In Kato Vrisi, in Astritsi, someone can find a forgotten part of the paradise.
Administratively, Astritsi belongs to the Archanes- Asterousia Municipality, is 28 kilometers from Heraclion and built 410 meters above the sea. The main occupation of the 390 residents of the village is agriculture.
The settlement is famous for the number of the cultural festivities, as every summer a cultural camping is taken place in Kato Vrisi.
KATO VRISI, A PARADISE ON EARTH
“Come and admire the small gorge of Astritsi, the place where God sleeps every night”. The folk Cretan couplet of Giorgos Chronakis welcomes the visitors and prepares them to enjoy the grandeur of nature.
The small gorge of Kato Vrisi is a narrow and forested valley between mountains. In the area, there are many natural springs that help people water their crop.
Two large caves were in the area, the one collapsed and today is a square, while the other one has undergone many morphological changes. The second one is called Neraidospilios and is connected directly with the myths of the area. Some years ago, many residents from the Lasithi plateau had found shelter in those caves as they were searching for more fertile places to live.
The place, where women used to wash their clothes, is now the beautiful “Kafeneion of Kato Vrisi” ( the coffee house of Kato Vrisi) created by the local cultural association.
The local cultural association has put barbecues in that area and so the visitor can prepare his/her own meal.
Many different cultural festivities are held there every year.
The ancient city of Diatonion was possibly in the today’s Astritsi area.
In Astritsi, in 1981, a treasure was found with 34 copper coins and the word “ARIAION” on it. In the immunity pact of Militos, Ariaioi belonged to the alliance of Gortinioi with three groups of Cretan towns. So they had something in common. One of the cities in that group was possibly in the Kefala area, in the Astritsi village of Heraclion.
Some byzantine buildings (2, 5 kilometers long), an aqueduct and some ruined Venetian churches are in Rematia of Kipoi.
In Eminani, a very interesting, limestone statue of Daedalus from the archaic era was found.
The first account of the today’s settlement is in the Venetian census of 1583 and then others follow.
There are many views on how the village was named. The most probable is that of the French historian P. Faure in which he supports that it was named after the ancient town “Tritonia”, where the Kefala village is now. The expression “to the Tritonia” («εις τας Τριτωνίας») with corruption became Astritonia-Astritos-Astritsi.
The patron saint of Astritsi is Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St John) and the church is in the centre of the village. It has three aisles and is dedicated to Agios Georgios (St George), Agia Varvara and Agios Charalampos.
The first church of the village is Agios Ioannis Prodromos in Kato Vrisi and is carved in a rock.
The temple of Agios Ioannis Theologos ( St John) is in Nira and it is said that many miracles are performed there. According to the locals, many villagers were cured of various illnesses by drinking holly water. The church of Metamorfosis of Sotiras is in the same place.
The temple of Panagia Aksion Esti is in “Perivolakia”. It was found buried and ruined some years ago. The Byzantine church has been renovated.
The temple of Panagia Evaggelistria and Gorgoepikoos is in Papagianni, 200 meters from the village.
Every summer Kato Vrisi hosts the cultural camping. The magnificent riverbank fills in young laughter, culture, art and cultural scent.
The local cultural association gives a part of its equipment in order to serve the needs of the accommodation of the students. The villagers support the events as they host the students’ tents in their properties and offer them whatever they can.
All the summer festivities of the local cultural association (dancing parties, plays, concerts, films) and the festivities organized by the municipality are taken place in Kato Vrisi.
The campers come in the beginning of the summer, the cultural camping is held in the end of July and, almost every week until September, a different festivity may take place.