Kissamos

Kastelli or Kissamos? Kissamos is a town with two names, Kissamos and Kastelli. When it is called Kastelli, the word "Kissamou" ("of Kissamos") is usually added, to differentiate this Kastelli, west of Chania, from Kastelli Pediados, south of Heraklion.

The town was called Kastelli because it lies on the site of an old Venetian castle, no longer visible today. The name Kissamos, on the other hand, is much more ancient; it is thought to be pre-Hellenic, but its derivation is uncertain.

Kissamos is a town and municipality in the north west of the island. It is a hospitable town, well organized with all the facilities required of a self sufficient town, such as banks, post office, internet cafes, health centre, supermarkets and stores, tavernas, cafes and bars. It also has a very pleasant seaside promenade lined with tavernas, cafes and bars open from the morning till late at night.

One and a half kilometers from the centre of town is the picturesque fishing port with two tavernas and a little further on the larger commercial port that links Kissamos by a ferry service to the Peloponnese. From this port there is also a daily pleasure cruise to the stunning island of Gramvousa and lagoon of Balos. Between the two ports is the surprising little 10th century church (reconstructed in 1947) St. John Damiali built into the rockface and opposite a tunnel leading to Damiali beach - a pebbly cove with crystal clear water that will enchant you.

Famed for its wine and olive oil, the town has a true Cretan character. There are good restaurants frequented by the locals and some bars. In the west part of Kissamos is the main road, Heroon Polytechniou Street, full of shops and supermarkets. But in the summer (and all year round when the weather's good), the heart of town beats on the coast road, near Tzanakaki Square or Kastelli Square, which is mostly pedestrianised, letting visitors and residents alike enjoy a stroll by the sea.

A long beach of sand and pebble stretches around the bay, which is generally very quiet. There is a public bus service to Chania and from here you can visit the west coast beaches, among them Falassarna which also boasts an archaeological site, the Gramvoussa isles (pirate isles), the beautiful George of Topolia and the lagoon at Balos.

Kissamos is surrounded by beautiful landscape and has about 3.000 inhabitants. It is not a crowded tourist resort - its development is based mostly in the wine and oil produce, and agricultural products.

Kissamos was always a well-fortified city- due to its wealth and location, it was often under attack. Parts of the wall that the Venetians built are still standing inside the city. The Venetian fortress, Castelo, was the special characteristic of the city and thus the city was named after it - Kastelli. Because in Crete there are many towns with the name Kastelli, it was named Kastelli Kissamou.

Kastelli is located 37km west of Chania, a 40 min ride, and 1 hour to Chania international airport (55km).