Charkia

The village Charkia in the prefecture of Rethymno, near Agia Triada, is located approximately 17 km southeast of the city of Rethymno and easily accessed either through Adele or through Arkadi monastery.

Following a route through olive groves, approaching Charkia, the landscape becomes wild and rocky. Situated at an altitude of 530 meters, the village is a mountain settlement with stone houses and narrow alleys. The villagers used to be engaged in animal husbandry, but production of Anthotyros (a traditional fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep or goats), the hallmark of the region, has stopped. As has the coal production and trade. At present, financial resources of the inhabitants rely on the production of oil and wine. West of the village, there is a site named the Windmill, which suggests that activity as well.

There are various versions of the origins of the village’s name. Probably it was named after the copper workshops and smitheries which in Cretan dialect are referred to as charkidia or maybe the name refers to a previous engagement of the inhabitants, the charcoal production. Another version connects the name of the village with the charakia meaning rocks in the Cretan dialect. The earliest record of Charkia was made in 1577. The following records over the centuries prove that the village has been preserving its name since the 16th century.

It is unknown when the area was first inhabited, but during the excavations of the 1990s, two kilometers east of Charkia towards the village of Kavousi, architectural remains of Minoan period were revealed, while the existence of a settlement at the time of Arab rule on Crete (824-961) is certain.

Among the architectural attractions, the most important are the old school and the church of Agia Anna (St. Anne) with large laurel in the yard and the iconostasis adorned with icons of Renaissance art technique of the 19th century. Also, there is the church of Agios Antonios (St. Anthony) on the northern side of the village, while on the Kefali hill there is a chapel of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas). On the south end of the village, a memorial to the fallen villagers has been erected. The Charkia had made a significant contribution to the liberation struggles against the Turks, since many residents of Chárkia took part in Cretan revolutions.

The settlement offers some tourist facilities, such as traditional rooms-to-let, cafeterias and taverns with local cuisine.

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