Patsos (Agios Antonios) Gorge
The beautiful gorge of Patsos with its lush vegetation is also known as the gorge of Agios Antonios due to the cavernous temple of Agios Antonios (Saint Anthony), found in the gorge. It is located at an altitude of 490 meters in the green valley of Amari, about 3 kilometers from the village of Patsos and 8 kilometers southwest of the Arkadi Monastery. The water flowing through the river empties into the Potami dam where a variety of ecosystems is hosted. In the gorge there is also a bird observatory. Patsos gorge is a small botanical garden as it hosts 80 species of flora and 24 species of fauna.
The dense forest of plane trees and carob trees combined with the river crossing the gorge, compose a landscape of incredible natural beauty. At a short distance from the entrance, there is the cave-chapel of Agios Antonios. There is a spring there with cold fresh water and lots of shade. Outside the church you can see crutches that people have left behind after being cured by a miracle. In the rock cavities around the small chapel, you can see thousands of prayer papers that faithful have left.
Under the church, there are terraces with benches to sit, rest, relax and enjoy the environment, as well as areas for picnics with wooden tables and an impromptu barbecue close to an old fountain beside the stream of the river. Nearby is the Cave of Kranaios Ermis, a cave that was dedicated to the worship of Hermes, as evidenced by the dedicatory inscription “Ερμή Κραναίω, Δώρος Στεφάνω ευχήν” (to Hermes god of springs, I pray by placing this wreath as a gift). The area has been excavated and the findings are kept in the Museum of Oxford.
Crossing the gorge takes about two hours, it is relatively easy up to one point and can be performed almost throughout the year. The well designated and indicated path that has been formed ends at the narrowest point of the gorge. From there the gorge gets narrow and forms several small waterfalls and the descent to the lake of Potami requires considerable attention, especially in winter and spring. Springtime is the best time of the year to hike the gorge, so you can admire the beautiful flowers and plants that grow there. At this time of the year there might be quite a bit of water flowing through the river, which means you will have to walk in it. In autumn and in summer the amount of water has gone down.
Patsos Gorge is a must explore one when hiking in Crete as it is considered one of the top ten gorges to hike on the island. It is a good choice for nature lovers as well as for families to spend a beautiful day in nature. You can combine your visit to Patsos gorge with a visit to the beautiful valley of Amari.
- Make sure to cross the gorge in good weather as it may become dangerous with rain.
- Cross it it during day time. Sunlight is reduced fast due to high gorge walls and plantation.
- Wear proper hiking shoes
- Don't forget to have enough water with you