Archanes is a picturesque small town, built at an altitude of 380 meters in the middle of a basin bounded by Giouchtas range and Kefala. It is run through by Kaeratos stream, that later forms the gorge of Knossos. Archanes is 14 kilometers away from the city of Heraklion and only 7 kilometers from the Palace of Knossos. The wider area of Archanes is most significant for its numerous archaeological sites.
The colorful village has been prized by the European Union as model for residential development. You could visit the museums of the town and discover the region's history through the findings of the Minoan and Byzantine Era and the folk art exhibits. Also many wonderful architectural buildings and Byzantine churches affirm the designation of Archanes as an ideal traditional settlement.
Visit the various restaurants and taverns at the central square to discover the world famous Cretan cuisine or the exquisite Archanes wines. Discover the methods the people of yester Crete used to produce their precious products, wine and olive oil, by visiting the traditional olive and wine presses. It is not surprising that the oldest wine press in the world has been found in Archanes. Why not participate in the summer harvesting of grapes during the celebration of the Archanes Farmer Festival and many more cultural activities.
For those of you that prefer trekking and walks in the nature, there’s a lot to choose from: walk up to the sacred mountain Jiouktas, where according to ancient mythology, Zeus, the father of Gods and Humans has been buried. Walk along E4 European trail from Profitis Ilias to Myrtia, explore the Archanes gorge under the thick shade of plane trees and sycamores and climb on the Fourni hill, where you’ll walk in a scenic pine wood and visit the ancient necropolis of Fourni.
Fourni is a small lush green hill next to the picturesque Arhanes village, about 12km south of Heraklion. It takes its name after the local homonym preminoan cemetery, next to Knossano Gorge. Fourni can be accessed through Kato Arhanes, where you’ll meet signs leading there.
At position Anemospilia, on the north slopes of Mount Jiouchtas, the archeologists G. and E. Sakellarakis located in 1979 a small sanctuary of Minoan Crete that surprised the global archaeological community. This small sanctuary offered the first indication of human sacrifices in Minoan Crete.
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes operates since 1993 in a beautiful neoclassical building that housed the first primary school of Archanes, at the district Tzami.
The archaeological site of Fourni is located on the homonym wooded hill, 17km south of Heraklion and west of Kato Archanes. To get there (the site is not open, but you could contact the guard), you could walk along the Minoan path starting from Kato Arhanes or drive to the beautiful artificial grove of Fourni.
Jiouchtas in the ancient times was considered a sacred mountain, mainly because it resembles a human face that looks to the sky from the northwest. Even today the human like mountain causes awe. According to the legend, this is the face of Zeus and the mountain is his tomb. Indeed the name Jiouchtas is a corruption of the Latin word for Zeus, Jupiter.
The palace of Archanes is located in the suburb Tourkogitonia of Archanes town. It came to light only in 1964 by Giannis Sakellarakis because, by then, only a few traces of the palace had been found. Some parts of the palace are still below the houses of modern Arhanes.
The cavern of Hosto Nero is found in the region Selia of Youchtas mountain near the road that leads to the top of Afentis Christos. It is located at an altitude of about 720 meters in the southern top of the holy mountain and in order for anyone to see it he/she has to enter through a narrow hole. This cavern has 3 rooms and many corridors that connect them all with the first room of 7 meters length that has enough light because of its big opening.