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Agios Nikolaos
Category: Monastery
Prefecture: Heraclion
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Agios Nikolaos

On the south entrance to the Agios Nikolaos (or Rouvas) gorge that bears the same name, one can find the Aghios Nikolaos monastery which used to be the 3rd most important of the Zaros area. Today, only the small temple of Aghios Nikolaos from the 14th century is preserved. The distance from Zaros Village is only 2 km.


Large parts of the murals from that era are also preserved. It is probable that it was a convent that was deserted after a natural disaster. On the eastern slope of the mountain, around 500 m from Agios Nikolaos one can find the small cave of Aghios Efthimios.In the Venetian years it was glebe of the Varsamonero monastery and was called Aghios Nikolaos in Karopouliana. The 1644 census indicates that it was a herding area.The glebe was preserved throughout the Ottoman period, while in the end of the 19th century a group of nuns settled in Agios Nikolaos. Many of the cells were renovated and the surrounding land, which was substantially large, started being cultivate.

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Hermitages of Agios Efthimios and of Agios Methodios 2612 hits
The frescoed cave temple of Agios Efthimios is situated on a high altitude, near the entrance of the gorge of Zaros, close and over the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos. The Italian architect Gerola, who photographed all the important monuments of Crete around the 1900s, recorded a 1438 inscription on the frescoes.

The temple was closely connected to the religious activity in the region during the 14th-15th century and to the Monstery of Varsamonero.  It might have been a chapel of the Monastery. In the older times, it was a hermitage.

Next to the cave-temple there are caves and cavities that also served as hermitages. The location has all the characteristics of a hermitage site: it is isolated, far away from inhabited areas and only a hard-to-access path leads there, which is also dangerous due to frequent earth and rock falls.