Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.
Where is Margarites?
Margarites is about 26 km (16 miles) east of Rethymnon, about a 35-minute drive. It's about 7 km (4 miles) from the Dalabelos Estate, where we stayed the night before visiting Margarites. It stands about 300 meters (984 ft) above sea level.
(c) Google Maps
We were encouraged to visit Margarites by Vasilis, owner of
the Dalabelos Eco-Tourism Estate, where we'd spent the second night of our most
recent visit to Crete. We already knew about Margarites, though, as we'd paid a
quick visit on an earlier visit to Crete when we spent six weeks there
researching a guidebook. We definitely wanted to go back for longer.
Our guide Isi from GoCrete.net drove us the few minutes from Dalabelos to Margarites, parking below the village. Margarites has one narrow main street and a few back streets, and as we walked up the main street we were reminded what a colourful place Margarites is. Every few meters there's a pottery workshop or a ceramics studio, with bright displays both inside and outside.
The advantage of having a local guide like Isi is that he knows everyone and directed us to what he thought was the best place in town. This was the Kerameion pottery shop where Isi introduced us to owner and potter, Jorgos Dalamvelas. Jorgos was happy to show us some of his skills and we won't need to repeat it all here as we captured most of it for our YouTube channel.
The Ceramic Capital
By going to see Jorgos first, we learned a lot about
Margarites and its rich history of pottery-making, which goes back to Minoan
times. Most potters use the local clay, which is perfect for ceramics and is
one reason the pottery trade developed here.
We went to visit several other places, where potters were at work and giving demonstrations, but Jorgos remained our favourite. He was so passionate about pottery, and its role in the history of Margarites. Some shops had no potter or potter's wheel, and it was clear they were buying in pottery, probably from China. Yes, that 'Souvenir of Crete' that you find may well have been imported from China! But when you can see the potter making beautiful items before your eyes, you know you're buying the real thing and helping support the local economy.
In fact Isi told us one time that some of the big resorts buy their 'Greek' moussaka in large frozen and pre-cooked consignments from China too!
Jorgos showed us some novelty pottery, including jugs that played tricks and other fun things:
One thing he showed us was a salt cellar that he made, with several holes in the bottom, though no salt came out until you shook it side to side. I still don't know how it worked, as the salt should have simply poured through the holes, but it didn't until you shook it.
Donna was keen to buy one but we talked about it and decided against it, as this was only the second day of what would be a three-week trip, and we didn't want to load up with souvenirs - even if it was neat. We wandered along the street, and before we knew it Isi presented Donna with a gift. He had somehow sneaked back to the shop and bought one of the salt cellars for her. It was a typical act of Greek generosity and kindness... and we were to experience many more on our travels round Crete with Isi.
Our tour with GoCrete.net was a food and drink themed tour, which we'd asked Isi to organise, and he did it superbly. But he organises tours on other themes, like history, or covering particular parts of the island, and from a few hours to as long as you like.
Where to Stay on Crete
Other Crete pages
Driving central Crete in three days gives you time to see the highlights including the Minoan palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the beaches and the Diktean Cave.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.
Greece Travel Secrets eats at Vegera in Zaros and finds a cheap but wonderful feast of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes cooked daily with fresh local food.
This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.
Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.
The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.
Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.
Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.
The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.
Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.
How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely valley.
Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.
Driving on Crete is the best way to see Greece’s biggest island and here is our driving advice and some information about Greek driving regulations.
These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.
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