Discover and experience the beautiful and enchanting Amari valley.
This is a "colourful" and unique cultural trail through one of the most amazing parts of Crete in order to discover :
- Gorgeous Byzantine monasteries and churches with their stunning wall frescoes
- Archaeological sites
- Small traditional villages
- The Patsos gorge and the historic cave-church of St. Anthony
The Amari valley, or ‘Lotus Land’, which is full of small picturesque villages, old Byzantine churches, Hellenistic and Roman settlements and unique nature with some impressive and wild mountains. It was given the name ‘Lotus Land’ by the English soldiers, such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, who helped to kidnap the German General Kreipe during WWII. They found the valley so beautiful and enchanting after spending a long time in the mountains, that they thought of it as paradise.
We will start our tour visiting the historic Arkadi Monastery, which has been a continuous and inseparable part of the Cretan history during the last eight centuries. And in particular it is famous for its part in the uprisings against the Turks, especially in 1866 when the Cretans blew themselves up rather than be captured.
Next we will drive to the villages of Thronos and Meronas, where there are the lovely 11th century churches of the Virgin Mary and the Panagia respectively. They both have rare wall frescoes that we can admire. In addition, at Thronos we walk to the top of Kefala hill and discover ancient Syvrita which was one of the most important cities of west Crete. Thronos is the site of one of the many ancient Cretan cities that were built by the Dorians, or perhaps the Myceneans, no-one is sure. Wandering around the village you see architecture that is almost timeless.
Before our traditional lunch we will visit the archaeological site of Monastiraki where there is a middle Minoan palace site. It is situated on a small hill in the valley and has a commanding all round view.
After an excellent lunch there is a chance to finish the day by walking in Patsos gorge and seeing the cave chapel of St. Anthony. A lot of crutches are left in front of the church, as this is still a place where miracles happen, since people come to this church carrying their crutches and leave them after they have prayed. In front of the church, icons are also hung as offerings and for you to pray to St. Anthony for help. For a long time this has been a place of worship, as the sacred nature of the site goes back in time to the Minoan period. Such sanctuaries were very common in rural sites, especially in pre-Christian Crete. Quite a few finds are now in the Ashmoleum museum in Oxford and the Archaeological museum in Heraklio. The ancient cult was alive for at least two and a half thousand years, from the Minoan period to the Roman occupation (2000 B.C. – 400 A.D.). A votive inscription of the first century B.C. found in 1888 indicates the worship of ‘Hermes Kranaeus’. The Hermes cult was widespread in Crete and during the Roman occupation the cult of Pan is certified by the discovery of a marble statue of the god himself. The shape of the rock formations, the lush vegetation and the stream all add to the special atmosphere that can be found here.
135.00 Euros per person
Total duration : 7 hours
Ascent / descent
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