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near Schísma Eloúndas, Crete (Greece)
Called the Peninsular of Spinalonga (Meaning "Long thorn") The locals call it "Kolikitha" to distinguish it from the fortress of Spinalonga.
The first part of the walk from the car park to the church of Agios Fokas is very easy over a well trodden pathway.
From the church back across the peninsular the path is not very well marked although the breaks in the wall indicate where to pass, there are red dots marking the way, but few and far between. until you intersect the donkey trail, where it leads all the way back to the start.
Park the car by the windmills and head north following the road beside the sea until you see the brown direction sign 200 meters further on
Turn right and head east across the peninsular on the road until you see the church and the flagpoles 1.15 kms ahead
Turn right by the church of St Luke and head down the rough rocky pathway keep on this well trodden pathway. Keep left at the first junction
Stopping to view the ruins of the original Fokas church 490 meters on
The Arab occupation of Crete was a thorn in Byzantium's side and they had tried and failed on numerous occasions to retake it without success.
In 961 the Byzantine General Nikephoros Fokas with the largest seaborne landing until D Day attacked Crete with some 300 ships and 50,000 men and horses.
Landing from Almyros bay to here on the Spinalonga beach of Kolokitha where the General himself landed and after fierce fighting after six months swept the Arabs off Crete.
In honour of his achievements and to mark their gratitude the Greeks built this temple to remember him.
However the positioning of the temple was flawed in that the prevailing south winds and sea the temple was constantly bombarded by the rough elements and although repaired and rebuilt many times they eventually left it and now over half of it is now submerged under the sea.
A newer church was erected further north with the same name, which has since been rebuilt over with the church that occupies it now
Photo Of Ruins.
After viewing return to the pathway and follow it to the newer church of Agios Fokas on the peninsular, an easy to spot white building in the distance 1.4 kms ahead
View from pathway out to sea
Stopped for water break.
From here return down the pathway and turn right going North by the circular area of bushes
approx 65 meters from the end of the church pathway
The signage is intermittent so keep an eye for the walls that have been broken down to allow access.
That is your pathway, heading mainly North, before veering slightly NW across to the other side of this part of the peninsular
Follow the stones and the dirt pathway
Continue on, looking for the occasional markers
A natural limestone formation that the local inhabitants used as a well.
The water came down the hill and was directed into a reservoir, now hidden by the undergrowth, into this natural well which was the inhabitants main water supply for domestic and agricultural usage.
However a catastrophic earthquake in 1856 of 7.7 magnitude destroyed everything and cracked the soft limestone wall.
The water could not be contained in the well causing the village to be without water.
With virtually all the houses destroyed and no means to repair the water supply the village was abandoned
Photo of well.
From here head north to pick up the pathway by a dead looking tree approx 100 meters
The pathway can be seen as a narrow dirt path and intersects to a wall running along in the same direction approx 230 meters to the threshing circle
Threshing circles like this are found all over Greece, they are always placed in an area which is open to high winds.
This circle is in excellent condition and as such you can visualise how they worked.
They have been used for thousands of years, in Crete right up to the 1960's
Threshing can be done by beating the grain using a flail, but since this was very laborious, most communities used either an oxen or more likely here in Crete a donkey.
A wooden sled with blades underneath was pulled by a donkey, with a young boy or woman sat on top of the sleigh to give more weight to crush and split the bran from the grain.
The women (normally) would then pitch the grain into the air where the strong winds would blow the light stalks way out of the circle and the grain would be blown to the higher stone inner circle stockpiling up to be gathered up at the end of the day .
A festival normally celebrated the finishing of the harvest, hence "Harvest festivals"
Good place to rest and eat with nice view
After eating back track a few meters and follow the path going up, it is marked with a red dot.
From here it is a gradual climb until you reach it's highest point some 108 meters above sea level
walk up to the shepherds house and pass to the right of it and stay on the trail
Pass another threshing circle and across another three walls approx 300 meters
once passed through this wall, you will be able to see the main donkey trail that was the main road through this Island.
A pathway between two walls originally called "Akti Olountos"
We head up the donkey trail heading East going up
Approx two hundred meters to the ruined house by the trail
Buildings, probably still used by shepherds
Easy to follow pathway all the way back to the car park.
The path is rocky with the undergrowth and bushes which can snag you as you go along.
Another ruin with a water tank another 225 meters further on
Highest point before a descent down to the shoreline
Pathway zig-zags another 150 meters down to another building before a straight run all the way back
From building 350 meters to the shoreline and then follow the roadway all the way back to the start.
A few rough steps to the right of the building as you continue down
Shoreline road, on a blustery day the sea can spray over the entire roadway.
Back to car park approx 1.15 kms