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Anogeia and Shepherds

Anogeia is a small mountain town, at a distance of 54 kilometers from Rethymno and at an altitude of 830 meters, on the ridge of Psiloritis Mountain. The terrain in the surrounding area is mainly mountainous and most of the inhabitants are engaged in animal husbandry, which is their main-source-of-income activity. The shepherds of Psiloritis breed a large number of sheep and goats (over 80,000 animals).

Until 50 years ago, life for the Shepherds of Anogeia was very difficult. From March to November, almost everyone took their flocks to the mountains. The route was very demanding and lasted 2 weeks. In order to have enough food for the winter, they carried legumes, beans and fava beans and local seeds with them to cook. The conditions were very harsh with the cold, wet weather and the darkness. They lived in the Mitato, the small, round, stone-built structure and even a month could go by before they visited their village. Day after day, someone from the village would come to bring them food and the news from the village. They should have collected wood and loaded it on this person’s donkey to take it to the village, to their families. In November, the shepherds went down to the chimadios and spent the summer. Chimadio is a lowland area chosen by the shepherds for the Summer to provide food for the animals and to avoid the adverse weather conditions of the mountains.

Life was very tiring and poor. The shepherds always helped each other and all this difficulty created a distinct culture, with values, in Anogia. Anogeans are tough, indomitable and rebellious, they have solidarity and mutual understanding, they support and love all their fellow villagers, they are very hospitable, they respect Mother Nature, they love democracy but they are humble and religious, at the same time. They have a special sense of humor and a great artistic tradition. In Crete we say 'we have all the Cretans on the one side and the Anogeans on the other side'.

Nowadays, the life of shepherds is very good, but their ideals and values ​​have remained unchanged.

Mitata, the Shepherd's Place, a theme park, has been created 1 kilometer southeast of Anogeia. The park is a representation of the activities and lodgings of the shepherds of Psiloritis. The visitor can participate in animal farming activities, such as cheese making and shearing of the animals, and taste local products. The surrounding wilderness offers unique trails for hiking, bird watching and herb searching. The park has an open theater for 150 people, where musical evenings, theatrical performances and themed events take place. The e-mail, for visiting the park, is Info@n-idea.gr and the contact phone number is 00306974722311.

(More articles about Crete on www.gomega.gr)