Agiofarango Print

Behind the monastery of Odigitria, the roads are not asphalted anymore. If you are ready to walk a little bit, you will discover in this area some highlights of Cretan nature and panoramas. All these walks are not particularly difficult, since there are no important differences in elevation. But it is important to know that, in summer, you neither find water nor much shade in this area. So please don't forget your bottles and a sun hat!

From Odigitria to the beginning of the gorge, it is first about 4 km of quite good, not asphalted road, which you can also go by car. Then there are signs announcing Agiofarango. From here, it takes about one and a half hour walk to get down the gorge and reach the sea. Agiofarango is really a gorgeous place: when the cliffs get higher and closer around you, you will soon walk in a forest of rose laurels, along with the goats. Agiofarango means "Holy Gorge"; it used to be a place where hermits were living in the caves (a maximum number of 300 was mentioned), and it is still considered to be a holy place. At the end of the path, you will find a nice rocky beach caught between high cliffs, and bathed by the pure waters of the Lybian Sea.

Just before reaching the beach, you will discover the old church of Agios Antonios, surrounded by rocks. This nice little church was once the religious centre of the area, where early Christian mass were hold. It's estimated that since the first basic set-up, which was only a small chapel in the rocks, it was expanded three times as more and more ascetics, monks and pilgrims came here. It's supposed that the last transept was built in the XIVth century.

There have been beautiful frescoes on the walls inside that unfortunately disappeared. A few metres south of the church, there are some relicts of a Minoan tholos thomb on an elevation, indicating early human presence in this area.

 

A troglodyte monk cell was discovered a few metres along the way after the church, on the right. 100m further on there's a cave sealed with an iron door today, and called "Goumenospilios". It has just a small low entry, but inside it is quite big, and there is light from a natural hole on the top of the cave. Legends say the hermits gathered once a year there, and everyone had his own stone to sit on. If one stone remained unoccupied, it meant that the hermit had died. Swallows don't migrate in Agiofarango – they just spend the winter there, due to the comfortable microclimate.

 

Agiofarango is also known as a popular climbing spot.