Gastronomy – local products

In the villages of Asterousia, small-scale farms produce local products continuing centuries-old traditions. They use natural methods handed down by previous generations, ensuring a harmonious existence between nature and humans.

You can experience the rural way of life here by participating in everyday agricultural activities. There are farms that offer these experiences in the northern part of the mountain, in Listaros and Pyrgos.

Another agrotouristic activity is the botanical observation of endemic species and various plants and flowers in spring. A particularly interesting activity is the gathering of edible wild greens (horta). There are many different varieties of those, including stamnagathi (cichοrium spinosum) and milk thistle. The locals know how to recognise them and cut them out of the ground; they include them as a vital ingredient for a balanced diet. 

Events – festivals – traditions

The inhabitants of Asterousia maintain habits, traditions, linguistic idioms and celebrations, all elements of a unique culture. Important events of community life are expressed through different festivals. For visitors, these public events can be a bridge of communication with the locals, a direct and authentic experience.

Celebrations associated with the religious cycle of life are the following:

  • Agios Georgios o Methystis on November 3. During this festival the orthodox priest blesses Saint George’s sfougata, and a procession takes place with people holding the icon of Saint George. Locals then hold equestrian festivals and a wine competition, and everything finishes with a traditional celebration.
  • Celebration of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) on September 14. For this festival the locals organise a hike to the peak Kofinas; there is a mass service, during which the priest blesses bread and the so-called militses of Kofinas (berries from local trees) which are then distributed to worshippers.
  • Agios Antonios on January 17 at the small church of Agios Antonios in the date palm tree forest of Agios Nikitas.
  • Agios Nikitas on September 15 in Achendrias.

On Easter Sunday a tradition of “burning Judas” takes place. Villagers prepare a big fire called founara about 4m high, and burn an effigy of the traitor of Jesus, Judas. 

Art production

In Asterousia, locals continue to practise many small-scale activities like weaving and basketry. Members of family-owned workshops collect raw materials locally like wool or reed, and then process them in cottage industries.

Looms survive to this day in the village of Pyrgos, preserving the weaving art and passing it on to younger generations. You can get information about the art of the loom in the central market of the village and the local KAPI (old home), where you can find looms and hand-woven textiles. The villagers create beautifully decorated woollen rugs, patanias (wall hangings), vouryies (traditional woven bags), cotton or linen bed sheets, towels, silk dresses and other clothing goods. The decorative themes and colours are characteristic of the area and are inspired by nature, human experiences, and the local culture.

The project is implemented through the Regional Development Fund of Crete
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