A Walk Among the Stone Towers at Potamos

A Walk Among the Hand-Stacked Stone Towers at Potamos Malia

 Apart from being a famous destination in Crete for its attractive beaches, nightlife, and mass tourism, the Hersonissos-Malia coastline also offers some resting oases of breathtaking beauty and serenity, accessible all year round. One of these spectacular places is located about 2.5 km northeast of Malia at the end of Potamos Beach, part of the protected Malia great wetland and Minoan Palace & Archaeological Site.

Discovering the Hand-Stacked Stone “Gallery”

 Potamos beach is one of our favorite summer beaches, but now, on a September day, we thought of visiting the surroundings, on a relaxing walk and taking some photos with landscapes in the colors of autumn. Starting from Taverna Kalyva, leaving the beach on the left, and climbing an old dune, a lovely view of a wild landscape unfolds beyond our eyes, like a sanctuary of reveries.

 Embraced by the crystalline seawater, the rocky shore draws a few easy trails for hiking enthusiasts. Alongside, a mini-park with coastal vegetation like aromatic plants, bushes, and reeds seems to be the perfect shelter for lots of little birds, colorful bugs, and butterflies.

 In the golden light of the fall, the narrow footpaths invite us for a quiet walk, allowing us to explore the vibrant art of wild Nature with our cameras. Suddenly, an impressive number of human-made piles of rocks appear among the cliffs, looking like some weird antennas from Stone Age. Wow!… We get closer, full of excitement and curiosity. Stepping carefully through the rocks stacked on top of one other in a perfect balance, we're wondering what might be these all about? What motivated people to put their patience and abilities to the test? Is it a form of art, meditation, or worship?

 Anyway, we set out to investigate more about the subject when we get home and get the most of our unusual discovery.

 Rocks and Food-for-Thought

 Like two big kids in an open-air playground, we enjoy exploring the rock towers and having a lot of fun. We play also with some philosophical ideas, letting ourselves be inspired by that thought-provoking place and pointing out the beauty of ordinary things in our existence. For instance: stones are strong, and steady, but versatile at the same time, ready to confront any challenge – so let’s learn from them!; during our growth – physical, emotional, intellectual -  we need to stay grounded, aligned, and centered like a column, and rebuild if we fall!; in this way, we find out the self meaning, and by serving others life, we leave the mark of our existence; stones hold the entire history of this planet in their memory. And that’s what we’ll all become, someday! 

Some Insights Into the Tradition of Rock Stacking

 Well, from tombs to monuments and pyramids, in the history of our planet, the raw stones have always been subject to the power of mankind to shape and use them. It is known that across cultures for centuries, stacking up rocks has carried astronomical, spiritual, and religious meanings, or served as path indicators for hiking or hunting. Ever since childhood, we, humans, are fascinated to build and play with stones in nature, to observe and shape the environment. Scientifically proven, we need this sensorial and energetic connection to the earth, for our health.

 It seems that, in our modern civilization, the practice of balancing stones is more of meditative art, spiritual ritual, or a free method of having fun. Nowadays, putting rocks on top of one another along mountain paths, river valleys, or beaches, has turned into a nice global fashion while visiting a natural park or wildlife reserve. Some amazing “defying-gravity” works of art became famous, due to the viral pictures on the internet, while galleries of man-made rock piles and even theme festivals in wild landscapes appear everywhere around the world.  Is this habit good or bad?

 On the one side, some people may find this stone stacking exercise a healing therapy for body-mind and soul. Each rock can signify a thought, a feeling, a wish, or an intention to focus on while working to fix them in a perfect vertical balance helps improve creativity, attention, patience, and perseverance. And, not less, it demands a synergy of mental skills, physical effort, and tenacity. Some other people consider stone stacking a form of deep meditation and connection to the inner self, searching for answers to existential questions. A sort of spiritual earthing.

 On the other side, more and more experts, ecologists, and environmental activists ring the alarm regarding the extensive practice of rock stacking, considering it a “superstition” that alters the natural environment and its genuine harmony, by scaring away wild animals, disrupting their habitat or, the worst, by causing erosion and damaging ecosystems. No wonder that a lot of countries, including Greece, create protected areas under their national legislation, that prevent visitors and outdoor adventurers to dig the ground, move or collect any material found in nature, going up to charges for vandalism. 

 If you happen to make your holiday or visit Malia city, don’t miss an escape at Potamos Beach! Go for a walk and take some pictures of yourself among these little anonymous monuments! The "aliens" area of the stacked stone it’s a place to remember! :)

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