The village of Argyroupolis is located near the “borders” of Chania and Rethymno prefectures in Crete and situated 27 km from Rethymno city and 55 km from the historic city of Chania. A picturesque village, built on a majestic hill, surrounded with ruins of ancient Lappa. With its location being at an altitude of 280m, it provides a magical backdrop and views of true Crete. It was declared by the Ministry of Culture as «Preservable archaeological area» in 1983, and must be experienced to get a true sense of this place.
It’s believed that the region of Lappa gained full control of the area from north to south in the past, and it had its own harbors in the north and south of Crete. Nowadays the village will provide guests with important ruins, such as two Roman baths, basilicas and three statues of Venus, Jupiter and Bacchus. Considerable efforts have also been taken to restore the Venetian houses, which today are inhabited by private individuals.
Near Argyroupolis (1.5 km) you will find the springs from the Mouselas River, also known as “Argyroupolis Springs”. The area around the springs is very green with many added waterfalls. Here you can enjoy your meal or your coffee in the tranquility of local tavernas. The water streams from the cave, in which the chapel of “Holy Force” (Agia Dinami) was built. The springs of Argyroupolis actually provides enough water to cover the needs of the city of Rethymno.
Northwest of Argyroupolis, approximately one kilometer away, there are five cave tombs, were it is believed that the Five Holy Virgins (Thekla, Mariana, Ethane or Athena, Martha and Mary) were buried, and it is testified that they lived during the time of Roman Emperor Decius, around 250 AD. Above the ancient graves, with its holy water wells, a small church dedicated to Five Holy Virgins, is celebrated on Easter Tuesday.
History of the area
Before the area got its current name, it was known with many different ones. The name “Polis” (meaning City) was mentioned in 1577 by Franco Barozzi and by Kastrofilakas. Chourmouzis also referred to the area by the name “Gaidouropoli” in 1842. The Byzantines also called it "Polis" and the Venetians used the same name as a legacy since they built their settlement on the ruins of the ancient great city "Lappa", where Argyroupolis is located. Today the area is called Argyroupolis which means the silver city named after the ancient mine.
Excavations brought to light many architectural relics of ancient Lappa. The oldest of them dates back to the Late Geometric period (900 – 700 B.C.), a time of startling innovation and transformation in the Greek society.
Extensive use of the land is confirmed in the Late Hellenistic (323 B.C. – 30 B.C.) and Early Roman periods. The best and proven on a larger scale evidence of the area’s cultural and economic prosperity comes from the late Roman period. The architectural remains of this period are truly impressive. Lappa, as calculated from the ruins of ancient settlements, had more than 10 000 inhabitants, whilst it was a great naval power. The community also had their own monies for payment. Several currencies have representations of sea species such as dolphins, tridents and more.
In the Lamaniana location, close to Argyroupolis a pagan rock tomb of the Greco-Roman era is carved. The villagers believed that the Five Holy Virgins, Thekla, Mariana, Ethane or Athena, Martha and Mary were buried here and in turn they built a rock near the small church, dedicated to the Five Virgins.
During the second Byzantine period the area was handed over to the Chortatsis family in a feud. However, after the failure of the revolution against the Venetians the area was given to Alexis Kallergis as a payback for his help to the Venetians in suppressing the revolution of the Chortatsis family. At that time the city had become a refuge and a base for the rebels.
During the Ottoman occupation the village was known as "Gaidouropoli" or "Samaropoli". In 1822 the revolutionary committee named it "Argyroupolis". Due to its unique geographical position, the city played an important role in the revolutions of the 19th century. Many times the Cretan rebels denounced the Sultan here and voted for the union with Greece. In 1867 Argyroupolis was the capital city of the General Assembly of the Cretans, in 1878 the General Assembly voted for a union with Greece, eliminating the sovereignty of the sultan. Then the rebels destroyed the great foundations of the "Governors Palace", which was built by the Turks in Argyroupolis.