One of the most enchanting regions in south Heraklion is the Asterousia Mountains: caves, ravines, wild goats and eagles, villages, monasteries and much more...
The Asterousia mountain range, named after Asterion, an ancient king of the same region who, according to legend, married Europe at the behest of Zeus, and at a length of about twenty kilometers, unfolds like a natural barrier between the plain of Messara and the Libyan Sea. In a rugged landscape that is challenging to navigate, massive spires of rock pull the eye with their wild form and eerie beauty.
Kofinas, at a height of 1231 metres, is the highest peak, followed by Madara, Housakas, Volakas, and Sfendylia, respectively. Here, the region's unique morphology has created smooth and inaccessible peaks with steep slopes that plummet into the sea, waterfalls that spill into ravines and impressive gorges such as Agiofarago and Tripiti, most of which end at extremely exotic beaches on the Libyan Sea.
Here, flocks of goats survive under the watchful eye of seasoned shepherds dressed in traditional costume. The region is home to large birds of prey: vultures and rare golden eagles, as well as small mammals, twenty-two endemic species of plants and nine species of Cretan snails. Consequently, the Asterousia Mountains attract many outdoor enthusiasts, especially rock climbers (there are climbing routes in Kapetaniana and Agiofarago) who want to feel the magic of 'flying' where eagles dare!
The Asterousia Mountains, from antiquity to today, have always been inhabited. Roads that weave through evocative mountain passes lead to wonderful villages: Ethia, Paranymfoi and Kapetaniana, and to other destinations with breathtaking views. In addition to the enchanting nature, the Asterousia Mountains are a stronghold for ascetics and one of the most important centres for Orthodoxy, filled with historic monasteries such as Odigitria, Koudouma, Apezanon, Trion Ierarchon and Agiou Nikita Asterousion.
Info: Kapetaniana village is a natural ‘balcony’ with endless views of the Libyan Sea and the peak of Kofinas. Walk in its picturesque alleys, visit the church of Panagia and taste unique Cretan products from the land.