The people of Crete are deeply religious and build churches to express their gratitude to God or to fulfil a "tama", a promise given to God in exchange for a request. All the churches of Katharo are family owned.
The churches of Katharo are built following a simple traditional style, mainly of stone and consisting of a single room with a semicircle structure at the altar end and separated by two wooden or marble partitions, joined by a curtain which divides it into a nave and altar section. The roofs are concrete and curved. Icons often depicting the churches named saint adorn the partitions and walls. The altar is often made of stone or concrete. The furnishings are simple, a small wooden table often quite elaborate for the altar, if not concrete, a table containing candles and a donations tray, a sand tray for standing the candles in, and sometimes a lectern.
There are eight churches on Katharo, of these eight churches six have a bell made from the nose-cone of a German bomb. (Indicated with an *)
The churches of Panayia (Virgin Mary) Koprakiani and Timios Stavros have two bells each, the right hand bells are made from a bomb nose-cone.
The oldest church, the church of Afendis Christos was built in 1648. The date and name of the builder are inscribed in the stone lintel above the door. Note the damage to the stone window at the altar end, this is reputed to have been inflicted by a Turkish bullet.
There are about eight threshing circles upon the Katharo plain dating back perhaps several hundred years. The average circle is about 5 mtrs across and usually constructed of naturally flattened rocks sunken into the ground in an upright position. Surrounding rock formations may also be utilized into their construction. Although clearly no longer in use they provide evidence that the growing and harvesting of wheat crops was performed on Katharo.
An article on threshing circles by Cora Greenhill can be found at www.thirteenthmoon.co.uk
It is usually assumed, that a shrine is built to act as a remembrance for a traffic accident victim. This is true in some cases, but they are often built by a survivor of a potentially tragic accident, or to publicly thank a saint for a benefit, not to commemorate a tragedy. Sometimes they are built as an appeal to the saints for a good harvest, as is the case with the several shrines to be found on Katharo.
The Katharo plain has been farmed and occupied during the summer months for hundreds if not thousands of years. No buildings of great age have been discovered. The church of Afendis Christos build in 1648 is perhaps the oldest surviving structure, although the stone threshing circles and stone terracing may well pre-date this.
Katharo has six hamlets and according to the last census conducted about ten years ago has some 450 buildings. (A building in this case is described has a structure having a door!).
Most of the houses built on Katharo are of the traditional Cretan style, single storey square structures with a flat roof, but in recent years more adventurous two storey designs can be seen.
Unlike the Lassithi plain there has never been any windmills on Katharo, but there are many wells to be found, built in traditional style. A hole excavated down to the impervious rock, about three metres deep and one metre across and lined with stone finishing at ground level or just above and referred to as dipping wells. The water was accessed by means of a canter levered device, a long pole pivoted off centre on a forked branch and counterweighted at the short end, and a bucket at the other.
The Greek name for this device is “geranos” which means crane, whether it is named after the bird or vice versa is unclear, the flower “geranium” is named after the bird as in “storks-bill or cranes-bill” and relates to the seed
The two bells of