Religious monuments, monasteries, traditional architecture, traditional activities, local traditions take life before our eyes, within the natural landscape and the way of life of the area inhabitants. We take our course within the fragrance sage and the frickly broom with its beautiful yellow attire, which struggles to tread on the rest of the rarely frequented mules’ path, Limnes or Nithiako – Keramos – Aghios Antonios – Syrmeso – Dories – Karydi – Aretiou Monastery – Hondrovolaki – Skinias, settlements and villages, monasteries and agricultural properties.
There are more than 50 monasteries in the surrounding area. In many of them, there are monumental architectural clusters, which are well preserved even to date. Those are the old monastery properties of Apano Merabello that have evolved into villages. This place, the northeastern corner of Crete has its own geomorphology and its particular character.
Drystone constructions prevail, well discernible at the enclosures of the fields that protect the cultivations, at the stone-paved paths, at the dry cisterns, even at the threshing floors. Lime and ground tiles have reinforced the construction to hold the valuable rainwater. This place is stony and arid, yet of a particular beauty.
Life in the past was hard, dependent on the harvest of vineyards, almond trees, olive trees, cereals, pulse, as well as on apiculture and cheese-making. Olive-oil, milk, honey, are the valuable extracts of this place, seasoned with the saltiness of the Cretan sea and with the sweat of its people. Almond kernels, edible olives, oat meal and bread are born in this arid soil.
Those staple foods of unique nutritional value, either of animal, or of vegetable origin, are impregnated by the saltiness of the sea. Red-cheeked people of this land have lived on such incomes and survived harsh times. It is the same manly statures, the same kerchiefed women that we see in the icons of Byzantine churches, freshly painted and framed, moving through the golden fields.
It is said that life in this arid place is more intense, its beauty is more austere, yet more accessible, so that one can live pleasant moments and discover the lost happiness, even for a while. From Skinias, the sea lies very close (either the beach of Vlychadia, or Gialos), so it the fish-tavern. Do not miss the chance to enjoy it.
- Route Difficulty: Easy