Gergeri is a large village in the southern foot of Psiloreitis and is built between impressive and steep cliffs.
The wonderful forest of Rouvas is above the village.
Administratively the settlement falls under the Gortyna municipality and the local community includes the villages of Apomarma, Kardamiana, Mastrachiana, Raptis, Tzaniana and Psalida (desolated now). 1440 people live in the community and 1241 people only in Gergeri. Their main occupations are livestock and agriculture. The women of Gergeri have created a cooperative that produces and standardizes various local products.
The large village is about 40 kilometers from Heraclion and 520 meters above the sea level. The southern route from the settlement, i.e. the road from Zaros or Kamares, leads to Psiloreitis.
Parts of a Roman aqueduct, which supplied the ancient city of Gortyna with water, are still preserved near the village in the large Fountana spring. The area is known for its abundant water even today.
From the 15th century and on, many watermills were built in the area. Many fountains are in the area and there is also a natural lake next to a water reservoir. The watermills and the fountains are restored and are parts of the “water roads”.
The Open Museum of Elia and the Natural History Museum are also in the village.
The first written reference of the settlement is in the records of Kastrofilakas as “Giergeri”, in 1583.
In the settlement, 41 Christian and 4 Turkish families lived in 1834 and 619 Christians and 6 Turks in 1881. In Mai Vrisi, Turks celebrated the First Day of May and their feasts lasted 3 days. Those days the connection with the villages of Apano Riza was stopped. Many students’ camps were also in the village after war.
The rest of the settlements are stated in some censuses. Apomarma are stated in a contract as “Pomarma” in 1302. In the Kastrofilakas’s census it is mentioned as “Appomarma” with 73 residents in 1583. In the same census the Raftis village can be also found.
The place name of the village is pre-Hellenic.
The patron saint of Gergeri is Agios Georgios that is celebrated on the 3rd of November. In the village there also the churches of Agios Stilianos, Ipapanti, Metamorfosi of Sotiras and Profitis Ilias, which is in the center of the settlement and has a panoramic view of Mesara. The church of Panagia Kera or Chanoutia is very close to the village and it is decorated with frescos of the 15th century. Those frescos are fumed as 25 residents of the village were executed by the Germans there.
The picturesque country church of Agios Ioannis is in the forest of Rouvas. Agios Ioannis is the patron saint of shepherds and is celebrated on the 23rd of September.
The country churches of Agia Foteini, Agios Konstaninos and Agia Eleni is in the Raptis settlement.
The country church of Timios Stavros is in the Psalida village.
A number of cultural festivities are held in Gergeri as the residents try to preserve the manners and customs of the area.
On the 3rd of November a feast is taken place in the honor of Agios Georgios Methistis. The residents open their barrels with the new wine for the first time and celebrate the patron saint.
One of the most important shepherd feasts of Crete is held on the 23rd of September, i.e. the celebration of Agios Ioannis of Rouvas, when many shepherds of Psiloritis come to the village, camp under the oaks and take part in the festivities. Those days every oak has its own dance floor and its own serenade.
A feast is also held on the 2nd of February, i.e. the day of Ipapanti.
Apokrigiomata (After-Carnival) in Rouvas
The most important feast is held on Monday after the Carnival in the Rouvas village and it is called “Apokrigiomata”.
The feast is held every year and includes a number of festivities that revives the customs of the area. It is taken place in the central road of the village and includes abundant wine, food and a non-stop Cretan feast.
The funeral, the plough- seed-time, the wedding, the “drawings”, and the bear dance are presented among others.
The most important characteristic of the festival is the participation of groups from all over Greece or from abroad with similar traditions, in order to present their customs and so to be a kind of cultural exchange and communication.