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.
The Venetian church of Virgin Mary (Panagia Kera or Faneromeni) is located near the entrance of the town of Archanes. The name Faneromeni (Revealed) is taken after a legend that writes as follows: Once a girl called Maria saw a light at the point where the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary was hidden. The girl then built the first temple.
The district of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) at Arhanes takes its name after the church of the Holy Trinity of the 14th century. The frescoes of the church have been restored.
The church that stands high at Archanes is the double-aisled basilica of St. Nicholas. It was built in 1857 with a combination of styles inspired by Venetian and Ottoman elements.
The church of Agia Paraskevi is located next to a green ravine, at a site that overlooks the south side of Arhanes town. What makes this church very important, are the few but very important frescoes preserved on its walls dating back from the medieval age.
The church of Saint John Rigologos (Saint John the Forerunner) is located at an elevated position wooded with cypress, plane and pine trees, south of Archanes. The church has been built under a rock shelter and the surrounding place is perfect for a picnic and hiking from Archanes.
The church of St George is a three aisled basilica with a raised middle aisle. Its foundation dates back from the 13th to 14th century and is the largest frescoed church of Archanes. During the last renovation (18th-19th century) the gradients of the roof were decreased and altered its form.
The very old church of Michael the Archangel is located south of Archanes, bearing frescoes of 1315. A mural depicts the founder of the church holding a model of the church and there are depictions of sinners in hell.
The Byzantine church of Saint John the Theologian in Archanes called Manganitis after the public stone press (magana) that existed here for wine production. The Venetians called it DE SAN ZUANNE THEOLOGO DETTO STO MANGALO.