The deserted settlement Axenti is located amongst the most fertile fields and forests of oak in the area and was blessed to have several water springs. There is a lovely trail starting from Pirouniana, crossing the oak forest of Papoura, coming across carved wine presses, water mills, the church of St. George Chostos and a waterfall, and reaching Axenti after 15 minutes.
The name Axenti is probably taken after the patron saint of the settlement, Saint Auxentius. Even today the village church dedicated to the Holy Spirit hosts the icon of St. Auxentius.
Axenti was as a settlement of the Venetian Era, because the temple of the Holy Spirit dates back from the 16th century. The temple was built by the Venetian noble Marcus Veneris from the family of Venier who stayed in the area with the wonderful climate during summer. The coat of arms of Venier is still carved on the exterior wall of the church with the date 1568 and the initials of Mark Veneris (MV).
During the Ottoman period, specifically in the year 1732, the whole village changed its religion to Islam in order to avoid losing privileges. Later the residents of Axenti became some of the most feral janissaries of central Crete and all Christians feared them. Indeed, the name Axenti was associated with cruelty and hatred.
The village lost completely its Christian character and the temple of the Holy Spirit was converted into a mosque. Just north of the church there are the ruins of a second temple that the locals call Saint John.
Text – Photos: Christopher Cheiladakis