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The history of Maleme
The historic village, a today˘s Platania Municipality district, is on the way to Kissamos on the 16,5th km. Its story travels through the centuries, as shown from the archeological findings. More specifically at the Kaukales spot north of the village, a vaulted tomb has been discovered , although robbed , from the late Minoan era from where several shells and 2 big stones were excavated from. The one was cupreous and the other agatious with a deer display on it. A French archeologist named Paul Faure suggests that the name this town carries comes from the Greek word “malama” meaning gold. This opinion of him stands on the possibility of a gold mine existence in the area.

First historical reference of this area with the name “Maleme” was on the Kydonia province in 1577 by Fr.Barozzi , and by the guard of the castle with the name “Maleme et Venerocori” . In 1853, 101 people used to live there paying their dues with chores.

Maleme, keeping the same name through the centuries, came through the whole time Greece was under the rule of Turks, until nowadays. When the time came that Turks abandoned Crete, villagers emigrated here with their families from “Lakkous”.

The village “was built” by these villagers the era between 1832 and 1842. Shepherds from Lakkous used “Spatha “ and “Grampousa” capes as pasture lands at winter times , so they had to pass through Maleme. By the time Turks were to leave, some of them, they suggested that some people of the “Paraskakis” family buy some property at Maleme. When one accomplished his dreams and bought was only the start. Others followed and lived here and on ”Psamoudoxori”. As there was no church, they had to spend Christmas and Easter at the nearby villages. The one that had to wake the people to go to church, each of these times, fell asleep one time and they missed the ceremony. Unacceptable as it was, the situation led to deciding a church construction.

As most of the villagers were from Lakkous, the temple of Ag.Antonios was dedicated to the same Saint their village had as a patron.

Villagers from “Galanidis” family offered their property to build this temple, a temple with vaulted roof in the middle 1840˘s.
As the time passed they needed a bigger temple. Defining help was the concession of the property of “Hatzi Mihalis Giannaris” who gave the main land and the “Galanidis” family who gave up their land too, so as the first temple construction took place.
In 1918 the big temple was finally built. Before the foundation were constructed two opinions were on for discussion. Either a bigger temple was about to be built or a magnificent and imposing one. A characteristic was that they used for the first time the phrase “pull the ribbon” to the builder as he measured the dimensions.

This particular phrase is used until nowadays to comment the state or an event which is going to last for a long time.
The inauguration of the temple took place in 1938. After that the war broke up: The British wanted to build an airport on Maleme. The villagers gave up the needed land.
Their kids were already fighting at Albania.

In the battle of Crete, German made their way to take control of Maleme airport. That would ease the way for their aircrafts to descend. That was accomplished in the battle of the second night. Until then all their planes had been destroyed by weapons, canons and especially from the 107 elevation of Vlacheronitissa. That night the British were not able to send reserves on the elevation. Telephone contact had been cut off. Information revealed that the commander of the British army on Platania decided to send a messenger on the evelation to see what had happened. The messenger never came back.
When the German army reached the evelation, Crete receded.
The village during German possession was depopulated. The residents seeked a hiding place in other villages.

After the village occupation, a part of Maleme became prisoner camp. There were 5 to 6 thousands prisoners, Greek and British, behind the bars. In this camp there was also the church of Saint George. When the Germans emptied the camp they used the church to store plane parts. That was the main reason of the constant bombing from the British army.

Maleme had also another 3 churches in the airport area. In the middle of the airport, approximately 200 meters above sea there was Saint Georges˘ church. It was ruined to build the airport. Nearby there was the village cemetery and the temple of Saint Marina, which was ruined by the Germans cause it gave away the airport position from the air. Finally, Saint John whose temple was 100 meters before Tauroniti bridge was destroyed for the same reason.
The village was abandoned and depopulated during the German rule: “We lived elsewhere, anywhere anyone knew. We particularly, went to Ntere the first days. Later we went to the Lake, then to Kontomari and to Kissamo. Our village suffered a lot.

After the village was finally released from the rule, people began to build up the ruins. The school was ruined from the bombs. Underneath the ground the Germans had dug a shelter. The building was most inappropriate. Until recently the school was housed in the cultural event hall next to Saint Antonios. Today there is a school complex in Maleme.
The six grade elementary school(and nursing), gathers children from all around the villages. The cemetery was transported on a mountain side south of the village. There was built a new temple of Saint Marina, which celebrates every year on 17 july.
From the tragic Battle of Crete and from the dark days of German rule the only thing left is memories. In the German cemetery Maleme, 1 km away from the village, rest the bones of German soldiers who took part at The Crete Battle.
Maleme on summer inquires, common fact for all the coastal villages, hectic life a faster way of life. The village has rich hotel structure. On the coastal area there are several restaurants and cafeterias. The village has always an open farm clinic. There is also a drugstore, grocery store, tourist shop and 2 traditional cafes. At Maleme there is cultural event hall cared by the local cultural association.

Maleme has been declared by ministerial decision as the historical land of Platania Municipality.


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