Vrysinas, located approximately 8 km far from Rethymno, is one of the mountains of Rethymno prefecture with rich history and constant human presence through the centuries. The mountain’s flanks are verdant due to a lot of springs (vrysi=fount), which it was named after.

The highest cone-shaped peak of Vrysinas, the Agio Pnevma (Holy Spirit), is located at an altitude of 858 meters, on the southern side of the range. It was spotted and identified as a peak’s sanctuary by Paul Faure, Philhellene French archaeologist, in 1963. The church of Agio Pnevma (Holy Spirit) was built on this spot, overlooking the whole province of Rethymno.

Thousands of excavation finds, unearthed in the area, include figurines and ceramics from Neopalatian period mostly, the period of the prosperity of the Minoan civilization, proving to us that some rituals and gatherings were performed in this area. The ancient sanctuary was dedicated to female goddess Artemis-Diktina, worshiped throughout the western Crete. From archaeological finds, however, the human presence is detected long before this site was used as a sanctuary, since traces of human habitation have been found from the Final Neolithic period (4000-3200 BC).

During the Venetian and Turkish occupation, along with the cult that was still performed there, the top was also used as a watch. During the Greek War for Independence, many battles took place at this same location. At present, it is the fire watchtower.

The peak of Agio Pnevma is easily accessible and lies in the area enclosed by plateaus and valleys formed by the flowing-down water. The plateau on the top of the mountain is called “kampos” (=flatland) by the locals.

The northern edges of Vrysinas are contiguous to the sea. The Fortezza Fortress is erected on such a border, at an altitude of 41 m above the sea, on a cove that is formed by the projection of the mountain.

While driving from Heraklio to Rethymno, when you reach the Panormo settlement, you will see the Mt Vrysinas as if emerging from the sea, rising gradually to the top and then lowering towards southeast, trying to adjoin Psiloritis.

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