I had a lovely message from Katie in Cumbria, who’d enjoyed Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa. As Katie plans to visit Kritsa she asked for directions to Rodanthe’s family home. I started making notes, and then thought I’d share them here, along with some of the landmarks that inspired scenes in the story. However, if you’ve not read the book, perhaps this village tour will whet your appetite for my novel about Rodanthe, a girl from Kritsa who fought so bravely against Ottoman oppression.
Before you start the village tour, I suggest a visit to the Kritsotopoula sculpture by British sculptor, Nigel Ratcliffe. This commemorates the battle where Rodanthe fought disguised as a young man.
As you enter the one way system of Kritsa you round a bend and drive uphill. Look for a turning right, signposts for Lato Archaeological site.
Take this right turn.
Continue on this road, pass the football stadium, cross a small bridge (Kritsa Gorge is to your left at this point), and follow the road as it rises up and around a steep bend.
Continue along until you reach the memorial, you can’t miss it! This marks the area defended so fiercely by the Cretan rebels. They were desperate to prevent the Turks reaching the fertile Lakonia plain below.
Local people hold a memorial service in front of this sculpture every May. If you visit the monument, I’d love you to post a photo on my Facebook page.
Meanwhile…back to the village, and turn right to pick up the directions below.
Most people arrive by car or coach, so I’ll start in the main car park. Turn right just after the lovely Argyro Hotel.
If you look to the right of the car park, you’ll see the imposing church, Agios Georgios. In my story this rocky edifice is ‘Church Rock’.
Now look again, just to the left of the clock tower… there is a smaller church. This is the church of Afentis Christos (Transfiguration), where Rodanthe’s father was the pappas (priest). That’s where we’ll head for…
Leave the car park via an uphill slope with a handy cafe on the left. To the right is the wonderful Co-operative bakery of Kritsa women, their biscuits are certainly a tasty souvenir, if you can keep them that long!
Follow the road up and around the bend. You’ll pass the hall of the Kritsa Cultural Association, housed in a renovated building that was the first mechanical olive press in Kritsa.
On the corner is the Lato Cafe and opposite this is the main village square. Here you can see the bust of Rodanthe, the first memorial to Kritsa’s famous daughter.
Now it’s uphill all the way, so take your time. The large six-domed church of Panagia Odigitria is often open to visitors.
At the top of the hill is a junction, turn right into the main street named for our heroine, Kritsotopoula Street. This will eventually lead you to her house.
Look out on your left for a cafe on a triangle beneath a huge platanos tree. A very old and generous woman used to own this kafenion, and her main clientele were the old men of the village who made a single coffee last all morning. Although I relocated the kafenion further up the village, it was the inspiration for the kafenion run by Spanos . I often sat here with a beer and a huge plate of mezes (small portions of tasty food), and as I listened to heated debates and laughter I pulled my notebook out to capture the moment.
In my mind, this area was home to the main market place. Look up above the larger Platanos Taverna next door. Can you ‘see’ the harem women peeking out of window grilles? Left down this lane will eventually take you to Kavousi Fountains and the Church of Agios Georgios by Kavousi, but for this walk we’ll continue up the main street.
Here is another masterpiece from Nigel Ratcliffe, in the middle of Kritsotopoula Street. I reflect this scene in my story while Rodanthe was at school.
The next landmark from the story is Argadiko Taverna housed in a long low, grey building. Argadiko means Aga’s house and this is where the Turk ruler of the village lived. Can you ‘see’ the ornately robed guards outside? No! Oh well, Yannis and his team will serve you a cold drink or tasty meal.
As the shops end you need the left hand fork, yes you’ve guessed it…uphill.
On the sharp bend is a fountain. Try the fresh mountain water, we call it Kritsa champagne.
Now you need to walk down the alley, still called Kritsotopoula Street. If old Katarina is outside her house, she’ll be pleased if you spare a few euro to buy the nuts she has picked and cracked.Quite likely, they’ll be in small bits of plastic bag she has sewn herself, the inspiration for ‘my’ Great Grandma’s tiny cloth bags for nutmegs.
At the small kafenion called Stekis continue along the alley, still Kritsotopoula street.
Almost at the end of the alley, on the left is the refurbished home of Rodanthe. The cross etched in the lintel will confirm you’ve found the right one. Inside is a private museum, open on a few occasions per year. If this changes to public opening, I will of course share information.
Just to the left is a shady square, a nice place to sit if locals haven’t used it for motor bikes! This area is where I sat Rodanthe’s extended family to eat on Christmas Day.
Now look to the right, a few paces down this narrow alley takes you to the recently restored church of Afentis Christos.
This church is used for a services on 5th and 6th August and is likely to be locked at other times. However, just inside the gate is a notice board describing the ‘finds’ during recent renovations.
If you’d like to read more about Rodanthe’s house and the church click here.
Whatever way you wander back it is downhill with lots of cafes to choose from and shops to browse.
If you want to buy a copy of Kritsotopoula while you are in Kritsa then visit Nikos in the Nikitakis Gift shop opposite Aristidis Cafe. It is also available from Eklektos Bookshop, Elounda. If you’d like an eBook then visit Amazon or other on line retailers.
I hope this brief guide adds ‘something’ to your Kritsa visit. X