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There are two main roads leading to the municipality of Kofina: from the north, the Heraklion-Peza-Choudetsi-Pretirio-Asimi road and from the south, the Mires-Loures-Asimi road.
There are hourly buses from Heraklion that leave from the main bus-station at the port.
The roads linking the villages with the county-town are reliable and in good condition.
There are however some dirt roads, mainly those leading up into the Asteroussia mountains and down to the coast of the Lybian sea, all of them safe to drive on.
The municipality includes every type of facility: medical centre, pharmacy, traditional 'kapheneions', super markets, shops, tavernas, branches of the Agricultural and the Greek National Banks.
You will find refreshments in every village (coffee, cold drinks), and can always count on finding some sort of light meal as well.
Archaeological finds show that this region had been inhabited since ancient times.
There was a Minoan peak sanctuary on the highest summit of the Kofinas mountain and, in the location of Argio close to Asimi, the ruins of a Hellenistic settlement can still be seen. The head of a Hellenistic satyr was found in Asimi and several bronze utensils in Atsipades.
This rich area attracted both the Turks and the Venetians and it is from the Venetian castle of Bonifaccio that the whole region took its present name: Monofatsi. This fortress, now in ruins, was built at Psilo Kasteli, close to the village of Tsifout Kasteli in the commune of Akria.
The municipality of Kofina covers an area of great natural beauty that will enchant all visitors.
The mountain of Kofinas is most imposing: its north flank is rough and bare, full of wild spots of great beauty, whereas its south flank is a haven of greenery. The mountain bears to this day signs of its great religious importance through the centuries, from Minoan to Byzantine times.
The abandoned settlements of Velouli and Aghios Nikolaos are well worth visiting. Other sites to visit in this area are the lovely coast of Aghios Ioannis Koudoumas, the monastery of Koudoumas, the caves of Aghios Antonios, of Varvakospilios or Avakospilios, the beach and gorge of Tripiti.
Endless coves and inlets form a unique turquoise necklace of crystal clear water along this remote coast.
THE MONASTERY OF KOUDOUMAS
The monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and lies to the west of the Aspes or Martelos headland, hidden in a small sandy bay by the Lybian sea.
The church, partly built inside a cave, has been successfully renovated, and shows some of the original stones used in its construction, as well as what has survived of its mural paintings.
VARVAKOSPILIOS OR AVAKOSPILIOS - THE CAVE OF AGHIOS ANTONIOS
The Varvakospilios cave is just ten minutes walk to the west of the monastery. The path is rough but well marked with red paint, and follows the beautiful coastline.
The cave is bound to impress you with its columns made of dozens of stalactites and stalagmites. A second chamber, just as impressive, follows the first one.
According to local tradition, the cave was dedicated to the goddess of fertility, and women who were unable to conceive came here with offerings and prayers.
However, the visit of this cave is but a foretaste for those who intend visiting the cave of Aghios Antonios, which is a good hour's walk from the monastery and requires careful trekking.
Take a north-westerly direction, leaving the monastery behind you. Follow the red arrows, among the pine trees and the carob trees. You will see in front of you and to your right lovely isolated coves and small beaches.
The cave has stalactites and stalagmites. Ďne of them is in the shape of Aghios Antonios, and forms a niche along the wall of the cave, where the icon of Aghios Antonios is revered by the faithful. It is possible that hermits used to live in this cave, away from the noise of the world and protected from the harshness of the weather.
From the cave you can go down to any of the many little beaches and enjoy a well earned swim before making your way back to the monastery.
This is the county town of the Municipality of Kofina, in the province of Monofatsio, prefecture of Heraklion. Built at the water junction of the Geropotamo and the Anapodari rivers, at a height of 290 m above sea-level, it has over 1100 inhabitants. Asimi is 51 km away from Heraklion along the Knossos-Peza-Choudetsi-Ligortinos-Praetoria road. It can also be reached from the south, taking the Mires-Aghioi Deka-Gangales-Asimi road.
The town ifs first mentioned in a document from a notary, Martselo, in Chandax dating back to 1280. In 1395 it is referred to as part of a fief belonging to Julian Vassalo.
The modern town is the commercial centre of the area and has every type of service its inhabitants or visitors might require: banks, pharmacies, shops, restaurants, tavernas, medical centre and so on.
The town lives off its agricultural and commercial activities.
The Cultural Association of the county town organizes every year a variety of cultural and athletic events -the most notable being the feast of the patron saint of Asimi, Saint Titus on the 25th of August, a genuine traditional Cretan feast.
Ruins of a Roman settlement, where Hellenistic finds were unearthed, can be seen close to the town, in a location known as Argio.
Two small chapels outside the town have their own feasts and are well worth a visit: that of Zoodochos Pigis and that of Aghios Charalambos, with its feast day on February 10th.
There is a Lower and an Upper Akria. The village lies 4 km to the north-west of Asimi. Documents of 1368 refer to old settlements belonging to the fiefs of the Pizani and the Prizzi families.
On September 8th a feast is celebrated in the honour of the Virgin Mary at the church of the Panaghia in Upper Akria, and Aghios Georgios is feasted on November 3rd in Lower Akria.
At a height of 460 m above sea-level, this village lies 5 km to the north-west of Asimi, the county town of the municipality of Kofina. Built on a hill, it offers the visitor a panoramic view of the Messara plain.
A first reference to Atsipades is found in a document of 1248, and from then on it is mentioned in every census, including the Turkish and the Egyptian ones.
The church of Aghia Ekaterini inside the village has its feast day on November 25th. Another church worth visiting is that of Aghia Paraskevi, close to a water spring and among lovely trees. Some wall paintings still remain in the chapel, though in a poor state. The feast day is on July 27th.
Finally, the chapel of Afenti Christos, hidden among the olive groves, has its feast day on August 6th.
Its church, Aghios Dimitrios, has its feast day on October 26th.
The village is 3 km from Asimi. It is quoted as belonging to the municipality of Megali Vrissi in 1881 and to that of Stoloi in 1920.
7 km to the north of Asimi, this village is mentioned in documents of 1375 and in the 1583 Register of Chandax.
The fortress of Castel Bonifaccio, which gave its name -Monofatsio- to the whole province, was built on a height of 400 m above sea-level to the north-west of the village.
There are two main churches, that of Saints Constantine and Helen (feast day on May 21st) and the old church of Aghios Dimitrios.
2 km to the west of the county town, and at a height of 270 m above sea-level, this village has about 280 inhabitants, most of them refugees from Asia Minor.
It is mentioned in the 1583 Register, with 109 inhabitants.
Olive oil, raisins and garden produce are the main products. The village celebrates the feast of the Holy Cross on September 14th.
On the north flanks of the Asteroussia mountains, at a height of 250 m above sea-level, 7 km away from Asimi,lies the village of Dionysi.
It owes its name to the church of Aghios Dionysios, whose feast day (October 3rd) is much celebrated by the local population.
Visitors come from neighbouring villages and are invited by the villagers into their houses where they are offered wine and traditional food. The same tradition is repeated on the feast day of the Evangelistria, March 25th.
Other churches and chapels are those of Saints Constantine and Helen, that of the Transformation of Our Saviour, the chapel of Aghios Georgios and that of Zoodochos Pigi, in the midst of lush vegetation and celebrating its feast day on the first Friday after Easter Sunday.
The village main income is based on olive oil, raisins and garden produce.
6 km to the south-west of Asimi, on the north flanks of the Aasteroussia mountains, at a height of 295 m above sea-level, lies the village of Panaghia.
It is referred to as Petropanaga because of the small settlement of Petria, not far away to the west.
Significant archaeological finds were unearthed in the location known as Patela, not far from the village. Among these, several clay figurines and zodiac signs of the Middle Minoan period, possibly from some peak sanctuary, a Greek figurine of the sitting goddess and a large number of Greek and Roman coins.
It is possible that an ancient city was once erected on this location.
The chapels outside the village are all located in beautiful surroundings and are worth visiting. Their feast days are all celebrated by the local population.
With the Asteroussia mountains looming behind, this village is only 4 km away from Asimi, at a height of 310 m above sea-level. Sternes is first referred to in a 1271 agreement for the purchase of good wine from the area.
Nowadays there are 420 residents in Sternes, engaged in agricultural activities (olive oil, raisins and cattle raising).
The village celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary on November 21st.
Other traditional Cretan feasts and cultural events -organized with the help of the Cultural Association- are also held during Carnival, on the first of May and in mid-summer.
This village is located 5 km to the north-west of the county town of the municipality of Kofina, and counts about 600 inhabitants with the neighbouring Inia. The main activities are the production of olive oil, of raisins and cattle raising.
It is possible that the original name of the village was Apostoloi, from the church dedicated to the Holy Apostles situated in the cemetery of the village.
The feast day is on March 25th, the Annunciation or Evangelismos.
At a height of 400 m just 5 km to the north-west of Asimi, this village is already quoted in the Ducal Archives of Chandax in 1379.
Most of its inhabitants originally came from Asia Minor.
The olive tree and the vineyard are the main sources of activity.
Less than 3 km to the north-east of Asimi, at a height of 360 m above sea-level, this village probably owes its name to a Byzantine family called Sokaras, a name that means: "he who makes ropes".
The settlement is mentioned in 1271 in an agreement between an inhabitant and a Jew from Chandax for the purchase of good wheat and good cheese from the region.
There are over a thousand inhabitants in Sokaras, Metochi Sokaras and Apoini.
The patron saint of the village nowadays is Aghios Antonios (January 17th). But earlier, it used to be Aghios Georgios the Drunk (November 3rd) and a great feast, on a Dionysian scale, was celebrated in his honour, with a great amount of food and drink. Serious efforts are being made to revive this feast.
The ruins of the settlement of Velouli lie not far from Sokaras. This small village had 100 inhabitants, as mentioned in the 1583 Register of Chandax, but it has remained uninhabited since 1961. However, the location and the view are very pretty and the Byzantine chapel of the Panaghia Veloulianis is worth seeing.
The Acropolis of Vagiotes, built on a rock to the east of the village, with a wonderful panoramic view of the whole county, is of great interest with its stone presses, chambers, steps dug out of the rock, and other remains that lie there waiting for the right moment and the right person to disclose secrets of past glories…
This village is located at a height of 320 m above sea-evel, a short distance of Sokaras, to the north of Asimi. It is mentioned in the 1583 Register with 280 inhabitants.
Residents of Apoini found an important collection of ancient coins in the ruins of Velouli in 1957, but nobody knows what has become of it.
This village is built at a height of 240 m above sea-level, on the south edge of the valley of Messara and is mentioned in the Archives of Chandax in 1370.
It is possible that the name Stavies has its origin in the Italian name Stavia, a town destroyed in the eruption of the Vesuvio in 79 AD. After the destruction of their village, refugees could have landed in Crete and built the present village.
This village is situated 11 km to the west of Asimi.
It figures in all the Venetian censi of the province of Monofatsio, as well as in the Turkish and Egyptian censi. Chourmoutzis Vyzantios CHECK in 1842 mentions the existence to the east of Fournofarango of a large church dedicated to Aghios Georgios Koulouritis, in the middle of a ruined and abandoned town bearing the same name.
Nowadays,the feast of Aghios Georgios at Koulourida, 1 km away, is celebrated with great pomp on April 23rd, in the midst of the lush vegetation of the Asteroussia mountains. The location offers a splendid view over the whole region.
A water spring in the middle of the chapel is believed to have healing powers, and indeed it has a wonderful light taste. Many people come from afar to carry it back to their homes.
The Cultural Association of the village has been very active and successful in reviving old traditions.
This village is situated at an altitude of 750 m above sea-level, 11 km away from Asimi. It is not mentioned in any of the Venetian censi, though its Byzantine church dates back to the 15th century.
There is a Minoan peak sanctuary close to the summit of the Kofinas mountain, in a place known as Metzolati. Many finds help to identify this location as a former shrine: several animal and human clay figurines and bronze votive objects were found in nearby caves.
Nowadays the church of the Holy Cross has replaced the ancient sanctuary, but the panoramic view remains the same. The church has its feast day on September 14th. On the other hand, the village celebrates the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, when a typical Cretan feast takes place every year.
There is a series of beautiful beaches, like that of Aghios Ioannis and others, along the coast down from Kapetaniana towards Koudouma, but they are very difficult to reach and only the very fit should undertake such a walk. The difficulty of access explains why this wonderful coast has retained its original beauty and wilderness.