Vamos lies at Lefka Ori’s foothills (White Mountains) in western Crete. Just 25 km from Chania, this village sits at a semi-mountainous altitude of 300 meters above sea level, surrounded by fertile farmland and vibrant wilderness.
Vamos has seen the rise and fall of various civilizations, leaving behind a remarkable architectural heritage and a captivating history spanning over 1,300 years.
Most Significant Moments in Vamos’s History
During the Byzantine era, Vamos and its surrounding regions faced the menace of Arab pirates who frequently raided coastal settlements along the Mediterranean, causing widespread fear and disruption. However, in the late 13th century, the Venetians took control of Crete and introduced a census system to monitor the population and safeguard against pirate attacks.
The Venetian census played a vital role in the history of Vamos, as it allowed for the establishment of organized settlements and the development of a more secure and stable community. This period marked the beginning of Vamos’ transformation from a vulnerable target to a fortified village with a growing population.
In the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire conquered Crete, including the village of Vamos. Vamos and its inhabitants lived under Ottoman rule for several centuries, enduring various challenges and restrictions. However, the spirit of resistance never waned among the locals.
During the Cretan Revolt (1897–1898) against the Ottomans, Vamos played an active role, its residents joining the fight for freedom and national identity.
Peace and Prosperity
During the Cretan State established in 1898 after the Cretan Revolt (still under Ottoman suzerainty until the Balkan Wars of 1912-3), Vamos experienced a period of prosperity and growth. The village became an economic hub, with agriculture, trade, and craftsmanship driving its development. This flourishing period is evident in the stunning neoclassical mansions that still adorn the village today.
These neoclassical mansions, characterized by their elegant architectural style and intricate detailing, serve as a testament to the wealth and sophistication of Vamos during this time.
The Venetians left an indelible mark on Vamos’s architectural landscape, their influence stretching well into the 19th century. Exploring the village reveals a tapestry of well-preserved houses, charming neighborhoods, and enchanting gardens that showcase the fusion of Venetian and local architectural styles.
The neoclassical mansions built during this period are a testament to the village’s prosperity while highlighting the stark contrast between the affluent upper class and the humble dwellings of the less fortunate. The opulent “konakia” or luxury houses stand out with their grandeur, constructed using local materials such as stone, wood, and soil, preserving their authentic and traditional character.
Vamos’ old district stands as a captivating testament to its architectural heritage. Its standout monuments include the Parthenou Marias chapel, which dates back to the 13th century, and the Karydi monastery, which houses a 12-arched olive press. With its collapsed roof, this monumental structure speaks volumes of the scale of olive production that once took place here. Inside the press, four olive mills were used for large-scale oil production, highlighting the importance of olives in the local economy.
The Karydi Monastery is a captivating example of folk architecture within the Chania region. Abandoned for many years, the monastery underwent restoration in 1996 and reopened its doors to the public.
The historical significance of the Karydi Monastery extends beyond its architectural marvels. It served as a settlement and fiefdom controlled by a Venetian lord before the Ottomans occupied Crete in the 17th century.
Visiting Vamos Traditional Village
Vamos Traditional Village boasts charming traditional guest houses, cottages, and villas. Many of these houses were once the homes of previous inhabitants and have been lovingly restored to provide eco-sustainable holiday accommodations. Some even feature private or shared pools.
The accommodations are ideal for solo travelers, families, or small groups of friends who wish to experience the benefits of responsible, low-impact tourism in Crete. Visiting Vamos, you will discover the rich cultural heritage of the region and offer a range of activities:
- Cretan traditional cooking lessons: visitors can prepare delicious local dishes under the guidance and assistance of an experienced cookery consultant. Participants will learn detailed cooking instructions using fresh and local ingredients and receive full recipes. They will also receive helpful information about the herbs, olive oil, and other ingredients, along with explanations of their nutritional qualities and usage.
- Botanical guided walk along the Olive Path starting from Vamos village and journeying through the area’s picturesque landscapes.
- Visit local producers: No trip to Crete is complete without experiencing the essential elements of Cretan nutrition. Wine, herbs, olive oil, and cheese are the cornerstones of the island’s gastronomy. During the “Visit the Local Producers” activity, you will have the opportunity to meet the people who continue the centuries-old tradition of producing these culinary delights.
- PURE TASTES OF CRETE – In the heart of the mountains: This unique experience allows you to savor the region’s traditional dishes while enjoying the tranquility of the mountains.
- Seasonal activities: Harvests and gatherings provide powerful experiences deeply rooted in tradition. One gets to engage with nature, work with their hands, and connect with locals who generously share their wisdom and experiences. Every season in Crete has many unique offerings.