Looking for a stadium in Creta (Greece) for groundhopping purpose, can be a very exciting leisure if you are not using a GPS (sat nav). I have tried it with the home stadium of Platanias FC in Chania – or Xania – in the North-western part of the island. But the try is definitely worth if you are not a fan of starchitecture, tradium or international stadia manufactured ambiance.
Not being an expert of Greek Superleague, it will be difficult to realize that Chania has, in fact, a team playing in top division since it is named Platanias FC1. The Chania’s club is named from the place it comes from: an awfully touristic small town on the Cretan Sea. Platanias is a deme, a local community different from the one of Chania, located 10 km (6,2 miles) eastward. But Platanias FC is not playing there anymore, rather in Perivolia which is a village in Mournies… a regional unit of Chania’s municipality.
Do not make any mistake with another Mournies in Creta ; a village nearby Ierapetra, same island, but on the south-eastern part, facing the Libyan Sea. If you are there looking for the stadium right in time for kick-off, you will be disappointed… Perivolia is also a location nearby Réthymnon, the third largest city in Creta, one hour ago by car from our Perivolia. Different mistake… same punishment: no game in time!
Once you know, for sure, that Platanias FC’s ground, Perivolia Municipal Stadium, is to be found nearby Chania, somewhere over the national road, toward the South, you are almost there. Do not be ashamed to get lost again, you are not the only one. The roads leading to the place are tricky and you do not expect a stadium in such a rural area. Many other people got lost before you, many Greeks fans amongst them. A small stadium nearby is covered by spray paints of Attica fans that probably made a mistake and spoiled some precious spray cans.
Once you are there, you start to wonder why a town planning authority has decided that such a small lot of land, surrounded by fields, would be an ideal location for a national sport ground. It is just a tiny building plot in the countryside, surrounded by a small road leading to the industruous suburbs of Chania, a weird « fairy land », a 5×5 soccer, some citrus fields with its characteristic red-orange soil, and some olive trees.
But was it planned? Never mind. In 1959, some persons decided that the land was available and they built a national stadium. The stadium was later « given » to the municipal authority of Chania and renovated in 2012 (consequence of the economical crisis or promotion of Platanias FC to top division?).
The stadium is located 4 km South of Chania, nearby the national road, completely outside the city. You access it either by a suburban road (Eleftherias) or by small countryside roads. The only sign of an urban life is the bus stop and its two typically Greek small chapels.
Do not except to be guided by the floodlights or a name over the roof advertising a beer or insurance company: there is no name on the stadium. Not even « Perivolia municipal stadium » on the main stand. There is no car park below or nearby the stadium, and even more, no open space around it. How could people park there? You cannot walk all around the stadium because of citrus and olive fields. Only two faces are directly accessible from the public realm. The temporary stand built on the East are well above the old fencing wall and you can enjoy the smell and vision of the citrus on the half time. You can almost pick a fruit.
The stadium is painted in blue and white, not red and white, colors of Platanias FC. Are those colors a remaining of the national ownership? Is dedicated to Uruguay or Argentina? Maybe Manchester City or Maracanã?
The outside walls seems to be regularly bleached by the municipality to cover the away fans signatures. The stadium is surrounded a by a small wall (2 m. or 6,56 ft high) directly on the road. It is surelevated by a fence made or iron grid used for the building industry, a typical way of fencing field and house in Creta.
The stadium is nevertheless beautiful under the Summer sky, when empty. The ambiance is absolutely peaceful. The stunning landscape of laurels, olive and citrus trees with the mountains in the distance (Lefki Ora, the white mountains) and the smell of eucalyptus trees contribute to the success of the location. At the end, we can have only one regret: Platanias was playing away in AEK Athens this very week…
- The club is currently competing in the Superleague for the first time in its history, after winning the promotion play-offs of 2011–12. It is even the only cretan club playing at that level, OFI and Ergotelis, the far better known clubs of Heraklion, being in the second division [↩]