monuments of Episkopi, scattered in the village. This fact is due to the historical importance of the settlement as a bishopric from 961-1900.
The oldest church in the area is Panagia Kera Limniotissa, an 11th-century temple. Many churches in the village are chronologically placed in the 14th and 15th centuries such as Agios Antonios, Agios Ioannis, Agia Paraskevi, Michael Archangel, Agios Georgios, Faneromeni etc – all of them being decorated with particularly remarkable frescoes. Agios Minas is the parish church of the village and is located at the central square with its construction being placed in the 19th century (1882-1884). The findings of the excavations made under the church floor brought to light the Byzantine tombs and proved that at that place there was a temple of the first Byzantine period.
In Episkopi, visitors can visit Panagiotakis Park, a green and recreation area. In this municipal park, there are a children’s playground and an outdoor theater which hosts various art and culture events in the summer. In addition, Argirakio Ethnological War Museum founded by Michalis Argyrakis is located in Episkopi and has been operated since 1994.
In the traditional taverns of the area as well as in the cafes, the visitor will have the chance to taste unique traditional flavors. If the visitor wants something different from the intense pace offered by the surrounding tourist resorts then Episkopi is offered as an alternative recommendation and in combination with the local hospitality, is the ideal destination.