The emergency shelter of Istron


Amigdali near Kalo Horio
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During the dark years that Crete was in war its inhabitants moved to draft hidden settlements to protect themselves from the enemies. These villages were almost always buit in high plateaus in the mountains, in canyons or in very steep shores (mainly in South Crete). The coastline of Asteroussia is one of the most impressive examples of many places where the locals used to hide in times of war. Each current settlement that still exists on the map of Crete had its own place where endangered people moved in harsh times. Most of these settlements were very roughly built and now have disappeared. Others are still preserved to remind us of a completely unknown part of the history of Crete.

One of the best preserved is the settlement Amygdali, founded and inhabited during the German occupation. It is located on the hillside that stretches above Kalo at province Merambelo, to the north of the Monastery Faneromeni. In order to access Amigdali we have to drive in a bad dirt track starting from the beach of Istron. Because of fear experienced by locals during the German occupation, they were forced to leave the fertile plain of Kalo Chorio and to climb up the barren mountain where they felt safer. They formed terraces in the steep slopes to cultivate grain and built threshing floors, still visible. A few meters south of Amigdali there is a small water spring that was used for watering the settlement. Homes were built with very small rooms and very close together so as to form a fortified settlement. But what is really impressive is the site chosen for its construction. This is an area between two elongated rocky formations which work as an exterior wall, defining the residential area, while usually one wall of each house is the natural rock which rises abruptly from the earth. Visitors can still see the ruins of the houses, where roofs have collapsed, while the stone walls in many cases are preserved in good condition

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