Oak Forest Cycling route Cycling route
The longest section of this relatively short route of 27 klm. passes through a protected forest of cultivated oaks, unique throughout Crete. It begins from Rethymno, passes through the village of Gallou, where the university campus is located and a little bit further the restored Monastery of Peter and Paul. Written testimonies about the history of the Monastery do not exist, while traditions abound. It is a sacred part of Arkadi Monastery.
Then the road continues towards south, passing through the small village of Somatas. This village is listed in a 16th century census. During the Ottoman domination the village was inhabited by many Turkish Aga. At Somatas is the church of Saint George, of Renaissance architecture. The route ends at the Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni (12th century bC), which is the largest cemetery of carved tombstones in Crete. The route from here continues westwards to the village of Kastellos, with a beautiful view to the mount Vrissinas, and reaches the Old National Road, which passes through picturesque villages, like Agios Andreas, Gonia and Prines, all of them ideal for a refreshing stop to their small traditional cafes. The latter is a village with many Venetian and Ottoman elements in its architecture. Among the sights of the village, apart from the Venetian buildings, is the church of Agios Nikolaos (10th – 11th century), the protector of the village, which is situated next to the old stone-built school. In the church there is an old miraculous icon of the saint who made many miracles during the Ottoman domination. That is why the image became the target of the Ottomans who looted the temple and tried with their swords to violate the picture without effect. In fact, the tradition says that the bullet of a Turk who shot the icon, was ostracized and blinded him. Last is Atsipopoulo, an attractive large village exhibiting strong Venetian architectural elements, from where the road descends back to Rethymno.