Kato Valsamonero

The Kato Valsamonero is a village in the prefecture of Rethymno that lies 14 km west of the city of Rethymno, on the foothills of the hill Nipi, on the old road towards Chania.

Built at an altitude of 250 meters, the Kato Valsamonero is a Byzantine period settlement and it owes its name to the famous balm herb that grows in the area and to the abundant water (valsamo=balm and nero=water). Another version refers to a source, the water of which was considered digestive and healthy like a balm.

The village was first mentioned in 1577, while during the Venetian period it was an important military area of Northwestern fortress system. In 1822 the Kato Valsamonero and the Ano Valsamonero have linked their names to one of the greatest battles for the independence of Crete, since there was a gathering of 3,000 Cretans to make a terrible attack against the Turks, according to plan of French Valestra.

After 1669 the Kato Valsamonero had been inhabited only by Turks, after all Christians were forced out, except for one who was allowed to stay because he had a mill near the village. After 1900, the Turks, fearing persecution, sold their properties and fled to larger centers and particularly to Rethymno. From 1900-1920 families from 25 different villages of Crete came and settled in the area, so no resident is indigenous.

The parish church is the Holy Trinity located in the village center, while in the village there also are the church of the Virgin Hodegetria, an old church where gate remnants and a wall have survived, the church of Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos (St. John Chrysostom), a small church with rare Renaissance frescos, the church of Agia Paraskevi and other.

Kato Valsamonero, a charming village with about 190 inhabitants, has been awarded twice by the Prefecture as one of the cleanest settlements.

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