Another beautiful day in Crete and we decided to hike to Katholiko Monastery and then on to the sea. Also known as, Moni Katholiko, it is considered the oldest monastery in Crete, dating back to the 11th century. Founded by St John the Hermit, this monastery is built into the Avlaki Gorge on the North shore of Cape Akrotiri in Northwest Crete. The monastery was abandoned in the 17th century due to pirate raids.
Directions to Katholiko Monastery
The monastery is about 35 minutes from Chania. We started out from our resort and took the National Highway East past Chania towards Pithari. That is where we totally lost GPS. Luckily, I had a map and we turned North at Anemomili and kept heading North. Basically, follow the signs towards Gouverneto Monastery. This is where you will park and then find the trail to Katholiko Monastery. The roads were good but narrow. We had no major problem finding the monastery entrance and there is a small fee per person. The drive was pretty and we enjoyed driving through the quaint little villages.
Most days you can visit the Gouverneto Monastery which is a functional, operating monastery. It was Tuesday though, and we have found out many spots of interest are closed in Greece on Tuesdays. I do not know why. Any one else know? You need to walk past the Gouverneto Monastery to get to the trailhead, it was impressive.
Trailhead to Katholiko Monastery
You can’t miss the path to Katholiko Monastery because it is right through the gate at the end of the side walk at Gouverneto Monastery. The view is spectacular, you can see the Aegean Sea from the trailhead so anticipation is high!
The Trail to the Monastery
The Trail to the Monastery again has a lot of steps. The trail has a gravel path at times and also a cobblestone path at times. I felt it was a good, well maintained trail. The views are gorgeous
Cave of the Bear
The Cave of the Bear has a large rock in the center of it that resembles a bear, thence the name. You can’t miss the entrance as it is along the path.
The Monastery is spectacular. The ruins give a glimpse as to how impressive this must have been. The monks that lived there at the time lived in small rooms or even in the caves all around the gorge. Incidentally, during the WWII Nazi invasion many Crete locals inhabitants who fought in the Battle of Crete hid in the monastery and it’s surrounding caves.
Hike to the Sea
We decided we would go ahead and hike to the sea. The hike starts under the large stone bridge. There are 2 paths down the steep hill, both are tough and take careful footing. I used the 3 point method where I kept 3 points of contact at all times, meaning if I moved a leg, my other leg and two hands held on firmly. In addition, I did not move another limb until I was firmly footed. It did not take long, just caution.
The path to the sea was a loose rocky path through the gorge. Not treacherous, but again, good and careful footing required. I would definitely not wear flip flops and it would probably be a rough trek for someone who had bad knees or hips. It also was hot!
Once at the sea, the views were spectacular! We did see an ancient boat dock which was pretty cool! We did not find any place that looked like a beach. The area was all sharp, volcanic type rocks. We were told that swimming was forbidden as of 2 months prior to our arrival. Not sure where people swam at in the past as I didn’t see any place that looked swim friendly.
We hung out and explored the cliff above the sea enjoying the views and then followed the same trail back up. I found it to be easier from a walking stand point to hike up. It was a good cardio work out though, and we weren’t the only ones huffing and puffing on our way up! It took us a little over an hour to get to the top from the sea.
I absolutely loved everything about this hike. The views, history, monastery, cave, and sea are all things I love about Crete nestled in to one hike.
While planning our trip to Greece, I found the travel guide Top 10 Crete to be very useful. It lists the top 10 of places to go, restaurants, and sites. Then it also lists the top 10 by region and area. I felt it was a great planning tool, plus it came with a pocket size map.
I also bought a National Geographic Map of Crete and this was priceless as we lost our GPS several times. The map is pretty accurate and durable. It really did help us out!
Where We Stayed in Chania, Crete
While in Chania we stayed at the Domes Noruz, a beautiful seaside resort with wonderful amenities. Our room, which overlooked the pool, was comfortable and spacious with a plunge pool and soaking tub. The staff was welcoming. I will write more in a future post on where we stayed and ate during this trip. In the meantime, if you want you can click here for more information on Domes Noruz in Chania.
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