Aptera is a very unique village, situated on an elevated location on the south part of Souda Bay, overlooking the whole bay and the Apokoronas plains. It is obvious that this strategic location is linked with a very rich history. First of all, the name “Aptera”, meaning “without wings” in ancient Greek, has an interesting story behind it. On this spot, in ancient times, there used to be a center for the musical arts with a big temple dedicated to the Muses. According to ancient Greek mythology, the Sirens challenged the Muses to a music competition in the temple, but in the end the Sirens lost, and they were so sad, that their feathers fell off into Souda Bay, leaving them wingless, or “aptera”.
Regarding historical facts, on this location there used to be the known city state of Aptera, one of the wealthiest cities of ancient Crete, which issued its own coin. The city was inhabited for many centuries, from the ancient Minoan years up to the Roman times. The citizens of ancient Aptera were mostly merchants and ship owners, as most of the trade at the time was transported via the sea. Excavations have taken place to unearth parts of ancient Aptera, and it is an excellent idea to visit the archaeological site to the east of the village. To the east of the archaeological site there are also the remains of the Koules of Aptera, a fortress built by the Ottomans after the Cretan revolution of 1866.
The village of Aptera of present times is essentially a settlement of scattered houses in the area, with a church in its center. In recent years numerous villas and new houses have been built in the village, as it offers breathtaking views over Souda Bay. You should keep in mind that until some years ago, the village of Aptera was called “Megala Chorafia” (meaning “large fileds” in Greek), due to its large crop fields, and you may still encounter the old name of the village in some road signs.