Saitoures

Saitoures is a village in the prefecture of Rethymno located approximately 20 km southeast of the city of Rethymno, after the village of Kalonichtis, near Roustika.

The name of the village comes from its shape that resembles a shuttle. Many Byzantine churches prove the existence of the village during the Byzantine period, while in Venetian documents the village is mentioned under the same name. Moreover, Vasilikata mentions in 1630 that in the middle of the village there was an old orthodox church, the Virgin, with an iron cross covered with silver and tied with an iron chain, which had the ability to cure the mentally ill and the possessed. This is the parish church of the village, built in the 13th-14th century and dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin. Other churches of the area are the Agios Nikolaos, the chapel of 1285, Agios Antonios, Agia Paraskevi and Agios Georgios, an old Byzantine church.

In almost all the livestock-breeding villages there is a church dedicated to the grace of Agios Georgios, who is considered the patron Saint of livestock. Thus, in Saitoures, the breeders dedicate an animal to the Saint, so that everything would be well with the herd and offer the milk of their goats in honor of the Saint on the eve of Agios Georgios’ feast. The cheese products, the mizithra (a fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep and/or goat) and the graviera (made from sheep’s milk and ripened for at least 5 months) are taken to the church and get blessed by the priest, who read the appropriate prayer for the health of livestock farmers and their herds.

In addition to farming, oil and carobs are the main occupation of the approximately 100 villagers.

The Saitoures, at an altitude of 340 meters, is a village surrounded by nature and many attractions of the area are correlated with it, all of them wrapped into numerous legends. Between the Saitoures and the Ano Malaki village, there is a cave of Frangioli, a small cave with stalactites and stalagmites and the legend saying that during the Revolution, the Turks killed forty people from village, called “Michalis”, and threw them in this hole, which has been haunted ever since. In Ano Malaki, the Frangioli cave is called “Forty Michalises” or “the hole” with a slightly different version of the legend.

The same applies to the location of the Bride’s Rivers. The site is claimed by two villages, but with a different version of a legend each. At Saitoures it is said that once upon a time, while passing a bridge, a bride had died, killed by a heavy rain.

At location Karantale, southeast of the village, there is a cave with stalactites, the Koufoto Kefali, and the local tradition says that 100 years ago a cheesemaker, named Iosif Daskalakis, stored his cheese production in this cave. At night, however, the fairies would throw all his products outside the cave, so, the cheesemaker was scared and forced to leave.

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