You never know where a visit to Anogia might lead you or what turn it might take.
It is an area rich in culture and history offering numerous points of attraction. Our tour starts from the central square of Agios Georgios, a timeless landmark. Despite the high temperature, a cool, invigorating breeze is constantly there, reminding us that we are on the slopes of Psiloritis.
First stop: the legendary café Mihalos Skoulas, perhaps the oldest one in the area. The bounteous shade offered by the mulberry trees and the serene surrounding atmosphere will make you feel at ease, ready to leave all your worries behind and spend a whole day here, enjoying a form of catharsis. Written on pots, chairs and signs, inspirational life and happiness quotes offer food for thought and brief introspection. An irresistible accompaniment for all of the above is a cup of ember-roasted Greek coffee and a nice piece of freshly baked galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie).
Shortly afterwards, take a short scenic stroll and wander through the numerous shops selling traditional elaborate weavings.
A great many families are engaged in the craft of weaving, passing the knowledge from generation to generation. You will find impressive embroideries and many embroidered garments. However, the region’s art history is not exclusively focused on weaving, but also on music. Legendary artists and musicians have been born in Anogia, including Nikos Xylouris, whose house is still open to the public and can be visited free of charge. In essence, it is simply a room in which Xylouris was born and raised, small in size, but full of traces of his extraordinary personality.
On display are countless photographs from his personal and professional life, many of which are unpublished, tributes from publications and various memorabilia. Located directly opposite the main square, it is very easy to find.
Before leaving, make one last stop at the traditional tavern “Aetos”, an ideal destination for meat-lovers and, according to locals, a first-class choice if you want to try the famous “antikristo” meat. For the record, “antikristo” is a Cretan method of grilling meat. The latter –usually young lamb or more rarely goat- is cut vertically into four pieces, which are salted and carefully skewered one by one on a thin, pointed spit. They are then cooked facing each other for several hours, depending on the intensity of the fire, the air and the distance between the pieces. The process is elaborate and it certainly takes an experienced grillmeister like Mr Manolis to get it right. He has been in this business since he was 18 years old and now has over 45 years of experience in the art of grilling. Merry, agile and aware of the current state of affairs, he prepares the meat, while we wait patiently, sipping excellent tsikoudia (strong grape-based alcoholic beverage) and feasting on delicious homemade appetizers. As it turns out, the slightly complicated process is totally worth it, as “antikristo” is simply out of this world.
Anogia is an unconventional destination – a place where traditional architecture coexists with a more modern accommodation aesthetic – and appeals to both food lovers and those who love hiking or mountaineering. And because of the wide range of activities on offer, Anogia is a place that is not catered for a specific type of visitor. Different people will gain different things at the end of their visit. Perhaps this is the very nature of travel and the experiences it offers. To subject us to situations that cannot be explained in words and that live in our memories for a lifetime.
Traditional café Mihalos Skoulas: Anogia 74051, +30 28340 31396
“Aetos” tavern: 13th Augoustou 1944 17, +30 28340 31262