Kounavoi, the traditional village of Archanes-Asterousia Municipality, is where the Minoan city of Eltinia was.

The settlement dominates in a small plain in the Kaki Rachi hillock.

About 860 residents live in the village and their main occupation is olive crop and vine-growing.

Kounavoi is built 340 meters above the sea, 15 kilometers from Heraclion and is a station for the history lovers because of the old buildings preserved in different places, and for those who love alternative tourism, because of the Kounavi gorge in the area.

The Venetian-Turkish bridge called “ tou Soularxi I Kamara”(“the arch of Sularxis”), the temple of Agios Konstantinos and the Veneteian linoi (wine presses) in Agios Nikolaos, Korakia and Skepasta Patitiria are labeled as historical preservable monuments of the area.


The archaeological findings show that the history of the area is very long.

The village and the area generally is very interesting archaeologically. A geometrical cemetery with a unique- in the northern Crete- geometrical vault was found near Kounavoi.

Administratively the village includes the settlement of Zagouriani which was larger than Kounavoi during the Venetian Occupation. In 1583 it is mentioned as “Gaidurianus” with 284 residents.

Some capitals of Dorian order and a tablet with an inscription, that proves the existence of the ancient city Eltinaia or Eltina, were found in the Zagouriani settlement and, more specifically, in the Ellinika place.

In Skenteri small earthen tablets with embossed representation of a man on a horse fighting with a dragon from the Hellenic era were found.

In later years, the settlement is accounted for the first time as “Sconavi” in a document of 1212. It is also mentioned in a contract of 1271 with a similar name, as “Conave”. In many records of 1368- 1394, it is referred as “Conave” and “Cunavus” and as a fief of many people. In the Egyptian census of 1834 it is accounted as “Kunavi” with 10 Christian and 10 Turkish families.

In 1881, Kunavi belongs to the Agies Paraskies Municipality with 277 Christians and 226 Turks. In 1900, it is in the same municipality with 492 residents, while, in 1928, it is the seat of the Kunavi community with 780 residents.

After the Minor Asia destruction, in 1922, many refugees from Minor Asia moved in the village.


Three temples are in the village, the Byzantine church of Metamorfosi of Sotiras with 3 aisles, Agios Nikolaos and Agios Dimitrios, Agios Georgios (or Apochalikias) and Koimisi of Theotokos.

The church of Agios Panteleimon, celebrated on the 27th of July, is in a place full of vineyards, about 300 meters from the settlement.


The tradition says that the churches of Metamorfosi of Sotira (with the 3 aisles), Agios Nikolaos and Agios Dimitrios were built by three unmarried sisters. Each one built a dome. The remaining of the building materials (pebbles) was used for the building of the temple of Agios Georgios and that’s why it was named Apochalikias (i.e. with pebbles).