The monastery of Agarathos has taken its name from the plant “agarathia” in the Cretan dialect, or commonly known as the Jerusalem sage bush. The icon of Holy Mary that was found under the bush marks the location where the monastery currently stands. Only 24 km east of Heraklion, it is easily accessible for day visitors but also marks the start of the E4 trail towards the village of Kastelli. While we know it to be one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, the exact date it was founded is still unknown. The monastery operated as a school and spiritual centre for young monks and students that came to study manuscripts from the extensive library resources available.
A peaceful and serene spot for quiet introspection before you set off on your hike.
The E4 route from Agarathos Monastery to Kastelli
From Agarathou Monastery (1), we follow the dirt road which goes northwards; after approximately 100 m, we turn right onto a downhill dirt road which passes through a small slope north of the gardens of the monastery. On our left, up the hill, a small chapel can be seen. We continue on the unsurfaced road, hiking on slopes full of shrubs and low vegetation, and after about 1,8 km we come to an asphalt road (2). We go down this road for 1,5 km, until we emerge onto the main road, at a spot where there is an old farmhouse and a few cypress trees (3). The little village of Sampas can be seen on the slope, southwards, at a distance of approximately 150 m.
We turn left, following the main road in an easterly direction; after 1,3 km, we come upon a right-hand turn-off (4) that leads to Zofori village. We continue eastwards for 2 km, to the village of Apostoli (5). After another 4,5 km, we arrive at Kastelli (6). The route to Kastelli passes through several olive groves and vineyards; it is pleasant, offering open views to the nearby hills and Mount Dikti, eastwards, in the distance. From Apostoli, a road leading to Thrapsano, to the north, begins. Thrapsano is one of the oldest and most important pottery centres of Crete. We soon reach Kastelli.
|Path Length||10.5 km|
|Hiking Duration||3 hour|
|When to hike||Spring, Autumn, Summer, Winter|