When visiting Rethymnon, visit a beautiful mountain village called Argyroupoli which was once a powerful Roman stronghold.
Ancient Lappa is Present-Day Argyroupoli
Argyroupoli is a mountain hamlet that is 27km southwest from Rethymnon and is considered one of the most interesting and unique mountain villages in all of Crete. It was once called Lappa and is still referred to as Ancient Lappa. Today, travelers can discover its ancient history while exploring its waterfalls, old mills and the lush landscape.
A Brief History of Argyroupoli
According to Greek mythology, this part of Crete was founded by Greek hero Agamemnon. During ancient times, the Lappa territory stretched from present day Rethymnon and touched the Libyan Sea on the south coast of Crete. It was a powerful city and its leaders were making alliances with other Cretan strongholds such as Knossos near Heraklion as well as cities across the Mediterranean.
Later on, Lappa became a Roman stronghold. During the dramatic Final War of the Roman Republic, Lappa’s leaders sided with the victorious Roman leader Octavian (who fought against rival Mark Antony). As a result, Lappa flourished. The region won special privileges and self-dependence. During this time, known as the Late Roman period, Lappa grew into an impressive and beautiful city complete with an array of bath houses, aqueducts and mosaic-laden villas. Archaeologists also dug up sculptures, statues, tools, mosaics, pottery and many minted coins.
By the 14th century, it was a rebel command post and became a safe haven for rebels who fought against the Venetian rulers of the time. Finally, under Turkish rule, it was renamed Gaidouropoli and by the early 19th century that name was changed to its present-day name of Argyroupoli.
What to See in Argyroupoli
Following millennia of fantastic and dramatic history, the town has become a quiet place known for the stunning lush mountain landscapes that surround it. It’s a wonderful day trip to take from all points in Crete. Here are some things you want to see in Argyropolis:
Waterfalls of Argyroupoli – There are many fantastic waterfalls surrounding the region. At one point, all that water power was used to grind grain at many traditional wind mills. In ancient times, aqueducts were built here.
Hiking Paths – There are several fine hiking paths to take. The Mouselas River Springs trail leads through natural springs, a cave which houses a church and visit the cave which houses Agios Ioannis (also known as Agia Dynami) church. Water that flows from this church is said to be miracle water.
Fish Taverns – Argyroupoli is famous for its fish taverns. The seating areas are quite unique, set among flowing waterfalls and under the cool shade of leafy towering trees. The taverns specialize in serving river fish, grilled to perfection with generous sides. They also serve local all-natural spring water which is pure and clear.
Cretan Gastronomy Center – This Center was founded by the Region of Crete with an aim to connect the primary sector to tourism and to promote Cretan Gastronomy through educational and experience based programs. For more information please visit: Cretan Gastronomy Center
Episkopi Beach – If you’re looking for a cool dip, locals head to this beach which is a few minutes’ drive away from the village.
Pente Parthenes Church – This is a beautiful church in town that has a vaulted tomb dating back to Roman times. Its name means the Five Saint Virgins, who are said to have died in the area. Their names were Thekla, Marianna, Athena, Martha and Maria.
Greater Rethymnon is dotted with fantastic villages full of history and beauty just like Argyropolis. Have you ever visited a historic mountain village during your travels?