Atsipopoulo is a village in the prefecture of Rethymno located approximately 7 km west of the city of Rethymno, after you pass the Panorama and the Violi Haraki.

About the origins of the village’s name, there is one version saying that it comes from Latin Aci populo (rough people) because of the harshness of its residents back in the times, while another version explains that “atsipopoulo” means a small fortified village. The prevailing, however, is the one that says that Atsipopoulo comes from the word Atsipas that has its roots in the Arabic word chatzip, meaning porter or watchman. The Saracens of the period of the Arab rule used Ethiopian slaves as the guards of the palace, who were called Hatsipades or Atsipades, just like the Byzantines used to do later. Part of the troops of Nikiforos Fokas, who arrived after the liberation of the island from the Arabs, were Atsipades, Bulgarian and Armenian soldiers who had settled in Crete, and villages were named after them, such as Atsipopoulo, Atsipades, Armeni, Vulgaro, Varvaroi and more.

The location of the village was of strategic importance and, therefore, it had participated in many revolutions, but in 1866 was destroyed by the Turks, while in the 20th century it participated in the resistance against the Germans.

The Atsipopoulo, a birth place of Georgios Hortatsis, the poet who wrote “Sacrifice of Abraham” and “Erofili”, was one of the richest villages of Rethymno thanks to the making of small clay pottery utensils, the carobs cultivation (for fodder and sugar production) and the acorn production until the 1960s. A big part of the area is covered with a unique Cretan oak forest.

Moreover, the church of Agia Zoni (Holy Cincture), the protector of the oak tree, was built to rescue the oak forest from the illness that struck the trees in 1885. After the procession inside the forest, the illness had stopped. Other churches of the village are the Assumption of Virgin – Mesochoriani, Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos, a structure of the Byzantine family of Hortatzis in 12th century and Agios Antonios inside a cave at the west side of a gorge at site Zouridi. The main church of the village is two-nave dedicated to Agios Eleftherios and Agios Charalambos, while there are many other churches.

From the 1990s onwards, Atsipopoulo has been developed as a suburb of the city of Rethymno, maintaining the Venetian character mixed with the Cretan architecture. Today, Atsipopoulo attracts tourists during summer season, as it has all the necessary facilities such as small hotels, restaurants with local food, cafes and shops. Since 2014 the race Nikiforeios Road has been conducted in honor of Nikiforos Fokas and passes through the village.

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