The village of Kournas
Kournas is a pretty traditional village 8 km from Georgioupoli and about 4 km from Lake Kournas.
If you are visiting Lake Kournas it is worth driving 15 minutes further along the narrow uphill road to Kournas.
While the lake is 'touristy', Kournas village is completely unaffected by tourism and takes visitors on a journey back in time, as do many villages in the interior of Crete (these words were written in 2009, I hope I won’t need to change them in future…)
The old houses, the village square, the pottery workshop opposite the large kafeneio and Agapinakis's taverna "Kali Kardia", with its wonderful salads and delicious meat, are the first things you will notice in the village of Kournas.
The village of Kournas has 500 inhabitants and lies at an altitude of 200 metres in the foothills of Mount Dafnomadara (1680 m).
Kournas prospered from the 16th century onwards and is linked to many battles for freedom from the Turks. It was the seat of the Revolutionary Government in the Rising of 1866 and the seat of the Cretan General Assembly in 1897.
The village of Kournas lacks particular facilities for tourists, but nearby Georgioupoli offers everything you might need.
In the village of Kournas is the church of Agios Georgios, to which leads a road to the right of the square. It was built in Byzantine times, with architectural features added later during the Venetian period. The church is locked and you will not be able to see inside unless you find someone in the neighbourhood to give you the key, but it’s worth a try.
The Byzantine church of Agios Georgios in Kournas was built shortly before 1200 AD
The 13th-century wall painting of the Deesis (Supplication) of the Apostles
Apart from the feast of St George, a great festival is also held in Kournas on 29 August, in honour of St John the Baptist. There is yet another festival on 16 August, organized by the Kournas Cultural Association.
Between the village and the lake of Kournas is a very pretty cave, Kournas Cave, which offers a wonderful view of the lake. The cave is relatively small, only 35 metres deep, but it contains impressive stalactites and stalagmites. If you go in the afternoon, the cave is dark but the little light coming in makes it truly spectacular.