Asi Gonia of Chania

Asi Gonia is a mountainous village and part of the Chania regional unit, in Crete, Greece. Administratively, it belongs to the municipality of Apokoronas. Asi Gonia is located at an altitude of 418 meters above sea level and it is about 35 km away from Rethymnon and 55 km away from Chania. The permanent population of the village amounts approximately to 600 people, who are mainly occupied in animal husbandry.

Back in the history, Asi Gonia constituted an assemblage center for rebels, because of the fact that the natural position of the village made it work as a fortress. In addition to that, the position of the village on the eastern side of the Agathes Mountain was completely inaccessible. The rebellious inhabitants of the village of Asi Gonia participated in all the battles in Crete and this is where the name Asi was inspired from. The appellation of the village originally comes from Arabic and Turkish (in Turkish the word «Asi» exists), meaning “renegade,” “indomitable” and consequently “brave” and “intrepid”. Gonia in Greek means “corner”, therefore Asi Gonia, the full name of the village, means the corner or the lair in which rebels were gathered.

The commonly known region of “Chainospilios” (meaning the cave of robbers) in which the pursued and “undesirable” members of the Revolutionary Assembly of 1866 found refuge, is also located at a very close distance from Asi Gonia.

In the village of Asi Gonia, on April 23rd, the inhabitants celebrate the Saint Agios Georgios Galatas. At the square of the village, we find the central church which is devoted to the Saint. During the celebration day in honor of Agios Georgios, all farmers bring to the church their farm animals in order to be blessed by the local priest. Later, farmers milk their animals and distribute the milk to those present.

It is estimated that the ovine and caprine animals bred in the region of Asi Gonia amount approximately to 30,000. As a result of that, it is almost unthinkable for a shepherd to avoid bringing its animals at the church to be blessed this day. Even the sheep farmers, whose corrals are situated really far away from the village, milk their livestock and, then, bring the milk to Agios Georgios Galatas.

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