Archaeological walk in Crete Greece: Hiking the gorge of Mesonas, Crete: An archaeological walk along old villages like Vrontas, Azoria or Kastro. This walk shows everyone something beautiful; whether you like the history of Crete or the nature, this adventurous hike has it all. The hike is between 10 and 14 kilometres. At the end of the day you can even go swimming at the beach of Tholos.
Archaeological walk in Crete – Mesonas gorge
Archaeological walk in Crete Greece: During this hiking day you will get a lot of impressions of the beautiful nature and the archaeology of Crete. Already the old path (the kalerimi) you are walking on, is more than worth it. With this archaeological hike through nature you see different trees, plants and birds with all the time stunning views over the gulf of Mirabello between Agios Nikolaos and Mochlos. The walk starts in the village Kavousi and Avgos.
Information about the walk in Kavousi: This challenging gorge hike has a height difference of 626 meter. We start our walk in the village Kavousi at a height of 84 meters and continue our climb on a donkey path to an altitude of 710 meters. The total length of this walking roundtrip is 10 or 14 kilometres. The walk is approximately 5 to 7 hours. The walking paths are good, but the trail is poorly marked. It is not recommended to search for this path on your own! Along the way you see at several spots archaeological findings (Azoria and Kastro Minoan). In the gorge of Mesonas we hike through impressive nature surrounded by mountains, different kind of trees, plants and birds.
Almost the entire day you have a fantastic view over the gulf of Mirabello. During the hot summer months it is often to warm to walk this gorge, but the rest of the year is fine to walk this gorge. Only during or after heavy rain you can’t go down the gorge of Mesonas. The gorge is then only reachable with climbing gear. We walk above and along the gorge. Along the way we also see a lot of fences for the sheep.
What to take with you on this walk: Sturdy walking shoes with a good profile. Water to drink along your way, but you can also find water in the Mesonas gorge. Backpack with lunch, but you can also have lunch when you are back in the village Kavoussi.
The start of the walk: We walk upwards from the village. In the village Kavousi are many old narrow streets with beautiful old stone houses to photograph. This village is also our final destination and definitely worth walking through. It is easy to get lost if you don’t know where the old kalderimi trail is. A kalderimi is an old connecting road from village to village. After the village the trail goes via the kalderimi gradually but steeply upwards. Along the way grow many wild plants like faskomilo (wild sage), spurge, thyme and astifida (Saracopoterium, Spinosum). You see also beautiful ruins from an old cottage. Then the trail goes steeply uphill along the mountain with views over the sea and the gulf of Mirabello. The sea is far away, but the view over the little islands is magnificent.
Vultures: Above us circulate large groups of vultures. These vultures have a wingspan of almost 2,5 meters. With the right lens these vultures are wonderful to photograph. A little bit higher you come across handmade walls with stones from the area, to make the trail more accessible. There are also so-called pezoulas, which are in ancient times shaped stone plateaus. These pezoulas were made as an artificial plateau for agriculture. Now we reach an altitude of 650 meters and you will have the best view imaginable! From this spot there are two different trails, but we walk first to the viewpoint of Kastro.
Archaeological walk in Crete – Kastro
Archaeological walk in Crete: From Kastro you have a view over the Mirabello bay and you see the islands Psira, Dragonada and Gianysada and on your left also Agios Nikolaos. Kastro used to be a village with 13 houses built between 1.200-680 BC. Here you see the remains of the ancient Minoan era. When you look around here, you really understand why the Minoans lived here. The highest point is 710 meters. We walk back in the direction of the gorge of Mesonas. This trail, with its beautiful view, is difficult to find. We have to walk along a lot of fences that keep the sheep together and descend to the riverbed of the gorge. First we walk quite a bit downwards to continue further on upwards. At the top we have stunning views over the gorge of Mesonas.
The gorge of Mesonas: We now walk along the ancient water system that lies above the gorge. The gorge is here approximately 4 kilometres long, nice steep rocks with a few months a year beautiful waterfalls. You also see plenty of carved stone water basins. After a while, the gorge of Mesonas becomes narrower. Here the trail is steeply going downhill, we follow the stream until we are down in the gorge. On the left is an impressive rock formation and a carved waterfall. On your right you see a beautiful water basin. This is a great spot for mountaineers to go abseiling and climbing. After a few metres, we walk further upwards to the other side of the gorge. In front of you is a magnificent view over the gorge.
We follow the stream until we are down in the gorge. These old water pipes are constructed by hand in ancient times, just imagine how much work that was! Also the old walking trail must have been an enormous work to build. After 3 kilometres you see the archaeological village Azoria, we continue walking downhill.
Azoria round walk: Azoria is built on a hill. Azoria dates from approximately 1.200 BC. It was a Greek agricultural village. If you walk on the hill of Azoria, you can really get a good impression how the people used to live more than 3.000 years ago. The view is again breathtaking. Archaeological walk in Crete.
Archaeological walk in Crete – The oldest olive tree in Crete
Azoria to Kavousi walk: After our visit to Azoria the trail leads us to Kavousi. This trail is also poorly marked. We arrive at a beautiful little church from the Virgin Protoseptemvriani (Πρωτοσεπτεμβριανη), built between 1.400 and 1.600 AD. After the church, the trail continues to the oldest olive tree on Crete. This tree could be the oldest tree on Crete, it is always difficult to say, but it for sure is a very impressive tree. The monumental olive tree of Kavousi has a circumference of 22 metres. This tree is approximately 3.300 years old! In winter there are still olives in the tree. The tree is planted by locals from Vrontas, Azoria or Kastro. Imagine how many people have used olive oil from the olives of this tree, what a piece of history!
From the olive tree of Kavousi walking back to the village: At the olive tree we walk back to Kavousi where we started our walking roundtrip. There are again several trails to walk back to Kavousi, but we continue to walk the ancient trail via the old kalderimi. Arriving in the village we can extend our walk with a village walk of approximately 4 kilometres, so our total walk will be 14 kilometres. The village is very nice to walk through, time stood still in the streets of Kavousi. You can also take a refreshing dive in the sea at Tholos beach. The beach of Tholos is just outside the village of Kavousi. It is wonderful to go to the beach after the walk or to drink a delicious frappe or Greek coffee in the local kafenion.
Archaeological walk in Crete – Kalderimi or donkey trail on Crete
Meaning of words: Sometimes we use words you might not know. We give you an explanation below.
Kalderimi on Crete: A connecting road which can be between 100 en 3.000+ years old. This used to be the only connecting roads between the villages, before asphalt roads and cars. The Minoans walked via these kalderimis to their villages. The kalderimis were actually the ancient road network of Crete, a donkey trail paved with stones used by the locals to walk from village to village or by peddlers with merchandise. You can still find lots of kaldirimis if you look carefully.
Books about kalderimis on Crete: There is not a lot of information to find about walking the kalderimis. For years we have been busy to find as kalderimis for our GPS and road maps. One day we will write a book about all walks via these kalderimis on Crete. The kalderimis are the source of all our unique walks through the beautiful nature of unspoilt Crete. Who doesn´t like to be guided over the paths of the ancient Greek gods….We also thoroughly examine the geology and history of all the trails.
Faskomilo on Crete: Wild sage grows everywhere on the island of Crete. In spring sage has purple flowers. Everywhere on the island you can smell sage. Along the way you can make a cup of tea with sage!
Astifida on Crete: Astifida (Saracopoterium, Spinosum) is also a plant that really belongs in the Cretan landscape. It is a spiky plant that was used a lot to light the fire in the old stone houses. Astifida is still used at the Raki distillery in the autumn on Crete. The plant is put at the bottom of the Raki kettle, so nothing gets burned.
Kafenion on Crete: A coffeehouse or cafe where the locals drink their coffee. The kafenion is open all day and always worth a visit.
Mesonas gorge on Crete walking and hiking: This gorge is situated in the eastern part of Crete with often gorgeous views over the Bay of Mirabello. Large parts of the hike are on a kalderimi, the ancient connection roads or actually the donkey trails on Crete. It is quite a tough hike that starts at the village of Kavousi and passes along the archaeological settlements Vrontas, Azoria and Kastro. When history interests you, this is for sure a great area to visit. But also for the nature lovers there is a lot to enjoy with the various trees, plants and herbs that grow here.
Archaeological walk in Crete – More information about walking on Crete
Walking information about walking round trips on Crete: A guide accompanies our walk and will give you lots of information about the history of Crete, nature, flora and fauna and culture. You enjoy a meal in nature or at local Cretan taverns. The walkers determine the speed of the walk, so you are not depended on bus or boat times. We advise you to wear good walking shoes and socks to avoid blisters etc. It is also important to bring sunscreen, a hat, water and a snack along the way.
Hiking and walking options on Crete: Walking holidays on Crete are suitable for everybody: experienced hikers, inexperienced hikers, family walks, aged 50+ and 65+ walking holidays, travelling alone to Crete, single hiking vacations and group walking tours. All year round we organise hikes on Crete. Archaeological walk in Crete Greece.
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Archaeological walk in Crete