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Paths of Apokoronas (Route 10)

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Route 10:  Dafnomadara and Azilakas Forest
Kournas - Agios Ioannis - Patima - Kastellos - Azilakas Forest (Koumares)
Total length: 7.6 km, estimated time 3h 55΄
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Route 10 is one of the most beautiful nature-loving routes of Apokoronas, which combines the lush Forest of Azilakas with the peaks of Dafnomadara (part of the mighty Lefka Ori) and the picturesque villages of Kournas, Kastellos and Patima. The route starts from the central square of the village of Kournas, which is estimated to have been founded or moved to its current location during the second Byzantine period (961-1252), as archeologic excavations in the churches of Agios Georgios and Agia Irini have revealed some interesting Byzantine frescoes in good condition (in some places there are up to four successive layers, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century). The oldest written reference to Kournas is made in an attorney certificate of 1356, and since then it is continuously mentioned by the Venetian censuses. During the 1866-1869 revolution Kournas became the seat of the Revolutionary Government for a period, and the temporary seat of the Cretan Assembly during the 1897 revolution.
From the central square of Kournas move southwest (and uphill) to the southern end of the settlement, shortly after which you will encounter an inverted Ψ-like crossroads. Follow the right (west) branch and walk 500 meters to the next fork, where you will turn left (southeast). About 600 meters above you will find another crossroads, where you can turn left (north) to visit the chapel of Agios Ioannis (next to which there’s a spring), or continue right (east) to Dafnomadara, the north end of Mount Omanite, on the eastern tip of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori). About 700 meters away you’ll reach another fork, where you have two options: one is to turn left (north) and head to Kastellos or Kournas through the Azilakas Forest (the forest starts after 400 meters) and the other is to turn right (east), following the path to Agios Antonios (1 km away) and the village of Patima (another 1 km from there).
Patima is a small village built on a hill with excellent views to Kastellos, the Gulf of Almyros and the plain of Episkopi. The origin of its name is not known (it means “step” in Greek), but it is estimated it was founded during the Venetian rule, when it was chosen as seat of a garrison. The village is historically connected with the villages of Kastellos and Kournas, which has led to the three villages being commonly named as “Kournopatimata”. After touring the settlement, the path leads you to the church of Christos, 300 meters northwest of the village.
From here walk slightly uphill to Kastellos, in the center and highest point of which you will find the church of Agios Nikolaos. The original settlement was built at the northern end of the hill, in a location called Agathés or Agathiás, but during the Venetian rule the hill was fortified and used as a castle (castello), hence its name. Some significant battles took place in and around the village in 1821 and 1835, while Kastellos also played an important role during the German occupation (1941-1945), when it became a temporary refuge for guerrilla groups.
From Kastellos head west to the impressive Azilakas Forest, which took its name from a tree that has the same name, an endemic species of oak that can reach up to 25 meters in height and whose leaves look like those of the olive tree. After reaching the bottom of the valley, at a distance of about 1 km from Kastellos, turn right (north) towards Kournas, where you will reach after 1.5 km of lush and impressive landscape.
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 Source: Municipality of Apokoronas (2022)
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