The unknown canyon of Venerato is located 17km south of Heraklion, just next to the village Venerato and Paliani Monastery. The deep part of the gorge is very short in length (about 500m), but its beauty does not leave the visitor unaffected, although it is badly infected by human activities.
Starting from Avgeniki village, it ends at the church of Agios Fanourios in Venerato, which is built below a steep cliff. You can take a short walk in the canyon starting from Agios Fanourios and combine your walk with a short tour in Venerato village, where the Venetian nobles used to have their villas. The Venetians used to call Venerato "Little Venice" because of the beauty of the landscape.
Inside the gorge flows the river Apollonas, which has water all year round, and carries water from the area of Agia Varvara to the river Giofyros. The name Apollonas (Apollo) comes from the ancient town of Apollonia, which was located here. There are some remains surviving near the gorge. Continuing in the gorge, the vegetation and the platan trees become lush and mix very nicely with one large old watermill. From there the canyon gets narrower (it reaches 60cm in width), while the walls reach a height of 25 meters.
Walking more, you will see a big cave, Gra Spiliara (Old Cave), where many wild pigeons nest. The cave, and generally the canyon, served as a refuge during the Turkish Era and the German Occupation of Crete. In some places, you need to get wet, while in some other parts you need to climb (easily) on some rocks. It is also recommended, for those who walk down the gorge, to wear a helmet, as some goats on the sides of the canyon might cause some stone falls. Moving on, after 80m you meet the Kouroupi area, the point where the canyon walls rise almost to unite, while several small waterfalls are formed. On the right, there is a slit in the rock that is just one man and has a length of 20 meters. It ends in a deadlock, as there is a cliff of 7 meters in height and a deep pond at its end. In Kouroupi ends the walking part of the gorge.
Till the 1950s, the locals drank water from this river, watered the gardens and the river hosted turtles, eels, crabs and other animals, but now unfortunately the ecosystem has been heavily degraded by pollution and domestic sewage. This place definitely deserves a better fate and we hope that it will find it.