Koudoumas. Koudoumas is the name of a monastery, centrally located on the south coast of the island of Crete. At the same time it is the name of a beach that is popular among harpoon fishermen and snorkelers. The monastery is located near the beach. The route to it is a special experience, as the road crosses the high Asterousia Mountains and is very impressive. The distance from Heraklion town is 71 kilometers, but the last 26 kilometers of the road are going over a dirt road. Just for this last part one needs an hour. The dirt road is passable and begins immediately after the village of Sternes. The road goes uphill to about 1000 meters, the view over the Messara Plain, the largest plain in Crete and behind the Ida Mountains, is incredibly beautiful. The northern slopes of the mountains are bare, the southern slopes of the mountain are, however, completely different. Suddenly now you’ll see high, steep gray cliffs and pine forests. The nature and the views here are very impressive. Everywhere mountain goats and hairpin turns, the steep rugged southern coastline and the sea are incredibly beautiful.
Once down, you come to the monastery. You can open the gate of the grounds of the monastery itself and you can drive the car inside. Do not forget to close the gate again, because otherwise there will come all kinds of goats inside! Striking here are the caves in the rocks, where monks lived. At the beach there are no sunbeds and no umbrellas, expect no tavern or pub. Everything is pristine and pure nature. The entrance to the monastery is located on the western side. The church is built on a cave and is dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother Mary. The monastery of Koudoumas exists since the 13th century, but its present form dates from 1870, after the monks Eumenios and Parthenios came to live here.
Text: Yorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Revised by Maxine van Hoften Gee