Agia Ioannis...
On August 29th every year there is a Greek Orthodox pilgrimage to the little church of Agia Ioannis, situated about 6.5km above Rodopos village towards the tip of the peninsula. The road is unpaved, rocky and rises to about 500metres - 1500 ft, before revealing the church, sitting on the right of the small sheltered plateau Gonias, about 700ft below.
No Shade...
There is no real shade available before the church, about 2.5 hours from Rodopos village on foot. Serious walkers will be in their element as will four-wheel drivers in search of the breath-taking views en route to the church.

Church of Agia Ioannis sits on the noth western edge of this plateau on the Rodopos peninsulla, close to the bay of Kissamos.

Legends of Agia Ioannis
Standing beside the church is a huge plane tree, the leaves of which are by legend upside down! The legend has it that a monk once travelled from the church to Norpegia to buy flour. Being a long hot journey with his mule loaded with flour he cut himself a staff from a plane tree. Completing his hard journey he stuck his staff in the ground and challenged St Ioannis - if indeed he be a saint - to make his branch (staff) take root. A few days later his fellows noted that it had, but unfortunately the monk had stuck it in the ground upside down! Hence the upside down leaves. The tree is listed as one of Crete's holy trees.

Another version is that it was St John himself who plunged the stick into the ground

And yet a third legend, which will appeal no doubt to walkers, lovers, the desperate and the doubters is much simpler and concerns marriage.

If you want to be married by August 29th next year you must make the pilgrimage bare-foot!

Be aware - the majority of pilgrims wear shoes and travel in suitable motor vehicles, many in the back of open pick-ups equipped with wooden benches and even chairs tied down as the road is a little bumpy!  Many remain overnight and the plateia and surrounding hillsides lends a temporary home to the stalls of traders and open barbeques of pilgrims and traders. Another truly Cretan experience.

Church of Agia Ioannis, Rodopos peninsula, north western Crete. Beside it the huge plane tree.  Annual pilgrimage August 29th.      The Church of Agia Ioannis