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Within a wild and magnificent gorge named Avlaki, lies hidden the Monastery of St. John the Hermit or Xenos, which is considered to be the oldest monastery of Crete, dating back to the 6th or 7th century and better known as ‘Catholicon’.

The Catholicon (main church) of the monastery is carved into the rock, while according to the legend, St. John lived in a nearby cave as a hermit.

There is a bridge spanning the gorge, which connects the church with the slope on the other side and functions as the cloisters. On the slope across the gorge there are sketes (monastic communities), where it is believed anchorites lived in early Christian years.

The Catholicon was deserted when most monks passed away; those left, according to the most convincing view, left and built the monastery of the Lady of the Angels (Kyria ton Angelon).

If you follow the path for another 10 minutes, you will reach the sea, in a tiny but deep bay with turquoise waters that might once have been used as a small port and has its own legend: Pirates landed on this point and climbed the path to attack the Monastery Catholic. Their monks perceived and the Abbot cursed the unbelievers pirates, whose ship turned them into stone and could never leave Crete to return to their homeland.
If you reach the beach, do not forget to look for the ship-shaped rock!


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