Mochos: An Escape from Mass Tourism
For those in search of relaxing and a dose of authentic experiences, the vast Cretan landscape offers a colorful palette of opportunities. Other than stunning beaches and cities rich in history and culture, Crete is also home to unspoiled inland villages. One of the closest to Heraklion city is called Mochos. Located about 41 km from the city center, the municipality operates a daily bus to the village. A visit there will allow you to escape from the coastal crowds while enjoying a unique atmosphere, discovering another face of Crete.
Traditional houses from the 16th century populate the village of Mochos. Their courtyards are known for its fragrant flowers and the hamlet for the hospitality of the villagers.
There are different Byzantine churches to visit, with important old icons to see. The main church is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to Agia Paraskevi, and it is in the central square. This temple is home to an iconostasis of the Virgin dating back to 1820.
At lunchtime, a visit to the main square poses visitors a hard choice. There are several tavernas with excellent dishes. They usually arrange their little tables on the streets, under the shade of lush trees. Locals love to mingle with visitors to enjoy tables full of inexpensive and delicious local specialties.
A Bit of Local History
This Cretan mountain settlement has a history which dates back to the second Byzantine period, its harbor town was Stalida. The village already existed back in the 8th century and according to different research, the first inhabitants were monks. Ancient records demonstrate that the village was called Mogho in the Middle Ages. Back in 1583, only 451 people lived there. Apparently, not much has changed from those times.
Hiking, Cycling and Herbs finding
For those who love hiking, it is possible to reach the village departing from the seaside village of Stalida, and going up a mountain leading to Mochos’ main square. Along this road, visitors can enjoy the magnificent sights that alternate the blue sea of Crete and the imposing mountains. Once past the village square, the path continues to Malia, and then to Sissi seaside village for fresh fish.
Another good idea is to visit the village and the surrounding area by bike (there are tours available in Mochos). It’s possible to go cycling through pastures, olive groves, vineyards, and the narrow alleys of the village. While cycling it is possible to learn about the local herbs and the delicious pies that characterize Crete.
A great experience would also be to visit the Byzantine Monastery of Panayia Gouverniotissa, with a herbs farm open to visitors. In addition, there one can discover a great deal of the Cretan herbs large variety.
Once in the area, don’t omit to taste the traditional ‘Hortopitakia‘ with local herbs and vegetables. They are small Cretan pies with spring herbs and vegetables such as spinach, thyme, oregano, rosemary, fennel, and parsley.
When visiting Crete, staying in a comfortable hotel in town will allow reaching any village in the area. Whether you choose the convenience of public transport or you rather rent a car to explore on your own, nothing compares to a day starting with a morning hike in the mountains with an exciting night in town. Staying in the central Lato Boutique Hotel, a few steps away from Heraklion central station, but also providing parking facilities, will allow visitors to experience the area in the best of ways.