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The Valley of Amari is steeped in myth and legend. It retains what much of the world has lost: wide expanses of beautiful wilderness, deeply rooted traditions, and extraordinarily warm people. This Mythical place called Amari is ideal to host a cultural centre where different talents and skills can come together once again to be shared and enjoyed by all.

Nestled at the foothills of the majestic Psiloriti (Idi) mountain, the highest in Crete, the village of Amari was the capital of the area of the same name and is in the centre of twenty six other villages, connected by roads and footpaths. Amari is a village untouched by the rush and busyness of modern life. The glory and renowned of Amari’s past prominence is attested to in the beautiful villas and distinctive architecture gracing the village. Inhabitants have included painters, poets, artists, lawyers, doctors, teachers, judges and civil servants - all forming a vibrant cultural community. Today, the people of Amari live far and near - in Crete and across the globe - yet all remain intimately connected to this place and its life. Many wish to see this life revitalized and invigorated by sharing Amari with the outside world.

Amari's History

Amari, the village, was founded in the 13th century during Venetian times. For many years it was the capital and administrative centre of the Region of Amari drawing many prominent and educated people to make their home in this beautiful village. Today, one can still find echoes of Amari's rich and distinguished past in the neoclassic buildings as well as the noble grace of its inhabitants. The painter Fotakis was born there and spent his summer holidays in Amari. He lived in Paris, France and people said that fashion first arrived in Amari direct from Paris and then spread to the rest of Crete! Also artists like Pantelis Prevelakis, Giorgos Heimonas, Manolis and Loula Anagnostaki and Yorgi Kalomenopoulos enjoyed their summers in Amari.

During the years of the Ottoman occupation, Amari was a Christian village with only one Muslim family. Immigration led many inhabitants to Africa, firstly to Egypt and later to South Africa, and to U.S.A. They distinguished themselves financially and were beneficial to the village, donating money for many public buildings like the school, the court, the police and the square (platia) etc.

Today however, as is the case with most inland villages, its population is constantly decreasing as younger people move to towns seeking jobs.


Estia Amariou

Estia Amariou is the Cultural Centre that is home to our Association. As our heart and hearth, Estia Amariou, will offer a sanctuary where visitors are welcomed as honored guests and as guests, are free to offer their gifts to the village and the valley communities that surround it. These gifts might include storytelling skills, gardening/farming knowledge, ecological initiatives or simply the love of community building. Here, at Estia Amariou, guests will spend time deep in conversation, sample the delights of local food and wine and enjoy making music together. Estia Amariou will also be a venue for workshops, exhibitions and other activities organized by the local community or us.

The word "Estia" is derived from Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth. Hestia in Greek means fireplace (hearth) AND focus, core, centre, source, seat, breeding-ground, hotbed, spot. The Goddess Hestia is the centre of the home, the welcoming warming fire at the heart of home. Her duty is to always keep the fire burning, a source of light and warmth. She was one of the twelve Olympians but she gave her seat to Dionysos, God of Wine and Vegetation, and preferred a quieter life by the hearth. This forged forever a link between Dionysos and Hestia - eating/drinking by the fireplace. Abundant simplicity really and the most ancient way of beginning to transform a group of strangers into a community.

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Why visit Amari?


Far from the bustle of city life, there is an inland village nestled in the mountains where the setting sun bathes Crete's highest peak in glorious pink. Amari offers a peace and serenity untouched by tourism - a haven for those seeking to experience the rhythms of village life. It is a place to relax and renew.  Life slows down, worries dissipate and the silence is broken only by the sounds of insects, birds and the rustling wind in the olive groves.  

In spring and summer, the abundant flora and fauna fill the senses as well as the stomach.  Food is at the centre of life in Crete and Amari offers the finest in Cretan cuisine using locally produced cheeses, olives, honey, grapes and wine.

Amari moves to its own rhythm - nature's rhythm.  

Amari as a Reatreat


With uninterrupted views of the mountains and virtually no traffic, Amari offers the mind and soul a place for contemplation and reflection. In the quiet stillness of this valley, there is an opportunity to listen and to hear - for questions to seek answers, for goals to become more clearly defined and for breathing to become slower and deeper. A walk in fields may offer inspiration or allow creative energies to be renewed. Or, simply come and see what unfolds in this ancient home of the gods. There are olive groves and secluded spots for communing in silence, entirely on your own.

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