The catacomb of St. Anthony

Vasilies

The catacomb of St. Anthony at Youchtas
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On the road passing across the north side of mount Youchtas and connecting Archanes with Vasilies, very close to the Minoan Sanctuary of Anemospilia, we meet a sign to Αγιος Αντώνιος (Agios Antonios). From there, a concrete road descends through olive trees and vineyards and ends in a flat plateau with tremendous views of Heraklion city and the island of Dia. At this point, a recreation area with benches has been formed, a perfect destination for a city break and picnic.

A short stone path ascends to a small piney park. Next to it we find a cavernous church. The temple is one of the many in Crete dedicated to Saint Anthony, the "saint of the caves". It is a catacomb carved in the soft limestone of the area. Probably, it is the residue of an ancient temple or grave formed after widening a pre-existing cave. We should not overlook the existence of the several Minoan sacred caves on Mount Youchtas.

The sanctuary of the church is not located in the far depth of the cave, but in a semi-circular room in the middle of the temple, carved to face the East, as the Christian tradition demands, and divided by simple wooden icon shrine (iconostasis). On the ceiling of the catacomb there are two large carved circular holes that provide lighting, one above the entrance and one above the sanctuary. Next to the shrine we see a carved trough, which was possibly used as a tomb.

Note the small holes in the walls, in which candles are placed on the feast day of Saint Anthony, on January 17.

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Additional Info

  • Prefecture: Heraklion
  • Type: Church
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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