Seven kilometers outside the city of Heraklion, in the middle of an amazing landscape that combines perennial pine trees and vineyards, lays the palace of ancient Knossos. Knossos was the very center of Minoan Civilization, the so-called first European civilization, and had been covered by volcanic ash for more than 2000 years. People were again able to admire its marvels only by the beginning of the 20th century when Sir Arthur Evans started excavations in citu – and today, thousands of visitors pay annually a visit to the home place of King Minos.
We will start our run just outside of this surrounded by legends place and we will find our way through the vineyards until the entrance of Knossos’ canyon. Running by the side of river Keratos, we will surpass the byzantine church of Virgin Mary, the famous Venetian aqueduct of Santa Irini that used to collect water for Heraklion and we will reach an amazing natural park (nominated as a protected Natura 2000 area) that provides shelter for the local wild flora and fauna (totally harmless to people, we assure you!). After these first 9 off road kilometers of moderate difficulty, we will find ourselves at the entrance of the village of Archanes.
We will make a small (~6km) loop here, running through the Minoan cemetery of Fourni. Archaeologists made some amazing discoveries here, and today it is an ideal place for many outdoor activities, for cultural events (a small open-air theater is placed there) as well as for relaxing. A well-signed trail will again guide us to the main road, where the final and easiest part of our run starts (1 km, asphalt), which will lead us to the village of Archanes, nominated some years before as one of the most beautiful villages in Europe. Its unique character, its cultural inheritance and its tranquility makes Archanes an ideal epilogue for our run. The flowers, the traditional narrow streets, the figures of the local people staring puzzled “…these koyzoyloi (“crazy”, “mad”) runners again”– they will all absorb the tense and fatigue, and let all the breathtaking experience settle down.