Ascent to 798m


Strouboulas Mount
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Strouboulas is the first peak that one can see from Heraklion when looking to the west. The height of the tops is 798 meters above sea level, a small altitude compared to the surrounding mountains and the range of Psiloritis it actually belongs. What makes Strouboulas special and beloved by the locals is its shape reminiscent of the pyramid or volcano when looking from Heraklion. In fact, however, its shape is elongated from east to west but from the city it looks like a perfect pyramid. Indeed its name is taken after the Italian word stromboli, meaning volcano.

Climb to the peak requires hiking uphill about 45 minutes. The most common way of ascent is the path from the beautiful plateau of Strouboulas, where a small red lake is formed in winter. The path to the summit starts next to the church of Saint George, initially through a dirt road and then on a steep but well marked trail. The sparse vegetation of the mountain throughout the climb consists of bushes and oak trees alternating with lentisk.

At the top there is the historic church of the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) which belongs to the village Tylisos near Gazi. The church has a century-long history, as it was built on the holy peak already from the Venetian Era and it was probably built on the site of an ancient sanctuary. During the German occupation, the Germans built pillboxes next to the church in order to control the entire gulf of Heraklion. After losing the war, the Germans blew up all their military facilities and the ancient church was leveled. The destruction of this monument, like so many other German attrocities and brutal acts of desecration or total destruction of Cretan monuments was never brought to justice till today. After the war the inhabitants of Tylisos transported materials on the top and rebuilt the temple from scratch. Since then the church of the Holy Cross is a very important pilgrimage for the whole region and on the feast day of Holy Cross (September 14) many people stay overnight from the previous day.

From the summit visitors can enjoy a truly unique view in every direction Crete, because despite its small height it overlooks about 2/3 of the island. Behind the present church to the north and east we still see the ruins of the German facilities.

The descent is usually on the same side of the mountain, following the same path, but there is the possibility of crossing the mountain to the north. A few meters after the church on the return path we meet another path that heads northwards. This trail in about half an hour long and reaches Doxa plateau. At Doxa there are some traditional taverns and the cave of Doxa with very rich decoration.

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