Chestnuts and Cretan Dancers

Chestnuts and Cretan Dancers

Many crops of seasonal produce can be found on the island of Crete. When the heat of the summer month’s change to milder autumn days, olives, grapes and chestnuts are ready to be harvested. The olive oil and wine presses are kicked into action. Local olive grove owners take their harvests to distilleries to turn their labours into fine olive oil; and just as many locals are in full production, making their own local alcoholic spirit – Raki.

Come and visit Crete and experience all and more that the island has to offer.

If you happen to be visiting Crete during late October or early November, be sure to attend the annual Chestnut Festival. Traditionally the festival is held in the village of Élos, GR – Έλος and has on occasion been held in the village of Prassé.

The drive from Chaniá, GR – Χανιά to Élos is around 60 kms and passes through various villages and the very scenic Gorge of Topolia, GR – Φαράγγι Τοπόλια. The narrow winding road hugs the side of the tall vertical rock walls of the gorge between the villages of Topolia, GR – Τοπόλια and Koutsomatados, GR – Κουτσοματαδος.  This scenic stretch of road also passes through the ‘Tunnel by the Topolia Gorge’ and ‘MAD Tunnel’ before reaching the Cave of Agía Sofía, GR – Αγία Σοφία – Wisdom of God nestled high in the side of the gorge.

Crete _ Cave Wisdom God - Elos

Be sure to stop and leave the car on the side of the road close to the Panorama café taverna and walk the 150 rock stairs to the cave and take in the expansiveness of the scenery around you, noting the winding road and the 300 meter drop below.

Crete _ Cave Wisdom God - Elos

The name of the cave and small church of Agía Sofía, according to local legend, was given from an icon that was brought from a temple in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul); by local Cretan fighters who defended the city shores against attacks by Ottoman soldiers. It is said, that when Sultan Mehmed II announced a truce and allowed the Cretans to return home, that they couldn’t take any guns. Therefore, in exchange they were given permission to take something else. A Wisdom of God icon was taken and hidden in this cave where the church of Agía Sofía now stands, built into the side of the caves inner wall.

Crete _ Cave Wisdom God - Elos

Crete _ Cave Wisdom God - ElosCrete _ Cave Wisdom God - ElosThe cave has many stalagmites and stalactites, a small belfry and a metallic star that stands in the centre of a circular stone paved platform.



After spending time visiting the cave of Agía Sofía, we make our way to the village of Élos.

Crete Village of Elos Chestnut Festival

The annual Chestnut Festival is in full swing and the local tavernas are overflowing with people enjoying traditional homemade food whilst listening to the live local music.

The small village of Élos is surrounded by aged old chestnut and plane trees, together with olive groves providing picturesque scenery in every direction. The festival marks the coming of autumn and time for harvesting the chestnuts’. Along with the opportunity for the locals to come together and share their produce.

Sharing a meal with my Cretan friends is always a truly enjoyable experience. There’s lots of laughter, good humour, wine (krasí), GR – κρασί, and wonderful traditional local food.

Most importantly on this occasion – chestnuts.

Pastries made with chestnuts, savoury chestnut dishes, chestnut sweets and my favourite, freshly roasted chestnuts. Lunch is also accompanied by the local traditional Tsikoudia GR – τσικουδιά, a honey flavoured rakí, GR – ρακή.

As our lunch feast is finishing, a friend tells me that a group of 12 men in traditional clothing are on the stage singing. As I approach the makeshift stage I can hear their strong and clear voices as no music in playing in the background. I learn that this style of music is known as “rizitika” – rebel songs. A slow style of song with more of a narrative character, about marriage, death, historical events and heroic characters.

Crete Village of Elos Chestnut Festival

I also learn more about the clothing. The black headscarf (Sarikía, GR – Σαρικία) and the boots (Stivania, GR – στιβάνια) that are being warm by the men. The Sarikía with the tear drop like braid is worn by Cretan man symbolising the mourning of the many lives lost during the uprising against the Ottoman rulers. Each tear drop braid is said to represent the number of years that Crete was under Ottoman rule. The Stivania boots are individually handmade for each person by a master craftsmen bootmaker, GR – tsogári and like Sarikía are worn with pride by local Cretan men. Stop by the area known as stivanádika, GR – στιβανάδικα the ‘Stivania workshops’, just off Chalidon Street near the central market in Chania, Old Town to see the craftsmen at work.

Crete Church of Agios Nikolaos ElosFrom the centre of the village, I take a short walk to the church of Agios Nikolaos, GR – Άγιος Νικόλαος with its pretty clock tower.


Meanwhile, back in the square the sounds of the Cretan lyre, GR – λύρα, accompanied by the Cretan laouto GR – λαούτο and a modern base guitar, bring harmonious and poetic sounding music and rhythm. Along with a group of local dancers dressed in traditional folk costumes.

My wonderful friends dancing Elos Chestnut Festival

As the music continues, it’s therefore time for some of my friends to take to the open space makeshift dance floor and enjoy the celebrations.

The days celebrations continue, and it’s time for us to leave.

Crete Village of Elos Chestnut Festival

Before we leave, we line up to buy some more of those tasty and freshly roasted chestnuts for the drive home.

Kolymbari Crete

Kolymbari Crete

Driving back to Chania, we make a collective decision to stop at the local fishing village of Kolympári, GR – Κολυμπάρι. A pretty village nestled at the foot of the Rodopou peninsula for a late afternoon drink by the sea.

This blog is one of a number in a series of blog posts sharing historic events, ancient history and the hypnotic wonders of many parts of Greece and her Islands and more specifically information on day trips, starting at the Venetian Harbour City of Chania, in western Crete; including ancient historic sites in Crete that I have written sharing personal journeys that have enriched my life and broadened my knowledge and understanding of the richness and diversity of our shared world. Experiencing the gifts of a new outer landscape in a new country that evokes ones senses in many and varied ways, and provides offerings of reflection that is awakening the inner landscape. I invite you to read and learn more about other locations within Greece and her Islands here.

Embracing the lessons and learning’s that a new outer landscape gives is one of life’s inspirational mysteries. Yet our personal horoscope offers valuable insights that guide each of us with acknowledging the lessons and integrating the learning’s through the practice of Astrocartography, Where Location Matters.

Below you’ll find a personal account of how and why Astrocartography is a valuable guide to support the awakening of your inner landscape. See how together with your personal horoscope and Astrocartography you can incorporate the outer and inner landscapes.

Book you Astrocartography, Where Location Matters today, here and awakening your inner knowing to the locations that are calling you.

Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope that I bring some inspiration (if needed) to visit this amazing and magical part of the world. Leave a comment and let me know, and visit A Soul Awakening to subscribe and receive new blog posts as they become available.

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Crete Chestnuts and Cretan Dancers Crete Chestnuts and Cretan Dancers










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  • Gabby 18 November 2019 5:04 pm

    I’m always amazed at how old history can be in places like Greece, especially in comparison to countries like Australia. But I’m even more amazed at how they sing about and celebrate the even older empire of the Ottomans! So hard to get my head around!

    • ASoulAwakening 21 November 2019 9:01 pm

      Having spent time learning Australia Aboriginal history; the two countries histories are both pretty fascinating in their own way. Crete doesn’t actually celebrate the Ottomans; rather they celebrate their victory of freeing their country of the many years of the Ottoman occupation.

  • Georgina 25 November 2019 2:57 am

    I like your journey of discovering and exploring Crete. The little town of Elos sounds interesting and love their music! Hope to visit Crete next year. I do love chestnuts. Thank you for sharing, Marilyn x

    • ASoulAwakening 30 November 2019 9:19 pm

      Thank you Georgina, appreciate your kind words. Crete has much to offer ay any time of the year. I look forward to meeting with you when you are over this way. 🙂

  • Rhonda Albom 9 December 2019 8:00 am

    What a fun time. I love that video with the traditional dancing. While I have been to several islands nearby, Crete was never before on my radar. Thanks for taking me somewhere new.

    • ASoulAwakening 9 December 2019 10:03 pm

      Thank you Rhonda. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the annual Elos Chestnut Festival on a couple of occasions. Crete, and all the Greek Islands are wonderful and each has their own uniqueness.

  • Kim 15 June 2023 8:36 am

    Crete seems to have so much to offer for such a small island. The Chestnut Festival looks like fun, and I’ll have to keep it in mind if I’m going over there.

  • Lisa 15 June 2023 10:11 am

    This sounds like a great experience. Chestnuts always remind me of autumn and the leaves that come with the changing of the seasons.

  • Angela 15 June 2023 11:02 am

    How interesting that a festival has been derived from the humble chestnut. I would love to taste the different products made from the nut. It sounds like its a time to mingle with locals and be part of the celebrations

  • Taylor 15 June 2023 12:54 pm

    This festival seems like a very cool and authentic experience. I have been to a few Greek islands but not Crete, so that is next on my list!

  • Melanie 17 June 2023 9:38 am

    Love the video of the dancers, and I can imagine that group of men singing was incredible to hear live. Thanks for sharing about this festival!

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