The village of Roussospiti is situated 300m above sea level above the town of Rethymnon.
The origins of the village are supposed to date back to the Venetian times (around 14th century). Whilst excavations were being made in the old church “Isodia tis Theodokou”, coins were found, which date back to the year 1000.
There are two stories about the name Roussospiti. The word “spiti” means house. The first story says, that the first house in the village, built by the Venetians, was a red (Italian rosso) house. The second version refers to a Russian (Rousso) lady, who was ill. She came to Crete because of the healthy climate and built a house, which can still be seen to this day.
From about 1500 the Venetian power was replaced by the Turks. Around 1600 the village is supposed to have had 30 houses and a Turkish ruler, who had 300 slaves working for him. At this time a lot of Greek surnames were created having –akis on the end, which you still find today. This is a grammatical diminutive and the Turks forced the people to put it at the end of their names. The idea being to keep the Cretans psychologically “little” (for example Mylonas=Miller, Mylonakis=little Miller). Surnames on Crete without the ending –akis belong very often to families who left Crete during the Turkish occupation, mostly to Asia Minor.
The Unknown Soldier
During the Second World War German parachutists landed on Crete and occupied the island. Here it must be said,that the resistance of the Cretan freedom fighters was never totally broken. The occupying forces also took position on the “Vrissinas” mountain, which is 400m above the village.The soldiers slept in the chapel “Agios Pnevmatos” (Holy Ghost) and surrounded the place with a minefield.The villagers sometimes hid in the “Lygeris”-cave,which you can visit today. At this time the village had about 350 inhabitants. In 1963 this number shrank to around 100 because many Greeks went abroad as foreign workers. In 1971 the village grew to 270 and today it is estimated to have 700 inhabitants.
Cretan Hero