This cycling route starts from Avgeniki village and we ride towards Venerato and then to Palianis Monastery. The monastery is for women, one of the oldest in Crete and there is a great Celebration on August 15. At the monestery we were impressed by the worship of the Sacred Myrtle (the celebration is on 24 September). The locals believe that an icon of Virgin Mary Myrtidiotissa is enclosed in the Trunk of the tree and only children can see it. This is a relic of the Minoan religion.
We follow the dirt road behind the monastery and descend to the Church of Aghios Fanourios at the exit of the homonym Gorge. Through the canyon flows Apollo river. From here we continue eastwards following the cement road through a beautiful valley and we reach Sinapi village.
From Sinapi we ascend to Aghios Thomas. After passing the first uphill section through the olive groves we reach an impressive rocky area, the locals call it Plakoures. A little further the landscape is full of Oak trees and we pass through some peddocks, in some of these there are dogs which always bark when cyclist pass. Before Aghios Thomas we will pass through Adrachtia village. In the past it had been abandoned because of landslides, today some houses have been restored.
And we arrive at Agios Thomas village, one of the most traditional - beautiful Cretan villages with a history that goes back to prehistoric ages. The village is situated in a stunning location full of huge rocks and panoramic views. On the rocks have been carved since the prehistoric ages small chambers-rooms some of which have been converted to churches, such as Panagia Kera at the village entrance. Another distinctive feature of the village, unique in Crete, is the great number of churches. There are 38 Byzantine stone churches in and around the village.
From Agios Thomas we follow the dirt road that connects the village with Aghia Varvara and passes through Pirouniana. At Axenti area there is a church which was in the past Monastery. From here we follow the trail and descend to Aghios Georgios Hostos. The path is slipery and it is recomended to push the bike for a few meters. Alternatively we can go to Pirouniana village, where there is a fountain with fresh water and then descend to Aghios Georgios. Next to the church there is an old water mill and after the creek a small waterfall.
We returns back to Agios Thomas and before the village we head to Kardiotissa Monastery of Virgin Mary. The location with the large oaks, the old watermill and the waterfall is fantastic. Then we ascend to the Agrikies hotel and continue to move in order to pass the mountain heading west. At the highest point of the route we go southwards and climb the hill with the white chapel. Here are the ruins of the Venetian fortress Melissa with panoramic views.
At the end we follow the main dirt road and we return back to Avgeniki village.