A small seaside village Panormos is nowadays an important travel destination in northern Crete. In the turn of C19 and up to early C20 the town’s small port had vibrant import and export activity.
Vessels carrying various goods anchored in its small bay loading produce of Milopotamos including carob, citrus, olive oil.
A series of craftsmen making traditional items including barrels, saddles, shoes as well as iron mongers and carpenters operated in Panormos. The town additionally hosted government agencies as well as warehouses for merchandise and a series of shops typical of the economic prosperity of the broader area at the time.
The development of a new road linking Iraklion to Rethymno at about 8 km and bypassing Panormos before World War II marked the beginning of decreased prosperity. The bombing of the village during WWII and its occupation delivered the final blow to the economy of Panormos.
It’s worth noting that Panormos hosted the Bishop of Milopotamos during the second byzantine period. Kasteli as a second name was added to Panormos and survived up to the beginning of C20. Kasteli derives from fortifications – seven towers and two gates whose ruins are still visible by the church. The fortress was built by Genoan forces of Enrico Pescatore who occupied the site for a short period.
In the former province of Milopotamos that used to include Panormos there are many places to see. Here is a list of sightseeing attractions:
Stone carob mill
Panormos is home to possibly the only remaining large carob mill of Crete, designated as an industrial monument by the Ministry of Culture. Under the management of the Cultural organisation of Panormos ‘Epimenides’, the evocative stone building which served for decades to mass process large quantities of carob from surrounding areas now offers an important site for cultural events, congress and trade fairs in Crete.
Having contributed significantly to strengthening the cultural activity of Rethymno and Crete it provides a venue for a variety of events organised every so often among others concerts, plays, shows, seminars, conferences and film screenings.
Excavated into the light in 1948 by archaeologists K Kalokiris and N Platonas, at about one km south west of Panormos stand the remains of Crete’s largest Paleo- Christian Basilica. Dating from C4 the timber- roofed church dedicated to Hagia Sofia was possibly attacked during invasions by Arab troops in C7th when it was destroyed. Findings from the excavation however testify that it was in service as late as C9 and provide evidence to its strong position in the community of Panormos at the time.
Church of St George and of the Assumption and castle ruins
During a short period of occupation by Genoan troops under Enrico Pescatore Panormos acquired a fortification, hence the name ‘Kasteli’ by which the town was known for a significant period. Remains of the fortifications are still standing next to the old stone church of the Assumption rising prominently above the village port.
Way to the lighthouse
On the hills east of the village halfway to the cemetery of Ag Nikolaos starts the way to the lighthouse of Panormos. Following the rough eastern coastline and at a short level above the sea, the easy 30 min walk takes you to the lighthouse of Panormos where you can enjoy a panorama onto the Cretan Sea.