When the thermometer shows no more than 25 degrees, a two-hour or so hike from the monastery of Gouverneto down to the abandoned rock monastery of Katholiko and back again, completely without shade, is one of the most beautiful experiences in western Crete.
The monastery portal is a clear indication that the buildings date from Venetian times. The façade of the rock church bears clear traits of the High Gothic and Renaissance. More impressive than the church is the building that spans the narrow gorge below the monastery terrace as a bridge.
24 steps before the monastery portal, on the left is the inconspicuous entrance to a 150 m long and up to 20 m high dripstone cave. On the left is an improvised altar, on the right a now empty tomb carved into the rock. The holy hermit Ioannis was once buried in it, who came here from Azogires on the south coast near Paleochora in the 10th century and whose reputation as a holy man attracted so many other hermits that the monastery was founded.
If you like, you can descend into the gorge at the bridge and walk on to the sea in about 20 minutes.
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