One of the most beautiful villages of the Viannos municipality, built in a very green area, is the Kato Simi village. Simi has the largest forest in the Heraclion prefecture. It is a part of the Selekanos forest.
The Mplavopotamos River flows from the one side of the village, passes from Faflago and ends to the Libyan Sea. It is a mountain village and, apart from the green Simi Valley, the forest and the river, there are also many and important caverns in the area as that of Zimpraga Spiliara, Kisospilios, Leri, Mpoumpoulis, Riza and Chalavra. The impressive gorge of Kapnistis is also near the settlement where, according to tradition, Sarantapichos, a huge man, lived.
There are some interesting archaeological sites in Kato Simi. A New-Palace sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite is in Kria Vrisi.
A walk in the village is worthy and, when you got tired, you can have a coffee at the square of the village with the large plane.
Kato Simi is 75 kilometers from Heraclion and 31 kilometers from Ierapetra. The Loutraki settlement is under the Kato Simi district. 305 people live in the whole district and 66 only in Loutraki. Their main occupations are agriculture, livestock and bee keeping.
HERMES AND APHRODITE SANCTUARY
One of the most important archaeological sites in the Viannos municipality, the New-Palace sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite, is in Kria Vrisi, 5 kilometers from the Kato Simi settlement, on the southern sides of the Dikti Mountain, 1130 meters above the sea level.
The place worked for many centuries continuously and is identified with the Holly Sanctuary between the ancient Tsoutsouras and Ierapitna. The sanctuary began to work in the Middle Minoan Era and continued till the Roman Years.
The excavation of the Hermes and Aphrodite Sanctuary began in 1972 and stopped in 2003, without having been completed. The place is about 17000 square meters and only 3000 square meters have been excavated.
Many of the findings of the excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Heraclion and most of them are kept in the store houses of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraclion.
The view from that place is panoramic. A spring with plenty of water is also in the archaeological site and, according to archaeologists, that is why the sanctuary was found there.
The site can be visited after your contact with the guard.
Kato Simi is stated in the 1583 census of Kastrofilakas as “Simi Catto” with 146 residents. During the Turkish Occupation, only Turks lived in the village. Then, two women fell from Goupo in order not to be raped by the Turks.
In September of 1943, German soldiers came to the settlement in order to punish the residents for the death of two Germans in the Simi guard house. But the partisans waited for them in the entrance of the valley, killed 84 Germans and executed 12. In reprisal the Nazis destroyed all the villages of the eastern Viannos and the western Ierapetra and killed all the men of the settlements. The memorial of the executed of the Kato Simi battle is a few meters before the entrance of the village in order the struggle of the residents for freedom not to be forgotten.
The churches of Afentis Christos, Agios Ioannis Prodromos and Agios Georgios are in Kato Simi. The church of Panagia Galatoktismeni and Nistikoktismeni is an important church as there is an interesting traditional story for it (see Traditional Stories).
During the Venetian Occupation, there was a lord in the Kato Simi village (the ruins of his house are on the foot of the village). He offered hospitality to the woman of the lord of Heraclion but he raped her.
After a while, in a council, having heard of the incident, the lord of Heraclion wanted to discuss in the council about the punishment of someone that had raped the woman of someone else. The lord from Kato Simi proposed the death sentence as he didn’t know that the lord of Heraclion meant him.
After that, myths and facts are confused. Some say that he was built alive in Lotzia, others that he was hung on a tree, smeared with honey and eaten by wasps and others that he was hanged.
In order to be expiated, the woman of the lord of the Kato Simi settlement have workmen to build the Panagia church, without giving them any food and, instead of water, she gave them milk of her sheep.