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Archanes – Crete, the 2nd Best Village in Europe

The name Archanes was derived from the 5th century B.C. and is read Archana, in singular form. The root of the name is Indo - European and has to do with water. And in reality there is abundant water in Archanes, which is also proven by the fact that Ancient Knossos was irrigated by the dam of Archanes. Even during Venetian Rule, Morozini transferred water to Heraklion from Archanes, that's why there is a fountain in Archanes that is named after Morozini.
In the interview we had with the Mayor of Archanes, Mr. Stavros Arnaoutaki, we learnt of the history of the village and we were pleasantly surprised. We have made a large attempt in all the sectors, the Mayor told us, that a Municipality could contribute to. Likewise we emphasize on the natural and the constructed environment. The aesthetic upgrade of Archanes is unique for the whole Greece. We have refurbished more than 170 traditional houses and redecorated more than 50.000 sq.m. of communal places. The electricity network is underground throughout the whole village and there is cable TV in 500 buildings. Besides that, having solved the infrastructure problems, we were given this great honor, which is also great for Greece, to be able to compete with other European villages that have already proceeded to the improvement of their citizen's lives and the development that we all envision for a better tomorrow. For us and for our children. The competition was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

How was this vision created?
We started off as a team in 1981 full of love for our homeland. All the characteristics of Archanes are all traditional. We have about 5000 years history and culture that is hard to find in other villages of Crete and we wanted to develop that. We started from the 1st Primary School and we made it into an Archeological Museum. After that we removed the aluminium from the houses of the village and added wood and ceramic tiles on the roofs and painted them in Minoan colours. We have an outdoor public cinema, we hold a Panhellenic Guitar Competition with Mr. Kavako, Ms. Kamerata and the Orchestra of Colours and many other exhibitions all year round. Slowly, one thing lead to another and with the help of YPEHODE and all the ministries of Greece and Crete we have reached the place we are now. However you must taken into consideration that we are not independently wealthy and any improvements we want to make we have to find financial backing.

You always refer to a group, but I imagine that this vision was thought of by one mind?
I found myself being nominated for Mayor without even realizing it. I used occupy myself with athletics and because they were one nominee short, they made me the offer. However, what ever we do is not the result of one person's effort. I was always in love with my birthplace, it was were I grew up and to be honest with you it is a love that grows each day regardless of the years that have passed and for those that are yet to come. In Archanes you will not find a person that is lazy or unemployed. We are proud of that fact.

With such bright ideas how come you have not set higher goals, such as politics?
My education is not of high standards, I have finished high school and I now I am a student of business management in the Open University of Patra. Together with being the mayor of Archanes, I am also the president of the Heraklion Development Committee for the past 11 years, where we handle the programs of the European Union that concern the environmental issues. But above all I am a family man and have their love and full support. Personally I think that we have to do what pleases us the most and serve our citizens for their love that they have shown. That can not be replaced by any position.

How do you handle new technologies and the internet?
We have a good relationship, in fact we are uploading our own website on the Net. I also have to mention that we are one of the three councils in Greece that have received the ISO 9001 for the facilities that the council has offered in all the parts of life and from ELOT where it is well known that they make a much more thorough inspection, then the private companies that the rest have received their certificates from. How do you cope with tourism? Archanes is mainly a agricultural municipality and our goal is for tourism to brings in a healthy income. We passed through a crisis the past few years in the agricultural sector but we are already recovering from it. We are on of the first areas to certify and ensure the quality of our exports. We have already made an offer to get certification for all our exportable goods. We are also a location of great historical importance, which is a main attraction as well. It was here that the first wine - press, which dates back to 1600 B.C., was found that shows that they even the cultivated wine and oil back then. Here we have also found Minoan tombs and a Minoan Palace, which is been dug up this very moment by the couple Sakkelaraki. In Archanes we also had rituals to the God Poseidon as well as the celebration of Yakinthion. Also in the epigraphs that have been found, they have also mentioned Zeus. The evidence that suggest that Zeus grave is found in Archanes is not a lot but they are strongly suggest that it is especially in the newer years. Giouchtas, the mountain that towers over the village, it is not only known for its location ad the shape of it, which resembles a human head, but also for the discovery of 4 churches. However even in more recent history our area is well known, since it was the first city in Crete to be freed from the Turks. Important is also the fight of Archanes during the World War II. Because of all this we are a Municipality, not because we have the population to be considered one but because we have been honored for the invaluable contribution we have offered to this place. There are also many books about the area as well as Internet sites that have information.
ANTHI AGGELOPOULOU

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