The 16th-century village of Kapsaliana in Rethymno, Crete has been transformed from a desolate, almost desolate place into a pioneering, world-class hotel.
At the time of the Venetian occupation, Kapsaliana was part of the Arkadi Monastery estate, the island’s most emblematic monastery. It would subsequently play a pivotal, heroic and dramatic role during the War of Independence.
Around 1600, a little chapel dedicated to Archangel Michael was constructed, and a hamlet began to develop.
In 1763, Filaretos, the Abbot of Arkadi Monastery decided to build an olive oil mill in the area, as its soil and morphology make it ideal for this undertaking. The olive was, at the time, key to daily life. It was a staple of nutrition and used in religious ceremonies. Furthermore, it functioned as a source of light and heat.
An increasing number of people came to work at the mill and built their homes around it. The settlement flourished, and at its peak, Kapsaliana boasted thirteen families and fifty inhabitants with the monk-steward of the Arkadi monastery in charge.
The settlement, however gradually, waned after WW2, as the mill—a source of life for more than 200 years—closed down in 1955.
The village in Crete gradually transformed into a hotel
When architect Myron Toupoyannis discovered this place in the 1970’s, only seven residents had remained. He fell in love with the place; after all, his professional interests focused on the restoration of similar traditional settlements.
Toupoyannis, after visiting many artfully restored villages in Italy and France, decided to buy a couple of crumbling residences in Kapsaliana. His purpose was still unclear, and it was merely pure and undiluted instinct that drove his decisions.
After vanquishing many obstacles—as well as significant time and money constraints—Toupoyannis’ vision eventually acquired a more specific shape and form. Works of restoration were painstaking and lengthy. Above all, the architect’s first and foremost concern is to do justice to the land’s legacy and the spirit of the local, vernacular architecture.
In 2008, Kapsaliana Village hotel opened its gates and greeted its first visitors. It received rave reviews, but the creator did not rest on his laurels.
Kapsaliana Village hotel is a never-ending work in progress. It is a dynamic community that never stops evolving, and it continuously strives to offer its guests unparalleled experiences that capture the essence of the present time.
The Kapsaliana Village Hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of Europe and is absolutely charming.