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Aptera, West Crete

There has been a settlement in Aptera since antiquity and the ruins of different epochs, Mycenae, Dorian, Hellenic up to the Byzantines have all left their mark here. From time immemorial a plentiful supply of water, a terrific view of the Souda Bay and a strategically important location were important reasons for settling here. The remains visible today are spread out over a large secured area. The well-preserved Roman cisterns, which are partly built underground, are awe-inspiring. For us as laymen the sheer dimensions of these excavations are impressive. Aptera is not as well known as Knossos or Phaistos to package holidaymakers so it is nearly devoid of visitors. No less interesting, another epoch or rather epochs.

Nowadays the locals live in Megala Chorafia about 2 km away and restored farm houses, modern villas, a small village square with three good tavernas (say hello to Susan) and a "supermarket" shape the village. Our tip for a holiday off the beaten track is the Areti Country Hotel with its studios and apartments and their wonderful view of the Souda Bay. The Romans knew a good place to live.

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