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Apodoulou

The Apodoulou in the prefecture of Rethymno is a small village on the foothills of Psiloritis, approximately 53 km south of the city of Rethymno. The village, declared as a traditional settlement, lies at an altitude of 400 meters with an excellent view at the Amari valley and the Libyan Sea.

The name of the village comes from the word apodoulos, meaning freedman, an emancipated slave. In the Middle Ages, the pirates dashed into the coastal areas of Crete taking the inhabitants as slaves. Many of them recovered their freedom by paying ransom, which leads to the conclusion that the original settlement was developed by such settlers, who later withdrew to more mountainous parts of the island.

The Apodoulou appears in the Venetian records, while in the Egyptian census of 1834 14 Christian and 6 Turkish families were recorded to reside in the village.

The residents took part in all the wars and revolutions, including the National Resistance, while the war memorial in the village mentions 17 fallen, in totals, from 1916 until 1948.

One of the major attractions of Apodoulou village and the wider area is the Minoan Settlement of Apodoulos, located on the road that connected the palace of Phaistos with the big Palaiopalatial complex of Monastiraki, and, probably, functioned as a stopover. The village also offers some religious attractions, such as the church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist), the church of Agios Nikolaos, the church of the Virgin Mary, the church of Agios Georgios the Methystis, the church of the All Saints and the church of the Birth of the Virgin.

Agios Georgios Xififoros, at site Noufia near the village, used to be an old monastery of the 12th century, a religious center during the Turkish occupation and a secret school. The Turks would burst their anger on the frescoes of the church, piercing with their bayonets the eyes of the Saint. The church is called Xififoros because the image of Saint carries a sword (xifos=sword) instead of a spear. Nowadays, only the church and some ruins of the monks’ cells remain.

The Apodoulou is also known for the mansion of Kallitsa Psaroudaki, who, during the Revolution of 1812, was kidnapped by the Turks and sold in Egypt. When she got married, in 1828, to Robert Haines, an offspring of a wealthy family and son of the admiral of the English fleet, she returned to her village and built the mansion, also called the Frankish Konaki, which still stands there. The impressive structure is built with slabs from Malta and was nearly burned when 300 Turks barricaded themselves in it, during the revolution of 1866. It also served as a gendarmerie station and still belongs to the Psaroudakis family.

The 250 residents of Apodoulou are engaged in agriculture and, especially, in the oil production, since the best psaroelies or raisin-olives are produced here. The area also produces carobs, honey and livestock products.

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