Askifou plateau is about 50 kilometres from Chania, at an altitude of 730 metres, and is part of the area known as Sfakia. You will find yourself on the Askifou Plateau if you take the road from Vrisses village to Hora Sfakion, Loutro or Frangokastello. Vrisses is above the north road axis and the road from here to Askifou is uphill, relatively narrow and with many bends.
Askifou (or Askyfou, Ασκύφου) = Skyphos = Cup
Askifou plateau is surrounded by the White Mountains and resembles a giant cup, a skyphos in Ancient Greek, whence the name Askifou.
Many thousands of years ago, the Askifou Plateau was probably a large lake.
In 1821 there was a battle here between the Turks and the Sfakians, resulting in victory for the locals, Unfortunately the villages of Askifou were burned down by Hussein Bey two years later, in 1823.
A relic of those times is the small fortress still standing at the top of the hill northeast of the plateau (see photo).
Routes from Askifou
The peaks of the White Mountains you see on reaching Askifou from the north are Kastro to the west (2,218 m), Tripali to the east (1, 493 m) and Agathes (1,511 m) to the south.
- The road to Hora Sfakion and Frangokastello continues through the southern pass. Here, too, is the entrance to the Imbros Gorge, a beautiful gorge which you can walk down in two hours, ending at the village of Komitades.
- To the east of the plateau is a road which descends to the abandoned village of Asfendou and the Kallikratis plateau. From Kallikratis you can go either to Frangokastello or to Asi Gonia and from there to the verdant Springs of Argiroupoli and Rethymnon.
- To the west of the plateau is a road and a path leading up to Niato Plateau and the Tavri mountain lodge. This is the start of a hiking route in the White Mountains, the climb to Kastro peak (2,218 m).
What to do in Askifou
- In the village of Kares in Askifou you can visit the War Museum of Georgios Hatzidakis, who was born in 1931 and has been collecting Second World War or earlier war material found in the area since he was 14.
All the rooms in the museum and even the courtyard are packed full of rifles, revolvers, swords, mortars, shells, binoculars, military uniforms, even the propeller of a plane shot down in the Battle of Crete.
The oldest exhibit is a small ship’s cannon from the Daskaloyannis revolt (1770), while the largest is a German bomb.
- In Askifou you will also find rooms to stay and tavernas where you can try traditional local cooking, especially “Sfakianes pites”: thin pastry with soft cheese and honey.
- Finally, those whose favourite hobby is hunting will find a hunter’s paradise here, the Lefkoritis Resort. You can stay in traditional apartments and enjoy a variety of activities such as riding, mountain biking, hiking, excursions in the local area and scuba diving on the south coast.
There is also a shooting range for those who want to improve their aim, while hunters can hunt various animals in a controlled private area.
If you do not have the necessary equipment you can rent whatever you need, even hunting dogs.