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Viannos has its own Omalos, lesser-known compared to the one over Samaria gorge, but equally (or perhaps, differently) impressive. A trip to Kato Simi and Omalos Viannou will reveal one of the most charming mountainous landscapes of Crete: a little village with shuddering history nested among ancient plane trees and forested slopes and a vast pine tree forest –for Cretan standards- once the “Holy Mountain” of the ancient islanders. 

The Battle of Kato Simi
The Battle of Kato Simi is not well documented, despite its great importance during the WWII resistance on the island of Crete and its dramatic consequences for the whole region of Viannos. It took place on September 1943 and resulted in an overwhelming defeat for the German occupation army. The cause that initiated the clashes was the murder of two German ‘potato-collectors’ in Kato Simi.  They were called like that because their task was to collect potatoes for the German army; even though what they really collected was information, as the region of Viannos and the forest of Kato Simi was the center of the Cretan Resistance at the time and base of the great rebel army of Manolis Mpantouvas. After the murder of the ‘potato-collectors’ the Germans sent a whole legion in Kato Simi; what they didn’t know, however, is that the Cretan rebels had set an ambush. The German army suffered great losses: some talk about 84-86 dead and according to other sources there were more than 100 dead and many prisoners. The Germans did not let this insult go unanswered and the response was very harsh: the villages of Kato Simi and Pefkos were burned down while all neighboring villages were surrounded and all men were killed. Retaliation acts did not end there; a month later, on October 1943, group executions were conducted and many villages of the region were blown up with dynamite: Pefkos, Simi, Krevatas, Kalami, Sykologos and more. 

The forest of Kato Simi and the plateau of Omalos

So many sad stories in such a beautiful place…today, fortunately, only beauty prevails in the region. Since you are here, do not miss the (almost) abandoned village of Ano Simi and the temple of Agios Georgios, a few kilometers up the road after Kato Simi, and the pine tree forest with striking views the further up you go. On the way to the plateau of Omalos you will meet the sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite at the archaeological site of Kria Vrysi. 
It is one of the most important sanctuaries of antiquity and it functioned continuously for 27 centuries (!), from the mid-Minoan period to the Roman Empire. Its ideal location in the pine forest with the Libyan Sea in the background suggests that this was probably the ‘Holy Mountain’ of antiquity, which, according to Geographer Ptolemy was located between the ancient cities of Itanos and Ierapitna (today Ierapetra).
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Coordinatesb35°13′N 24°55′E
 Country    Greece
 Capital Heraklion
 Regional units
 • Total 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi)
Highest elevation 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 623,065
 • Density 75/km2 (190/sq mi)

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