Potamies village is an authentic Cretan village in the municipality of Hersonissos, at an altitude of 170m with 522 inhabitants. Potamies is one of the first villages in the hinterland of the Municipality of Hersonissos and is located 10 km from the Port of Hersonissos. Specifically, it is located on the right bank of the river of Aposelemis, which flows through Lagada between olive groves and the wild vegetation of the river from which has been named after the village. The main occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture, while a significant percentage of mainly young people are employed in tourist sector in the areas of Hersonissos and Malia.
Potamies is a verdant village with a natural beautiful landscape. It is surrounded by verdant hills with olive groves, oleanders, cypresses, quince trees, mulberry trees, lemon trees, orange trees and plane trees. The visitor will feel tranquil in this landscape. The wider area is defined as an area of forest vegetation, rich fauna and rare birdlife. The bigger part of this place constitutes the Proposed Area of Community Interest “Dikti” and the Area of Community Protection “Dikti” of the Natura Network 2000.
The route to the first settlement of Potamies is pleasant and quite interesting as a clear picture of the tourist development in this landscape is offered. Large areas of this landscape have been utilized for the operation of a golf club as well as of a water park.
Once the visitor enters the village, there is the Monastery of Gouverniotissa built on a verdant hill and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is probably dated in the second half of the 14th BC century. The temple is built in the shape of a cross (cruciform with a dome). It was probably built after 961 by a Byzantine ruler who arrived on the island after Crete liberation from the Arabs by Nicephorus Phocas. In the area, where the monastery is located, there were Byzantine settlements of which the ruins are still preserved. Nowadays, the monastery can be visited and besides the church, the visitor will see, in the restored 19th-century monks’ cells, the Exhibition of Ecclesiastical Relics where parts of the Gouverniotissa altarpieces, important relics, copies of the Gouverniotissa icons and others are exhibited. In the monastery buildings, there is also a special area provided for the hosting of periodical exhibitions while east of the monastery, there is a botanical garden where one can see the flora of Crete.
The one-room church of the Transfiguration of the Savior or “Afentis Christos” is located just a few meters away from the main road, on the old road leading to the monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa and is built in the 15th century having rare frescoes on its walls. The temple celebrates on 6th of August.
At the location “Xerokamares”, the imposing remains of the ancient Aqueduct of the area are distinguished. It’s an important work, considering its usability of that time and due to the archaeological findings, it has been revealed that the ancient city of Hersonissos was entirely irrigated by this aqueduct.
One more attraction of the area is the Aposelemis dam, which is located 500 meters away from Potamies settlement. It is the largest water supply project in Crete and it was created in order to meet the needs of the north parts of eastern Crete, specifically from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos, Lassithi. The dam gathers the waters of the Lasithi Mountains and nowadays, is the largest artificial lake on the island, where birds of various species have been sheltered by turning the area into an important wetland.
The village has many traditional cafes, in comparison with its size, where the visitor can taste the authentic Cretan cuisine under the shade of the huge mulberry trees. The inhabitants are hospitable and thus they preserve the unique Cretan hospitality.
The village is full of life mainly during the first 15 days of August. The Cultural Association organizes various events each year to such as theatrical performances, concerts and local celebrations in order to preserve tradition. The cultural events take place mostly in the well-formed area outside the monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa. Local people and visitors have the opportunity to get to know some basic elements of the tradition and the history of the village.