About the area
The genuine side of Crete continues to thrive at the tops of mountains and their beautiful wild nature. In those places where only the simplicity and luxury of nature prevails, one can find the authentic and traditional Crete.
Patsos is one of the places where you can enjoy this scenery. Patsos offers its guests landscapes of rich natural beauty, unique historical and cultural attractions, an excellent local traditional cuisine and above all, the famous hospitality of its people. It is located 20 km south of Rethymnon at an altitude of 490m, being at the foot of the mountain Soros.
Patsos is a small verdant village in the former province of Amari. Now it is a district of the Amari municipality. Around it are the villages Karines, Pantanassa and Gerakari. When coming to Patsos, the impression you get is that you are entering a peaceful, different world. Here dominate the smells of nature and flowers and the sounds of singing birds and running waters.
The village has rich vegetation. It produces all kinds of good quality foods like olive oil, walnuts, cherries and many different fruits. This vegetation and crops are watered by the many springs that pass through the village all year round.
We do not know when the village was founded. But it is known that there were settlements in the area from the early Minoan period or earlier, as evidenced by the findings in the nearby cave in the Agios Antonios gorge, known as the Kranaios Cave.
The village is mentioned in Barozzi to have 110 inhabitants in 1577. In the census of 1881 it is reported to belong to the Merona Municipality and to have 301 inhabitants (14 Greeks and 287 Turks). In 1920 Patsos was stated to administratively belong to the Pantanassa community, and in 1940 it officially became its own administrative community.
In the outskirts of the village lies the ruined church of Virgin Mary, which was once a Cathedral.
North of the village is the Cave of Kranaios Ermis, in the gorge of Agios Antonios. This cave 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 first excavations in the Cave started in 1885-6 by F. Halbherr, in the place where now lies the church of Agios Antonios. Most of the findings were anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, now located at the Museum of Heraklion. The excavations showed that the Minoans held rituals mainly in rock shelters, and found animal bones that were put at the stake, as well as vases and figurines.
In the same excavations a statue of the mythical god Pan was also found. Today the Forest Protection Directorate has configured this space of to be more accessible and pleasant to visitors and facilitate worship for the chapel of Agios Antonios, which is carved within the rocks of the gorge. Visitors can enjoy the shade of the old plane trees and the rock shelters, as well as the calm river waters passing through the gorge to end up at the Potamoi dam. They can also follow the laid out path leading from the Cave to the dam.
The Gorge of Patsos is located about 2 km south of the village of Patsos. It is a good choice for nature lovers and beyond. It is like a small botanical garden. Crossing the gorge takes about two hours, it is relatively easy and can be performed almost throughout the year. Visitors will be impressed from the many springs that help the rich vegetation flourish throughout the year.