The island of Crete has a majestic, wild mountainous side that will definitely enchant you. Not only in summer, but also in winter, there are several options for excursions in the traditional villages of Crete and the beautiful Cretan nature.
If you are looking for unique Cretan scenery that will reveal you the authentic nature of the island, just head south of Rethymnon and visit the beautiful Patsos Gorge and end up to Spili village.
Starting your route, you pass Armeni village, keep going south, and reach the picturesque Myxorouma village, with its beautiful traditional houses, full of flowers. Twenty six kilometers after Myxorouma, you follow the sign to Karines, pass the village of Lampini and you will see the sign leading to Patsos Gorge or the Gorge of Agios Antonios (St. Anthony).
As the road climbs, get the chance to admire the spectacular view of the region of Agios Vasilios (St. Basil) of South Rethymnon.
The snowy landscape offers an excellent opportunity for a stop during your route. Get out of the car, breathe the fresh air, and why not make a small snowman and place it on your windscreen. It will accompany you till you reach your first destination, Patsos Gorge!
As soon as you enter Patsos village, after seven kilometers, you will meet a sign announcing the Gorge of St. Anthony and the Ruins of St. Anthony.
Park your car on a plateau under the shade of the oaks. A massive wooden gate leads you to an uphill path, protected by a wooden fence. A romantic scene is set up in front of your eyes: an open slope full of exquisite leafy plane trees leading to the gurgling waters of a stream.
Recently, the locals put terraces with benches in order for all the visitors to enjoy the panoramic view! In the picnic areas, there are wooden tables and an offhand barbecue close to an old fountain beside the stream. Higher, dug in the cliff, lays a huge cave that hosts the chapel of St. Anthony and next to it, on a rocky projection, there is an altar of pagan sanctuary. Ceremonies, connected with the Minoan cult of nature, took place at this natural altar, thousands years ago.
As the path descends, you will find large terraces made of tree trunks, making your descent much easier. Throughout the area of the gorge, there are easy routes for walking, for those who want to enjoy the route without much fatigue. Those who want to live the intense excitement of nature, can follow the steep, descending path, with sharp turns which ends deep, in the lowest level of the gorge.
As soon as you admire the greatness of nature in the lush green Patsos gorge, Spili is waiting for you! Do not be affected by the image of the village from the main road! This village, with its gurgling springs, is much more beautiful than it seems at first sight! Stroll its alleys, take photos in front of the old stone mansions, which are inhabited even in our days and visit the family home of Thanasis Skordalos, one of the greatest teachers of the Cretan lyre and Cretan music.
In the beautiful square of Spili, you will see the main attraction of the village: a row of 25 fountains in the form of a lion head. 330 cubic meters of water flow from their “mouth” every hour. This water is rich in iron, has a constant temperature of 13 ° C and comes from the thirty-nine springs existing around, which are believed to originate from Psiloritis. In the square, there are taverns offering genuine Cretan cuisine, quaint cafes and shops of folk art.
On the way back, before you reach Rethymnon, you can make a stop in Armeni village to have an evening coffee at one of its traditional cafes!
«If you are looking to extend your trip, you can book you own private Cretan Villa near Rethymnon and experience Crete like a local! Cretico, a group of local travel experts, offer a big variety of luxury and traditional villas with private pool in all regions of Crete. You can also follow Cretico on Facebook or Twitter.»
This great story is part of the series Tales from Greece, where travelers share their experiences from their holidays to Greece.