One of the most beautiful and traditional Cretan villages of Crete is Ethia in the Archanes-Asterousia Municipality, Ethia village has a population of about 300 people, most of whom are involved in agriculture and cattle-breeding. Ethia has been listed a traditional hamlet. It is a typical example of a mountain village of Crete, on the Asterousia Mountain Range at an altitude of 740m, surrounded by five mountain peaks. It is a very impressive land and very well-preserved, thanks to the efforts of the locals, who have been working tirelessly for years on the restoration of its buildings, laying down cobbles in the narrow streets, and, mainly, keeping their village alive, despite the difficulties due to its distant location.
The name Ethia (Itea – Itia, meaning “willow”) originates from a plant, as do the names of other villages in the area (Amygdalos, Mournia). Legend speaks of a large tree with enormous branches that provided shade for the locals and passers by – and feasts and celebrations were held under its leafy branches. There are no traces of this legendary tree any more, but, if you start up the road that climbs the bare stone mountain over Rotasi, your eyes will immediately be drawn to the young green pine trees, that suddenly alter the landscape as soon as you reach the village entrance. It is a bocage planted by the locals, which has become an oasis of green on the treeless ridge of the Asterousia.
The village is located 90 km south of Heraklion town.
The village churches are Panagia (Virgin Mary) built in 1909 and Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah). Profitis Ilias with its age-old wooden iconostasis, is built on a rising with a panoramic view. According to one tradition, it was built in 1874 in just one day, as the ruling Ottoman Pasha had only allowed from sunrise to sunset for it to be built. A great festival is held here every year for Prophet Elijah’s feast.
You park your car and start walking through neighbourhoods where ruined houses reign along with stone arches, plants that sprout through the carefully carved stones, fireplaces blackened by the fire that once lit them. Standing as the only vivid element in a place where it feels like time suddenly stopped and interrupted all human activity, you can’t help but reflect on the vanity of human civilization. But then you move a little further and you see blossomed gardens and open window blinds that bring you back to simple pleasures and remind you that anyhow, life goes on! Even for the few elderly people left in this little village.
Every year Profitis Ilias is celebrated and its festival is held.
A guest house was built and inaugurated in 2007 at the centre of the village in the honor of Agios Eymenios. Many festivities are held there with the help and contribution of its hospitable residents.