Traostalos is one of the highest mountains near the coast of east Crete and is 14km far from Palekastro Village. Despite its only moderate height (515.4 m), however, the solid, isolated massif of Traostalos dominates the surrounding area, and its summit can be distinguished from afar, both from the sea and from inland.
From Azokeramos settlement (10km south of Palekastro village)and next to the Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis, there is a new dust road, which leads to the top of the mountain. The road which is of good condition, was made recently and it is not difficult to drive it, either by a simple car.
If you are lovers of the hiking, the route will offer you a marvellous view to the Zakros’ area, to Xerokambos (southern) and to the small settlements near Palekastro as Chochlakies, Kelaria, Adravasti).
As you reach the top, you will see the perfect blue of the Cretan Sea to the east. Before that you will see the entrance of Karoumes’ gorge. From the top you can see clearly the Skinias bay to the north. The highest point of the sanctuary commands an uninterrupted view over the entire east end of Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and the Dionysades islets to the north, and Koufonisi to the south. It thus overlooks the sea route from the north Aegean to the east Mediterranean.
The hikers will need almost one hour to ascend the last 5km. Just think that the route starts from Azokeramos (260m high) and ends to the tope Traostalos (520m). The return is much easier.
In the eastern side of the mountain, near the sea and 150 m high the known cave of the area of Zakros “Pelekita” is situated.
The sightseeing in the area and the view of the tops of the surrounding Sitian mountains will give an appetite for more activities and adventures.
Traostalos was first excavated in 1963-1964 under Kostis Davaras. Davaras returned in 1978 to continue that work. A rescue excavation from April to October 1995 was led by Stella Chryssoulaki.
Along with the usual clay human and animal figurines common to peak sanctuaries, Traostalos has, notably, a female figure with a swollen leg. Other finds at Traostalos include ceramic boats and stone altars.
What is a Minoan Peak Sanctuary..
Peak sanctuaries (iera korifis in Greek) are a type of shrine, a cult or ritual space associated with the Bronze Age Aegean, specifically Minoan society on Crete, between about 2000 and 1450 BC.
Peak sanctuaries are located on or close to the summit of a mountain: altitudes range between 200-1,200 meters (650-4000 feet) above sea level and as such provide a 360 degree view of the region. They typically are located on the highest local peak visible from and within three hours walking distance of an associated settlement.
They are also visible from other peak sanctuaries, the sight lines creating a network of shrines floating above the terrain.
The structures built at peak sanctuaries are minimal, consisting generally of a clay or stone altar or table in an open space. Artifacts recovered from peak sanctuaries include human and animal terracotta figurines, terracotta votive limbs (effigies of human body parts), and miniature pots. Also nearby are the debris of use for these shrines: broken pottery drinking vessels, miniature vases, fragments of models, and plain pebbles brought up from the lowlands.
Between Palekastro and Zakros you can find lots of pretty villages with beautiful churches in a green surrounding. Azokeramos is one of them and it can be reached on the Palekastro – Zakros road. The distance from Sitia is about 30 kilometers.
At the entrance of the village (which is the start of the route to Traostalos peak) there is the Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis. Together with a number of other small villages the village of Azokeramos lies in in a fertile valley that is surrounded by high mountains on all sides. In the village Azokeramos itself there is a nice big church in the shape of a cross. Next to the church stands the clock tower and it is surrounded by cypresses.
Here you have wonderful views over the valley which is filled with olive trees. A little deeper into the village there is another small church that consists of two houses with turrets at the back. At the front you can see the tower with the clock rise high above the church. The front also has three crosses. Also there are many crumbling old stone houses in the village.