Giortes Rokkas constitute a meeting of society and culture in the villages of Rokka and Kera of Chania. A celebration of the arts and sciences organized by the residents themselves that attracts visitors from all around Greece and abroad. Giortes Rokkas first took place in the summer of 2013 and since then have been an annual event at the archaeological site of Rokka Kissamos, around the August full moon.
The idea behind this event is to bring together the raw beauty of the local community with the highest expression of art forms and the amalgamation created by their union will be established as a cultural destination every summer.
A definitive feature of the event is the transformation of conventional venue since acclaimed musicians and artists perform world renowned works in an isolated archaeological site, above a gorge of rare beauty, which without the residents’ concern and involvement would have remained untrodden ground due to its vegetation and its difficultness to reach.
Rokka is a semi-mountainous village, with approximately 30 permanent residents, in western Crete. In the archaeological region of Rokka (coterminous of modern village) and the acropolis Troulli, signs of ancient settlement are distinguishable, like the homes, the paths, the watertanks as well as the byzantine fortress that dominated the hill. Rock is the characteristic stone of the area which creates the identity of the geographic region.
The amphitheatre-like view of Rokka, the natural beauty of the gorge and the energy of the rocks establish this archaeological area as unique in all of Crete.
According to many archaeological sources, the sacrificial altar of Vritomartis, an epithet for the goddess Artemis in Crete, was located in ancient Rokka. In fact, there is a record of the ancient Rokkian Artemida who, in mythology, is considered among other things the protector of the moon.
This wonderful connection of the area with the archaeological findings and mythology was artistically recorded by the acclaimed sculptor of Rokka, Aspasia Papadoperaki. On the medal that she created, on the one side there is the Troulli, the symbol of the archaeological area, surrounded by the three export products of the village: an olive branch for the oil, a grape vine for the wine, and an apollonian lyra for the culture. On the other side we see the equestrian goddess Vritomartis returning to her archaeological region, Rokka, through the celebrations of the full moon.
Each year the medallion is awarded to the guest artists as a comprehensive narrative of the event and for the artist’s contribution itself.
Kera is 12 km southeast of Kissamos and has about 30 permanent residents. The etymology of the word Kera is still to be elucidated. Though some argue, without being confirmed, that the ancient city owes its name to the ally city Polyrhenia, Kerea, that it is said, it was somewhere around that area. The village is a crossroad of history, tradition and natural wealth. The stone sculpture of Antonousas Kastanakis, the brave warrior of the 19th century, crafted by the distinguished sculptor Aspasia Papadoperakis, dominates the square of the village and testifies to its struggles.
The “Plakoura” as it is called the old village settlement, the water mill, the forest with the waterfall and the caves with the stalactites make up a uniqueand beautiful scenery unfolding in the eyes of the unsuspected visitor. The cultural association of Kera ¨Antonousa¨ from the first Giortes Rokkas was the most prominent supporter, as the two neighboring villages are linked by brotherly ties. Starting from this year’s event, a big stage is constructed – a great celebration that hosts artistic and educational activities dedicated to theater and visual arts.
“Let our villages become… villages with lights on”
The archaeological area of Rokka has not been utilized until 2012 when the preparations began for the first event. This, in connection with the redevelopment of the village in 2015, motivated the residents to become more involved in the village, for the youth to return in the summer and open their homes. But it also boosted tourism by establishing the area as a point of attraction for visitors throughout the year.