Our journey will start from Therisso. The Gorge of Therisso is also named “Eleftherios Venizelos”, as a tribute to the renowned Cretan politician. The main gorge is six kilometers long. The vertical cliffs are impressive and the lush vegetation is comparable to the kind found at the other gorges of the Chania prefecture. The place deserves a visit, even by the use of a vehicle, combined with a visit at the historical beautiful village of Therissos, which is built at the foot of the White Mountains at an altitude of 580 meters. A trip there, is something that will remain unforgettable to every visitor. The place played a crucial role in the modern history of Crete, since the residents have not stopped fighting the Turks during their entire 300 years occupation of the island, who repeatedly tried to break the resistance of this strong position. In 1866, Theriso was burned down by Mustapha Pasha Naili and many people- including the mother of the later prime minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, moved to the island of Kythera and the Peloponnese. The historic village acquired greater importance during the events of 1905, when Venizelos and his followers declared from there the revolution against the autocratic regime of Prince George-who was imposed by the Great Powers- paving the events that led to the subsequent union of Crete with Greece. The Halides brothers, heroes of the 1821 revolution, also come from Theriso.
Afterwards we will go to Zourva and Meskla. The way for Zourva is simply amazing, as we drive up, crossing the White Mountains. The visitor will be enchanted by the spectacular view.
Meskla is the site of an ancient city, and various artifacts and remains of cyclopean walls have been found here. The ruins of the houses and the remains of a city wall can be seen around the village of Meskla. It is unsure which city was situated here and what was its actual name. Meskla has traditional stone houses and is situated between green hills in the heart of the fertile Keritis Valley. Through this valley, runs a river and at the back of the village, the visitor can admire the White Mountains. Meskla is actually situated in a ravine, at the feet of the White Mountains. The village was first destroyed during the Venetian period, when the leader of a local revolt, Kantanoleon, used it as his headquarters, and a second time, during the Turkish period. Nevertheless, two of the Byzantine churches with 14th century frescoes at the village, have miraculously survived both destructions! One of these churches, is dedicated to the Christ Saviour, or “Sotiras Christos Church” with paintings by the hand of Theodoros Daniel and his nephew Michaeli Veneris, dating from 1303 A.D. The church was founded by the monk Leontios Khossakis. A bit further on the road, if the visitor walks through the village and over the bridge situated at its north side, one can find the 14th century Virgin Mary Church. This church contains parts of even earlier buildings, including a temple of Aphrodite that was once built on this exact place and the mosaic on the floor of the present church floor was once the mosaic floor of a fifth century basilica! Behind this church, a very large and imposing modern, Orthodox church has been built since.
Towards the end of our excursion, we will go to the lake of Agia. It is a small lake of 450 acres, which is close to the valley of Fasas. This valley is considered as the most humid of Crete. Agia Lake receives water from underground springs and the river Xekolomenos. The lake was a swamp before the Power Public Corp. radically reformed it, to create an artificial lake, for producing hydroelectric power. Today, the power station is abandoned, but visitors still can see the old mechanisms. This small lake, hosts the largest variety of aquatic plants in Crete, but also hosts very important species of fauna, such as rare species of ferns and frogs. Moreover, the lake is a shelter for many migratory and non-migratory birds. The ecological significance of Agia, is reflected in the fact that it is protected. In recent years, the irrigation works in the region have reduced the size of the lake, which has become a swamp once more in several places. Moreover, the wetland has faced a tremendous alteration, after the introduction of the American bullfrog by a mindless businessman, a creature which has displaced the endangered Cretan water frog since.