In one of the greenest areas of Crete, Amari, at the hilltop of Veni hill you will meet the deserted monastery of Saint Anthony and the homonym cavernous temple celebrating on January 17. To get there, just follow the 3.5km dirt road from the village Voliones. Located at a prominent position with spectacular views to Psiloritis Range, Veni (uphill in the Cretan dialect) was used by the Minoans as a cult cave.
The pretty deep cave is divided into two parts. There is holy water and bones of monks of the past, very impressive old earthen basins that also get filled with the miraculous holy water from the continuous roof drippings, a remnant of Minoan worship embodied later in the Christian culture. At this cave, locals still have the ancient habit to offer the priest vegetables or eggs in order to bless them.
Outside the cave there is a yard with monk cells kept in good condition. The monastery was built by the Byzantines and later, during the Venetian Era, it was the seat of the Chortatzis family (well known to all Cretans due to their revolutionary action). The paved path that leads to the monastery is decorated with fountains with running water and there are many trees that offer shade. One of these trees in the Ottoman period was the place where the notables of the area met and took important decisions. For this reason it is called the 'Pnyx of Crete'. The Turks burned the monastery three times in an attempt to prevent concentrations of rebels.