With pleasantly mild weather and a rather long hot season, Crete is the perfect island to visit when summer is over. In fact, a visit to Crete during fall can be perfect to discover its unique landscapes. Days are still long, allowing for long walks in beautiful gorges without enduring the extreme heat of August. Theriso is one of the many gorges you can visit on the island, a village full of history, tastes and local traditions.
Theriso has a glorious past, as it played a decisive role both during the period of the Turkish occupation as well as in the years leading to the independence of the island.
Theriso, Some History
Little more than a thousand residents currently live in the town of Theriso, in the prefecture of Chania, on the western area of Crete. This heroic mountain village, located on top of the homonymous gorge, has a glorious past as it played a decisive role both during the period of the Turkish occupation as well as in the years leading to the independence of the island.
Theriso is also the birthplace to Eleftherios Venizelos’ mother, and it was here that the leader gathered his Revolutionary Assembly, declaring the revolution against the autocratic regime imposed by the Great Powers, thus opening the way towards the union of Crete with Greece.
The 14-kilometer ride that takes up to the gorge is one of the most breathtaking landscapes on the island. Impressive hair-turn pins, green lush vegetation and imposing mountain walls will surround the visitor in a magnificent scenery. A completely different landscape anyone might expect from the traditional Greek island.
In Theriso it is also possible to take a look at a very curious species, the Cretan (or Minoan) cow. Cows might not be a surprise in many other parts of the world, even in some other Greek islands, such as Naxos. However, it’s commonly believed that not cattle is to be found in Crete. Well, that’s not completely true.
With a shortage of rainfall during many months per year, goat and sheep have better adapted to the local weather; however, Theriso is also home to this smaller breed of cattle. The Cretan cow is light brown, has little corns, and a black circle around the eyes.
“During Fall, a favorite treat is the local yogurt, served together with a generous quantity of top quality local thyme honey.” A Feast for the Senses
Driving through the Theriso Gorge, other must-taste in the area are the dishes that Stelios prepares in Dounias Taverna, in the small nearby village of Drakonas.
With a slow-food philosophy on his mind, Stelios was never expecting the success he has reached with his simple yet very tasty food. There are no fixed menu in Dounias, dishes change every day according to what his land has to offer.
From the famous moussaka, stuffed vegetables and Greek pasta, to the less ordinary snails, ladotyri (cheese aged in olive oil), and many other proposals including meat and fresh vegetables.
During Fall, a favorite treat is the local yogurt, served together with a generous quantity of top quality local thyme honey and a bunch of fresh nuts you could even pick by yourself around the area.