In the time before recorded history, pilgrims from Syria, Palestine, and Egypt journeyed to a harbor town called Inatos, to pray to the goddess Eileithyia. The cave of this Minoan goddess lay high up on a hill, carved into a mountain shaped like the prone figure of Zeus, a place the locals point to these days when first-time visitors stand agape at the natural beauty of this remote and unique place on Crete. Another mountain, as myth would have it, resembles the figure of the goddess Hera as well. Tsoutsouras, besides having an interesting name, is a sacred place of rest and rejuvenation for Cretans.
Almost all trace of the harbor at Inatos is now long disappeared, but ten million shards of broken pottery make up the pebbly seaside of the little known southern Crete vacation town. Some say that ancient Inatos was an international center of culture, commerce, and knowledge in the time before the Mycenaeans took over Crete. As for the cave of Eileithyia, one of the most important worship caves of antiquity, it is said the daughter of Zeus and Hera still hovers there, ready to bless and protect pregnant women and babies. Legend has it, as does modern villager testament, that the healing powers of the goddess flow underground, to the river that empties into the Libyan Sea and far away in the Gulf of Mesara. The myths also tell of Tsoutsouros sitting atop a portal of space and time. Why, even the road to Tsoutsouras Village is epic, as the Instagram below shows.
Tsoutsouras, some say, was a mystical, cultural center of an advanced civilization long before the ancient Minoans prayed there. A famous archaeologist friend of mine will grimace, at my allusion to Atlantis legend in writing of this tiny Cretan resort town. But from such stories, every great archaeological find ever discovered came into being. Troy, let’s remember, was a fantasy of an ancient poet before Heinrich Schliemann dug it up. So, the legends surrounding this quiet and picturesque Cretan village would seem worthy to read or hear.
Like then one of the Tsoutsouras boy, who when he became a man, related the story of advanced robots being removed from the cave by the military. From stories of buried Minoan kings to Tsoutsouras being the location of a fountain of youth, this part of Crete is incredible.
Whether it’s a 10,000-year-old Atlantis myth, an undiscovered and unique travel experience, or a secluded beach to share like Adam and Eve shared Eden, the south of Crete holds experiences to value for a lifetime, or beyond if you believe in legends. At the exit to the wonderful Gorge of Mindris, the real Crete waits to welcome the adventurous at heart, those who can embrace eternity, like the ancients did.
And what if the eternal sarcophagus of King Minos, the mythical king of the Minoans, really does lie buried beneath a hill near Krassas beach? Can you imagine clandestine American agents removing the ultimate war machine from deep underneath Crete? I can attest to the magnetic nature of this place, if not to the actual interplanetary connection between ancient Inatos and the stars. Staying at Tsoutsouras one gains an understanding of how Erich von Däniken would put such a place in a book. Or, lying awake on the village”s quaint pebble and sand beach on a starry night, does conjure imaginings of “Aha! Atlantis,” even if modern science argues.
Come to Tsoutsouras in late summer, and get lost in the fantastic white lilies only found in the ancient frescoes at Knossos and at Amnissos. Here at Tsoutsouras, and all across engrossing Crete, you’ll eventually fall victim to “kouzoulada”, a term that describes a combination of craziness, passion, and excess unique to this incredible island.
Where to Stay
In and around Tsoutsouras there are many classic Greek small hotel stays, tavernas that have rooms to let, and so forth. But, don’t expect to find that all-inclusive resort with 12 swimming pools here. If you prefer are traditional Greek hotel stay, Hotel Triton right on the beach in Tsoutsouras is one of the best on the island. Thankfully, Crete’s south coast is still unspoiled in this regard. The most recommended (9.6 on Booking.com – 10 by the locals) place we found is Elouthia Residence with Sea View, a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath Airbnb listing with a view to heaven. This traditional stone 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath home is let by Superhost Maria Bibaki (Μαρία Μπιμπακη)
Where to Eat
The two highest Tripadvisor rated eateries in Tsoutsourass (of Greece for that matter) are Sarakina (which also has nice apartments), and Taverna Zorbas, which is situated right on the beach. I’ve not dined at Sarakina, but I have eaten with Kostas Andreadakis, the owner of Zorbas. Besides having more friends than Brad Pitt, Kostas is a local legend for perfect Cretan specialties.
Image credit: Feature image courtesy Πεζοπορικός Όμιλος