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Crete: Hania Prefecture Overview Page Twenty-seven

Crete's South Coast continued

A side road just past there takes you to the village of Koustoyerako which was the location of the aborted execution of women and children by a German platoon in 1943 , prevented by ten of the village guerillas for whom the Germans had been searching and who fired from a height above (at a distance of 400meters/1312 feet) killing ten Germans simultaneously with no bullet wasted, which sent the execution squad packing. The Germans returned the next day to find the village deserted, but blew up all the houses anyway. Kostas Paterakis, the guerilla who fired the first shot (which killed the machine-gunner) was still living there ten years ago and may still be alive. One of his relatives, Manolis, now deceased, was among the capturers of the German General Kreipe and the village itself has a history of resistance-to Venetians and Turks before the Germans. The failed execution is beautifully described in Yiorgos Psychoundakis' The Cretan Runner, in accounts by the Irish writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, (one of the foreigners who helped to capture General Kreipe) and in the book entitled Crete by A. Beevor.

Koutsoyerako was also a village in ancient times, and the rebuilt modern is a beautiful one, situated beneath the mountains and overlooking the Libyan Sea. There's a war memorial there, as one would expect, and the cliffs from which the guerillas fired the shots that saved their women and children easily pointed out by the natives. The frescoed Byzantine chapel of Aghios Yiorghos, built possibly as early as the 10th century, is at the top of the village. It was restored during the 16th century, and inscriptions record many generations of the Kandanoleon family (see the story about the 'wedding massacre'near Meskla). There's a kalderimi (cobbled road) leading from the platia (square) to the summer pastures used by the village on Mount Akhlada ('akhladi' is a 'pear'), a walk taking about two hours.


the beach at sougia For centuries this was the fishing village and port for the village of Koustoyerako (and in ancient times for the ancient city of Elyros), Its old name (Syia) meant 'pig town' and the region was covered in oak forests. But good roads have brought the inevitable tourists, especially as the beach here (left) is one of the best on Crete's south coast and the surrounding countryside offers good hiking opportunities. The pebble beach is on a nice bay with very clear water and some tamarisk trees which people camp under. Around the east end of the bay people dispense with bathing suits and the spot has been dubbed "The Bay of Pigs'. There are many rooms, plenty of them in the lowest price category, the best at the entrance to the gorge. The village itself has a rather thrown-together look, with half-built structures (something not unusual in Greece).

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