Crete features 650 miles of coastline, it’s a sea lover’s dream, but it is also a mountainous island, with impressive mountain landscapes and scenic villages, perfect for explorations off the beaten track. If you want to take a break from your daily pool-and-beach routine and experience something different, follow the uphill, winding road from Malia and drive to the village of Krasi, on the foot of Mount Selena. As the road ascends, in rocky scenery with evergreen oaks and kermes oaks, take your time to admire the panoramic view of the north coastline of Hersonissos.
Krasi lies at an altitude of 600 m. οn a verdant hillside. Park your car at the village entrance and start your exploration on foot. Krasi’s cobbled lanes are lined with humble old houses, built according to the traditional Cretan architecture, and blossoming yards. As soon as you reach the village’s central square you’ll see the trademarks of Krasi: three majestic plane trees and Megali Vrisi, an impressive stone-built fountain that pours potable spring water all year round.
The biggest plane tree of the three, right in the middle of the square, has a perimeter of 24 meters and it is considered to be the oldest in Crete (it is estimated to be more than 2000 years old) and one of the 5 biggest trees of Europe. It is officially proclaimed a protected Monument of Nature. As you stand in awe in its welcoming cool shade, consider this: Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan writer, used to enjoy the same shade and find inspiration for his writing. The writer spent several summers between 1910 and 1920 in Krasi, with his wife Galatea Alexiou and his intellectual friends, forming a “literary fellowship”. The portraits and the inscription right over the middle arch of Megali Vrisi refer to this fellowship.
Walking around, you’ve probably worked up a real appetite. You’re in the right place since Krasi is also famous for its traditional taverns that serve Cretan specialties and mouthwatering oven-baked roasts. After satisfying your taste buds, you may continue your exploration to Lassithi plateau or the neighbouring village of Avdou.