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Koudoumas Monastery
Category: Monastery
Prefecture: Heraclion
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Koudoumas Monastery




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Koudoumas Forest 2424 hits
Mount Kofinas, the highest summit (1231 m) of the Asterousia Mountains, is a bare, rugged mountain.  On its southern slopes there are woods with Pinus brutia and small patches of Cupressus sempervirens. The dominant vegetation type is phrygana and there are many areas affected by regular overgrazing by sheep and goats. There are also intermittent streams running down to the sea. 

The importance of this site consists in Mount Kofinas providing nesting places for big birds of prey, such as gyps fulvus (the griffon vulture) and, notably of the very rare Gypaetus barbatus. Other interesting birds of prey are present in the site. The area hosts endemic and protected plant species and interesting endemic snails. The existence of a well conserved pinewood and of the Cupressus sempervirens patches is also important.

The whole site is of archaeological importance, with very interesting caves with prehistoric remnants, archaeological relics and temples, Byzantine monasteries etc. Due to its morphology; the whole area of Asterousia mountains is a Natural Beauty Landscape.

The site includes the eastern range of the massif of Asterousia Ori on southern Crete. The marine area covers less than 1% of the site and includes the sandy beach where careta careta, sea turtle, lays its eggs. The coastline is rocky and intended with bays and small capes and numerous caves. Notably, there is a small thicket of Phoenix theophrastii at Agios Nikitas cove (near Achendrias).The marine habitats, posidonia beds and reefs are in excellent condition and monk seals live in the marine caves.

Moni (monastery) Koudouma is a unique opportunity to visit this secluded and virgin area of south Crete. You can do that either from Kapetaniana or from Sternes village. From Kapetaniana you may walk (or drive if you have a genuine 4x4 car) down to Agios Ioannis coastal village (2 hrs). When you get to the village, ask them to show you the way to Agios Ioannis church; it is a church built inside a cave and there are some spectacular wall-paintings

From the village you may follow the path to Koudoumas Monastery (1hr 30 min). Thirty minutes before the monastery there is the cave of Agios Antonios with a church built inside; a torch-light will be useful.

From Koudoumas you may either return the same way or walk up the road (it is the road coming from Sternes) to Mt Kofinas and Kapetaniana (about 4 -5 hrs). This road is much better than the road from Kapetaniana to Agios Ioannis but still in need for a proper vehicle. It is a really scenic route as the road is steeply descending from 1000 m to sea-level, through woods of pine trees.

Another approach to Moni Koudouma is driving from Kapetaniana to Mt Kofinas and then turn the first turn right. If you go this way then you may reach Agios Ioannis by feet. Another great place is Psili Ammos; it is described in the naturism section of the site.