The sacred trees


In the religion of the Minoans, the olive tree had a prominent role as it can regenerate continuously and almost never die. This could symbolize the perpetuation of life through death, like nature. Ancient Greeks used to post dedications on wild olive trees (and other species) to keep evil away. Although all these seem very distant, it is very impressive that even today there are customs that have their roots in the dendrolatric beliefs of antiquity.

The sacred terebinth of Saint Fanourios

On the hill Grivila near the village Ahlade there is built the church of Saint Fanourios. Approximately 100 meters from the church there is a special tree, which is connected with a religious tradition dating back from the ancient tree-worship traditions in Crete. The tree position is called Evresi (Finding) as they say that the miraculous icon of St. Fanourios was found here.


Kofinas whitebeams

Atop the highest peak of Asterousia, Kofinas, stands the church of the Holy Cross and is accessed through a steep trail. On the Feast of Holy Cross, on September 14, dozens of people climb up there to participate in a ritual that has its roots in the Minoan times, when nature and trees were worshiped.


The Holy Myrtle of Paliani

Paliani Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete and it has as a trademark a very old myrtle tree (Myrtus communis). This specific myrtle is considered sacred (Holy Myrtle) and is honored on September 24. Inside the trunk of the Holy Myrtle, as they say, is believed to be the icon of Panagia Mirtidiotissa (Virgin Mary of Myrtle).


Keramota plane tree

At the picturesque village Keramota in province Mylopotamos we meet one of the several monumental trees of Crete. This is the perennial plane tree at the eastern end of the village. The tree in Keramota belongs to the species of Platanus orientalis and its age is estimated at about 2000 years. It is the oldest tree in province Mylopotamos and although it is located on the main road, almost everyone ignores its existence as it is located a few meters further down the road, thus the drivers see the upper part of it.


The sacred styrax of Astyraki

The village of Astyraki in the province of Malevizi takes its name from the ancient styrax (locally called astyrakas), a centuries-old tree that can still be found today in the courtyard of the church of Saint Constantine and Helen.


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