From the inland resort of Lardos follow signs to Laerma, which is just north of Moni Tharri, famous for its 12th-century frescoes. Reached through a forest, the domed church was hidden from view in order to escape the attention of marauding pirates.
According to legend, it was built in the 9th century by a mortally ill Byzantine princess, who miraculously recovered when it was completed.
The 12th-century north and south walls remain, and there are vestiges of the 9th-century building in the grounds. The nave, apse and dome are covered with frescoes. Some walls have four layers of paintings, the earliest dating as far back as 1100, while there are three layers in the apse dating from the 12th-16th centuries. These are more distinct, and depict a group of prophets and a horse’s head. The monastery has been extended and has basic accommodation for visitors.
About 8 km (5 miles) south along a rough track is the pleasant village of Asklipieio, with the frescoed church of Kimisis tis Theotokou.