Perfecture: Chania City / Area: Chania Town

Chania City Tour
The city of Chania can be divided into two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one. The old town is situated next to the old harbour and is the matrix around which the whole urban area was developed. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications that started to be built in 1538.[citation needed] Of them, only the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is continuous with the new, and from the north the physical border is the sea. The centre of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south.

The old town

Traditional street in the old town.

Colors of the old town

The borders of the Old Town are the mostly destroyed old Venetian wall (and bulwarks) and this has been the cradle of all the civilizations which were developed in the area. The central part of the old town is named Kasteli and has been inhabited since Neolithic times. It is located on a small hill right next to the seafront and has always been the ideal place for a settlement due to its secure position, its location next to the harbour and its proximity to the fertile valley in the south. Nowadays it is a bit more quiet than the neighbouring areas of the west part of the district. The Splantzia quarter (next to the east part of Kasteli) is also largely untouched.

The main square of the Old Town (next to the west end of Kasteli) is Eleftherios Venizelos Square, also known as Syntrivani (from Turkish şadırvan 'fountain'). It is the heart of the touristic activities in the area. Next to this (on the west side) lies the Topanas district, which was the Christian quarter during the Ottoman period. Its name comes from the Venetian ammunition warehouse (Turkish tophane), which was located there. The Jewish quarter (Evraiki or Ovraiki) was located at the north-west of the Old Town, behind the harbour and within the borders of Topanas. The Topanas area has many narrow alleys and old buildings, some of which have been restored as hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. This makes it a popular place especially during the warm period (April–October).[citation needed] In the winter, it still remains a centre of activities (especially for nightlife).

Finally, a very distinctive area of the Old Town is the harbour itself and generally the seafront ("akti"). Akti Tompazi, Akti Kountouriotou and Akti Enoseos (marina) all feature several historical buildings and a nightlife district. The main street that combines the modern town with the old town is Halidon Str.

The modern city

The fountain in Eleftherios Venizelos Square

The modern part of Chania is where most locals live and work. It is less traditional than the old town, but there are still areas of some historical interest. The oldest district (early 18th century) of the modern city is Nea Hora (meaning "New Town") which is located beyond the west end of the old town. It is a developing area with narrow old lanes leading to a small fishing harbour. During the same era the district of Halepa began to grow to the east of the city and used to be home for the local aristocracy. Some of the historical buildings of the area (including old embassies of foreign countries) had been destroyed or abandoned during the later decades of the 20th century, and it was only recently when some interest was shown for the restoration of the remaining ones.

View of the promenade.

Other historical buildings in the area include Eleftherios Venizelos’s House (built 1876-1880), the old French school (now property of the Technical University of Crete, housing the Department of Architecture), the Church of Agia Magdalini (built 1901-1903), The “Palace” (built 1882, house of Prince George during the period of the Cretan independence) and The Church of Evangelistria (built 1908–1923). Part of the marine area of Halepa is called Tabakaria, where a unique architectural complex of old leather processing houses is situated.[citation needed]

The district of Koum Kapi (the Venetians had first named it "Sabbionara", which means "the Gate of the Sand", the same as "Koum Kapi") situated beyond the walls at the eastern part of the old town, was also one of the first places to be inhabited outside the fortification walls. Initially, it was home for the "Halikoutes", a group of Bedouins from North Africa who had settled there in the last years of Ottoman rule. Nowadays it is a developing area with many cafes, bars and restaurants on its beach.

Castelli district.

Apart from the previously mentioned older districts of the modern part of the town, several new residential areas have been developed during the 20th century, like Agios Ioannis, Koumbes, Lentariana etc. Some part—but not the biggest—of the city centre is dominated by colourless medium-height block buildings, typical of the urbanization period of Greece (1950–1970).[citation needed] However, there are still some neoclassical houses, especially in the eastern part of Chania. There are some parks and several sports grounds, the most important being the Venizeleio Stadium of Chania and the Swimming Pool at Nea Hora. The 1913 indoor market ("Agora"), is on the edge of the old town and is popular with tourists and locals alike. Some other important sites of the newer urban area are The Court House ("Dikastiria", built late in the 19th century), the Public Gardens ("Kipos", created in 1870), the Garden Clock-Tower ("Roloi", built in 1924–1927), the Episcopal Residence (Bishop's residence, "Despotiko", built in the early 19th century) and the House of Manousos Koundouros (built in 1909), the Cultural Centre ("Pnevmatiko Kentro"). The central largest squares in Chania are the Market Square ("Agora"), the Court House Square ("Dikastiria") and the "1866 Square".

Since the 1990s there has been a profound movement of Chania residents towards the suburbs, as well as towards areas around the city which used to be rural, mainly around Kounoupidiana in the Akrotiri Peninsula


Chania city

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Perfecture: Rethymno

Rethymno (Greek: Ρέθυμνο, [ˈreθimno], also Rethimno, Rethymnon, Réthymnon, and Rhíthymnos) is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more than 30,000 (near 40,000 for the municipal unit). It is a former Latin Catholic bishopric as Retimo(–Ario) and former Latin titular see.

Rethymno was originally built during the Minoan civilization (ancient Rhithymna and Arsinoe). The city was prominent enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town: two dolphins in a circle.


Main articles: Rhithymna and Arsinoe (Crete)

View of the old harbour

Inside the Fortezza of Rethymno

The new port

This region as a whole is rich with ancient history, most notably through the Minoan civilisation centred at Knossos east of Rethymno. Rethymno itself began a period of growth when the Venetian conquerors of the island decided to put an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania, acquiring its own bishop and nobility in the process. Today's old town (palia poli) was almost entirely built by the Republic of Venice. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in Crete.

From circa 1250 the city was the seat of the Latin Diocese of Retimo, which was renamed Retimo–Ario after the absorption in 1551 of the Diocese of Ario and as suppressed only after the Turkish conquest.

The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbour and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia houses the information office of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. A Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival, in memory of the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery, is held on 7–8 November.

The city's Venetian-era citadel, the Fortezza of Rethymno, is one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. Other monuments include the Neratze mosque (the Municipal Odeon arts centre), the Great Gate (Μεγάλη Πόρτα or "Porta Guora"), the Piazza Rimondi and the Loggia.

The town was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1646 during the Cretan War (1645–69) and they ruled it for almost three centuries. The town, called Resmo in Turkish, was the centre of a sanjak (administrative part of a province) during Ottoman rule.

During the Battle of Crete (20–30 May 1941), the Battle of Rethymno was fought between German paratroopers and the Second Australian Imperial Force and Hellenic Army. Although initially unsuccessful, the Germans won the battle after receiving reinforcements from Maleme in the Northwestern part of the island.

Today the city's main income is from tourism, many new facilities having been built in the past 20 years. Agriculture is also notable, especially for olive oil and other Mediterranean products.


Rethymno Lighthouse

Street and the belltower of Megalos Antonios church in the fond

Beach of Rethymno

Aquila Rithymna Beach

The municipality of Rethymno was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 4 former municipalities, that became municipal units:

  • Arkadi
  • Lappa
  • Nikiforos Fokas
  • Rethymno

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Rethymno city

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Lake Kournas is a lake on the island of Crete, Greece, near the village of Kournas. It is in the Apokoronas municipality of Chania regional unit close to the border with Rethymno regional unit, 47 km from the town of Chania. Kournas is a fairly large village perched on a hill overlooking the lake.

Crete's only freshwater lake, Lake Kournas, is relatively large, with a perimeter of 3.5 km. Although almost all touristic leaflets say that it is possible to walk around the lake, that is not true. At least not at the end of the rain season (winter). There is a nature preserve on the Southwest of the lake. But there is a rustic road from the North of the lake to the Hills on the West of the lake too.

The lake used to be called Koresia after ancient Korion, a city thought to be in the area with a temple to Athena. The lake reportedly used to be full of eels but now is better known for its terrapins and tourism. Tavernas and pedalo rental shops line part of the shore. Overall, however, the lake retains its beauty, the White Mountains reflected in the mirror-like waters. The width, at the point where the landing stage is built, is about 800 m and the water is of a quality to have caused no ill effects to the writer when he swam across.

If you stand, barefoot, in the water on the sandy beach, tiny fish will (painlessly) nibble dead skin from your feet for free! This is a treatment, which several tourist shops currently (2012) offer at a price.
Road around Lake Kournas
There are two roads that lead to Lake Kournas. As you drive up from the main local road Eparchiaki Odos Georgioupolis-Kournas you will come across road signs posted Lake Kournas Exit 1 and Lake Kournas Exit 2. On Lake Kournas Exit 1 you will come through an area of ten houses and cottages known as Dimitrouliana Metochi(small village) Geolocation: Latitude: 35.33659 | Longitude: 24.2783232,19. A unique feature of Dimitrouliana is a group of stone cottages that were built during the Ottoman rule, during the 1700s and possessing Venetian Architecture. Such houses, can be found in many locations in Crete and have central arches made of thick carved stones and wooden lofts to the left and right sides of the arc. One such cottage with a large central arc is Villa Christiana at the Dimitrouliana Metochi. Lake Kourna's popularity due to its ecosystem, has always been a tourist attraction and many owners have renovated their cottages and homes during the first decade of the second millennium giving an aesthetic look to the area, while preserving the architecture of the structures. The road off the Metochi leads to the lake within 200 meters. As it continues curving along a stretch of the lake, it will come across several isolated restaurants until it reaches to Exit 2 of Lake Kournas. There you can find a more organized structure of taverns and restaurants overlooking the lake. During the tourist season there are pedalos, canoes and sunbed for enjoyment. Leaving the Lake area up the road of Lake Kournas, Exit 2 it leads to the main Eparchiaki Odos of Georgioupolis-Kournas.

Kournas lake

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This article is about Kalyves in Crete. For the village and resort on the coast of mainland Greece, see Kalyves Polygyrou.

Kalyves (Greek: Καλύβες) is a large village in Crete, Greece, the main village in the municipal unit of Armenoi. It is now a popular tourist resort that has maintained its Cretan character.

It is said that the Kalyves took their name from the makeshift accommodation (huts) built by the Arab pirates, when they invaded in 828 AD and occupied the area of Sarakinos near the village. Another version is that the name comes from the huts that the farmers built near their estates to stay in the summer, without having to return to their village every night.


Kalives town

Kalyves is a picturesque, seaside village of Apokoronas, 19 km east of Chania and is connected to the highway which links all four prefectures of Crete. Kalyves, Almyrida, and Plaka consist of the most popular resorts on Cape Drapanos, very well known for their sandy beaches. Apokoronas is also known as one of the greenest areas of Chania, popular for its amazing scenery, combined with hills, trees, mountains, beaches, and traditional architecture.

Kalyves is built in an amphitheater form which, actually, hugs its coastline. Also known as a fishing village, it offers a big variety of natural activities, such as fishing, kayak, windsurfing, hiking, etc. The village is divided into two aspects by the river Xydas, lovely scenery with trees, ducks which make it a perfect wetland. Thanks to River Xydas and another river, Kyliaris, which flows west of the village- Kalives is located in a fertile valley and is full of green and surrounded by olive trees. The natural benefit of that is that during summer instead of the heat, the climate is mild.

According to its natural and geographical advantages, the village of Kalyves was inhabited centuries ago. From the ancient years, there are many excavations that prove its strategical significance considering also the fertility of the soil, thanks to the rivers. It borders from the west with the ancient town of Aptera.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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Almyrida (Greek: Αλμυρίδα) is a seaside resort located in the Apokoronas region of the northwest coast of the island of Crete, Greece. The village is approximately 20 kilometers from Chania, in Chania regional unit. Traditionally a fishing village Almyrida has a long beach that is popular with families. Wind surfers, kayaks, paddle boats and beach chairs can be rented on the beach. There are many hotels, rental rooms, taverns, bars, snack and cafe bars, gift shops, grocery stores and bakeries, all of which are open late into the night in the tourist season. Almyrida is famous for its delicious food, as well as for the shallow waters, ideal for children.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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Apokoronas villages tour


Apokoronas (Greek: Αποκόρωνας) is a municipality and a former province (επαρχία) in the Chania regional unit, north-west Crete, Greece. It is situated on the north coast of Crete, to the east of Chania itself. The seat of the municipality is the village Vryses.[2] The municipality has an area of 315.478 km2 (121.807 sq mi).[3]


Apokoronas extends from the foothills of the White Mountains north to the coast, in a wide plain with rolling hills. To the east, Cape Drapanon rises above the plain and extends out into the Sea of Crete. The area is very green and fertile, unusual for rocky Crete. The Kiliaris river, known in antiquity as 'Pyknos', runs through the region. Robert Pashley suggested that the name 'Apokoronas' came from the ancient city of Ippokoronas or Ippokoronion, also cited by Strabo. This city may have been located near modern Nipos, or on the site of the Venetian fortress, Castel Apicorono, on an outcrop between Kalyves and Almyrida. The major towns of Apokoronas are Vamos, Armenoi and Vryses, with police, municipal and utility offices as well as taverns and large churches; Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupoli are the largest beach resorts. Tourism and agriculture are the major local industries, with much construction and quarrying to satisfy the demands of many foreigners eager to buy or rent properties in what used to be beautiful and traditional villages. Gavalohori is among the more popular villages for foreign buyers, with a large amount of often low-quality building taking place. Many residents or workers in Chania also have homes in the area.

Apokoronas was the location of much of the filming of the movie Zorba the Greek.


The municipality Apokoronas was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 6 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[2]

  • Armenoi
  • Asi Gonia
  • Fres
  • Georgioupoli
  • Kryonerida
  • Vamos


The province of Apokoronas (Greek: Επαρχία Αποκορώνου) was one of the provinces of Chania Prefecture. It covered the same area as the current municipality.[4] It was abolished in 2006.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apokoronas villages tour

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Samariá Gorge

(Redirected from Samaria Gorge)

Samariá Gorge national park

Samaria Gorge

Entrance to the Gorge

Upper entrance

Samaria Gorge

Portes – the narrowest part

The Samariá Gorge (Greek: Φαράγγι Σαμαριάς or just Φάραγγας) is a National Park of Greece since 1962 on the island of Crete – a major tourist attraction of the island – and a World's Biosphere Reserve.

The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Mt. Volakias. There are a number of other gorges in the White Mountains. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but one has to walk another two kilometers to Agia Roumeli from the park exit, making the hike 15 km long. The most famous part of the gorge is the stretch known as the Gates (or, albeit incorrectly, as "Iron Gates"), where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of almost 300 meters (980 feet). The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat), which is largely restricted to the park and an island just off the shore of Agia Marina. There are several other endemic species in the gorge and surrounding area, as well as many other species of flowers and birds.

The village of Samariá lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village's ancient church, Óssia María.

A must for visitors to Crete is to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Sougia or Hora Sfakion, where they could spend a night there, or they could catch a coach back to Chania. The walk takes five to seven hours and can be strenuous, especially at the peak of summer.

There also exists a "lazy way" – from Agia Roumeli to the Gates, and back.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samaria gorge

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Imbros Gorge

Imbros Gorge (Greek: Φαράγγι Ίμπρου, Faragi Imbrou) is an 11 km long canyon located near Hora Sfakion in southern Crete, the Mediterranean island. It runs parallel to Samariá Gorge, its narrowest part has 1.60 m and it ends at the village of Kommitádes (8 km/ 650 m for hiking). The Imbros village (aka Nimbros) is located at an altitude of 780 meters and is at the South end of the fertile plain of Askyfou.

The legend tells that two brothers were banished from Imbros, Turkey and lived in the Imbros village, Crete.

The Imbros Gorge mule trail was the only connection between Chania and Hora Sfakion, before the road was built. Remains of this trail can be still seen. The gorge witnessed an evacuation of several thousands of British soldiers during World War II before heading to Egypt.


  • The entrance fee is €2.50 in 2019.
  • You can pass the gorge all year round except when it's raining or snowing heavily.
  • For those who reach Imbros with their own car, they can leave it there, pass the gorge and return to it with a taxi from Kommitádes or walk through the gorge all the way back again, as it is not so tiring.
  • As one walks downhill 8 km and 650 m, it is something like half of Samariá Gorge. But Samariá Gorge is scree above the river bed, and Imbros Gorge is round scree of the dry creek bed. The Imbros Gorge is strenuous, proper shoes with ankle support should be worn.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imbros Gorge

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Agios Antonios gorge

Agios Antonios gorge

The Gorge of Agios Antonios channels the waters of the nearby mountains towards the Fragma Potamon (= The River Dam), a few kilometers away from Patsos Village. The waters in turn give life to age-old plane trees forming a beautiful “rooftop”.

The sanctity of the place, which remained untouched since the Minoan Era, will stimulate your mind and heart. As you continue down the gorge, you will find terraces with benches to sit, rest, relax and enjoy the environment, as well as areas for picnics with wooden tables and an impromptu barbecue close to an old fountain beside the stream of the river. Ceremonies connected to the Minoan Cult were held in this place thousands of years ago. Deeper into the gorge, you will reach a series of cavities worth seeing. The terrain gets more difficult though, so you should be cautious. If you have the proper equipment and hiking experience, you may be able to reach the River Dam. Back to the start, right at the entrance of the gorge, there is a traditional tavern, called “Drimos”, serving the best of Cretan Cuisine. It is the best way to close the trip.

Agios Antonios gorge

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Frangokastello / Sfakia

Hora Sfakion - Chora Sfakion

The village of Hóra Sfakíon

Monument commemorating the evacuation during WW2 of British and ANZAC forces from Hora Sfakion in May 1941. Click on the left plaque for a closer view

Hóra Sfakíon (Greek: Χώρα Σφακίων) or Sfakia (Σφακιά [sfaˈca]) is a town on the south coast of Crete, Greece. It is the capital of the remote and mountainous region of Sfakiá, and is a small town of just 265 inhabitants (2011 census). It lies on the south coast near the end of the Imbros Gorge, 74 km south of Chania. It has two small harbours, where the ferry boats from Agia Roumeli dock, which in the summer bring the hikers from the Samaria Gorge to take buses back to the northern coast. From Hóra Sfakíon ferries also go to the nearby coastal town of Loutro and the island Gavdos.

Hóra Sfakíon is a small village with a main harbourfront of tavernas, two minimarkets, a butcher, and a bakery. There is a quiet local beach immediately west of the village, and several pebbly beaches nearby. Hóra Sfakíon has a variety of tourist accommodations: rooms, studios, and apartments. The local economy is based on tourism, fishing, olive-oil production, and sheep and goat herding.

Hóra Sfakíon prospered during the Venetian and Turkish occupations and up to the 18th century carried on a flourishing trade with its own small fleet. It was said to have had a hundred churches, but it suffered badly from wartime bombardment during the Battle of Crete and the Allied evacuation that followed.

Hóra Sfakíon is famous as one of the centers of resistance against the occupying forces of both the Venetians and the Turks. The impenetrable White Mountains to the north combined with the rocky beaches on the south helped the locals fight off all invaders. Anopolis, a village near Hóra Sfakíon, is the birthplace of one of the most celebrated Cretan revolutionaries, Daskalogiannis.

Frangokastello (Greek: Φραγκοκάστελλο) is the location of a castle and scattered settlement on the south coast of Crete, Greece, about 12 km (7.5 miles) east of Chora Sfakion and within the prefecture of Chania.

Frangokastello has an extensive, sheltered and gently shelving sandy beach, which has provided the basis for a low key tourist industry in recent years. Tourist accommodation is scattered over the flat plain around the castle, but the area's relative remoteness has discouraged major development.


The castle was built by the Venetians in 1371–1374 as a garrison to impose order on the rebellious Sfakia region, to deter pirates, and to protect Venetian nobles and their properties. The Venetians named it the Castle of St. Nikitas after the nearby church. The locals, however, who never saw it in a positive light, contemptuously dubbed it Frangokastello, meaning the Castle of the Franks (i.e. Catholic foreigners), Castelfranco or Franco Castello. The name eventually stuck and was adopted by the Venetians as well. According to local lore, when soldiers and builders arrived on the fertile plain to begin construction of the castle, the local Sfakians, led by six Patsos brothers from the nearby settlement of Patsianos, would destroy every night what the Venetians built during the day. Eventually, the Venetians were forced to bring in additional troops and the Patsos brothers were betrayed, arrested and hanged.

The castle has a simple rectangular shape, with a tower at each corner and the remains of a Venetian coat of arms above the main gate. The buildings within the walls, as well as the battlements, were constructed during the Ottoman Turkish occupation.

Inside the castle

In 1770, the Cretan rebel Ioannis Vlachos, otherwise known as Daskalogiannis, was captured at Frangokastello by Turkish forces. He was later tortured and executed at Heraklion.

On 17 May 1828 a celebrated battle was fought at Frangokastello. Hundreds of Sfakiots and Epirotes led by Hatzimichalis Dalianis, a Greek patriot from Epirus attempting to spread the Greek War of Independence from the mainland to Crete, occupied the castle, but were besieged by the Turks and massacred. However, many of the Turks were then themselves killed by rebel ambushes launched from the local gorges. According to tradition, around the anniversary of the battle each May, shadows of the armed Cretan and Epirote soldiers who lost their lives there seem to march towards the fortress around dawn. These are called Drosoulites (Greek: Δροσουλίτες), or dew-men, and have been explained as a meteorological phenomenon.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frangokastello / Sfakia

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Argyroupolis springs

Argyroupolis springs

Argiroupolis is a village of Rethymnon, built at 260m a.s.l. Between 2 rivers “Mousselas” and “Petres”. Located 27 kms south west of Rethymnon and 5km from Episkopi vilage.

The Argiroupolis village is famous for the refresing springs and waterfalls. The ancient Romans built baths here due to the natural lush springs and you will find remains of these constructions in the village. There is a path leading around the village to show off the sites of the baths and also you here find shops offering local products like olive-oil soap, face and body creams and lots of mountain herbs.

Below Argiroupolis village where the waterfalls cascade down the hillsides there are several good tavernas. One of the main dishes is barbecued freshly caught trout. It is a treat. But of course also roast lamb and pork and traditional Cretan dishes!

Argyroupolis springs

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Extreme adventure is fast and exciting with a high adrenaline mix of various activities including impressive water slides which offer 2 freefall rides, a black hole, a triple twist, a crazy river, a rainbow multi-slide and 2 giant slides! The Greek water slides park also offers a separate kid’s pool with colorful waterslides and the lazy river (206 meters long)!

The experience is always tasty with a restaurant, a fast food & the pirates bar at the artificial island. Outlets and a mini market offer a variety of goods. A first aid center is always available in the park.

Water Park

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The Aquarium of Crete is part of THALASSOKOSMOS (the building complex of HCMR in Heraklion, Crete), the largest complex for marine research, technology and entertainment in the Mediterranean area, that has established its function and its development of scientific knowledge and discoveries in Marine Science and wants to:

  • be a medium of promoting and popularizing knowledge and innovation generated by the HCMR and the global marine research industry, namely the future of human relations with the sea.
  • offer a unique spectacle that will always fascinate children and adults and to inform, educate and raise the awareness of the public on the diversity of Mediterranean fish species and habitats by visualising the Mediterranean sea life using modern ways and equipment.
  • discover, admire, experience and initiate actions on maritime issues for the decades to come together with the visitor.
  • enhance the eternal relationship between humans and the Mediterranean sea environment and to create incentives and raise questions on the protection and sustainable management of the Mediterranean sea ecosystem.
  • set its individual identity so that it distinguishes from other aquariums, to become unique among the destination options in Crete and to become an alternative entertainment option.
  • be part of the continues research on the behaviour and welfare of sea species that can be adapted in controlled conditions, to have a modern research infrastructure and to ensure excellent access conditions to researchers and young scientists, to be an incubator of innovation.
  • refinance its actions and activities.

Creta Aquarium

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Knossos (also Cnossos, both pronounced /(kə)ˈnɒsɒs, -səs/; Ancient Greek: Κνωσός, romanized: Knōsós, pronounced [knoˈsos]; Linear B: Ko-no-so) is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city.

Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The palace of Knossos eventually became the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1,380–1,100 BC. The reason why is unknown, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward.

In the First Palace Period (around 2,000 BC), the urban area reached a size of as many as 18,000 people. In its peak, the palace and surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1,700 BC.

Discovery and modern history of the antiquities

Main article: Knossos (modern history)

The site of Knossos was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos. The excavations in Knossos began in 1900 by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941) and his team, and continued for 35 years. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B, to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace Evans developed an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan.

Since their discovery, the ruins have undergone a history of their own, from excavation by renowned archaeologists, education, and tourism, to occupation as a headquarters by governments warring over the control of the eastern Mediterranean in two world wars. This site history is to be distinguished from the ancient.

Palace complex

The features of the palace depend on the time period. Currently visible is an accumulation of features over several centuries, the latest most dominant. Thus, the palace was never exactly as depicted today. In addition, it has been reconstituted in modern materials. The custom began in an effort to preserve the site from decay and torrential winter rain. After 1922, the chief proprietor, Arthur Evans, intended to recreate a facsimile based on archaeological evidence. The palace is not exactly as it ever was, perhaps in places, not even close, and yet in general, judging from the work put in and the care taken, as well as parallels with other palaces, it probably is a good general facsimile. Opinions range, however, from most skeptical, viewing the palace as pure fantasy based on 1920s architecture and art deco, to most unquestioning, accepting the final judgements of Arthur Evans as most accurate. The mainstream of opinion falls between.

Knossos / festos

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Agios Nikolaos / Spinaloga

Agios Nikolaos / Spinaloga

Agios Nikolaos, Hagios Nikolaos or Aghios Nikolaos (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος [ˈaʝoz niˈkolaos]) is a coastal town on the Greek island of Crete, lying east of the island's capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia.

In the year 2011, the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, which takes in part of the surrounding villages, claimed 27,074 inhabitants. The town is a municipality of the Crete region and sits partially upon the ruins of the ancient city of Lato pros Kamara.


Agios Nikolaos was settled in the late Bronze Age by Dorian occupants of Lato, at a time when the security of the Lato hillfort became a lesser concern and easy access to the harbour at Agios Nikolaos became more important.[2]

The name Agios Nikolaos means Saint Nicholas. Its stress lies on the second syllable of the word "Nikolaos". Agios Nikolaos or Ayios Nikolaos (alternative romanizations of the Greek Άγιος Νικόλαος) is a common placename in Greece and Cyprus, since Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and of all of Greece.


Lato pros Kamara, the ancient Hagios Nikolaos, has left some limited ruins but an extensive cemetery of Roman times. 6 Near the town there's an archaeological site of ancient Priniatikos Pyrgos. It appears to have been first settled in the Final Neolithic era, circa 3000 BC. Activity on the site continued throughout the Minoan Bronze Age and the Classical Greek and Roman periods, spanning a total of up to 4,000 years. Since 2007, Priniatikos Pyrgos has been undergoing excavation by an international team under the auspices of the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens.



The municipality of Agios Nikolaos was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, which became municipal units:[3]

Agios Nikolaos



The municipality has an area of 511.694 km2 (197.566 sq mi), the municipal unit 317.834 km2 (122.716 sq mi).[4]



Modern Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is probably best known as a tourist town that serves as a hub to the twenty or so small villages and farms that make up that part of Lassithi. Tourist attractions include the small lagoon Lake Voulismeni, small beaches in the town, the tiny island of Agioi Pantes, the archaeological museum, the local flora exhibition “Iris” and numerous fairs.

Just a short ferry ride away from Agios Nikolaos is the island of Spinalonga, an old Venetian fortress turned leper colony in the beginning of the 20th century.[citation needed]

Tourism is mainly West European with Greek tourism concentrated in mid August, though there are a considerable amount of Russian vacationers in East Crete. The lagoon features a small park with a trail, traditional fishing boats, ducks, pigeons, an amphitheatre and many cafès. The modern city of Agios Nikolaos became internationally well known during the 60's, when it was "discovered" by famous cinema directors (Jules Dassin, Walt Disney etc.), BBC producers and many others. It was then that the rapid tourist development of the area started. Among the various productions filmed were He Who Must Die, The Moon-Spinners, and the TV series The Lotus Eaters.

Spinalonga (Greek: Σπιναλόγκα) is an island located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga peninsula ("large Spinalonga") – which often causes confusion as the same name is used for both. The official Greek name of the island today is Kalydon.

During Venetian rule, salt was harvested from salt pans around the island.[citation needed] The island has also been used as a leper colony. Spinalonga has appeared in novels, television series, and a short film.

According to Venetian documents, the name of the island originated in the Greek expression στην Ελούντα stin Elounda (meaning "to Elounda"). The Venetians could not understand the expression so they familiarized it using their own language, and called it spina "thorn" longa "long", an expression that was also maintained by the locals. The Venetians were inspired for this expression by the name of an island near Venice called by the same name and which is known today as the island of Giudecca.[citation needed]


Because of its position the island was fortified from its earliest years in order to protect the entranceway of the port of Ancient Olous.

Arab raids

Olous, and accordingly the wider region, were depopulated at the middle of the 7th century because of the raids of the Arab pirates in the Mediterranean. Olous remained deserted until the mid-15th century when the Venetians began to construct salt-pans in the shallow and salty waters of the gulf. Subsequently, the region acquired commercial value and became inhabited. This, in combination with the emergent Turkish threat, particularly after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, and the continuous pirate raids, forced the Venetians to fortify the island.

Venetian rule

Map of Spinalonga fortress by Francesco Basilicata, 1618.

In 1578 the Venetians charged the engineer Genese Bressani to plan the island's fortifications. He created blockhouses at the highest points of the northern and southern side of the island, as well as a fortification ring along the coast that closed out any hostile disembarkation. In 1579, the Provveditore generale di Candia, Luca Michiel, put the foundation stone of the fortifications, built over the ruins of an acropolis. There are two inscriptions that cite this event, one on the transom of the main gate of the castle and the other on the base of the rampart at the north side of the castle. In 1584, the Venetians, realising that the coastal fortifications were easy to conquer by the enemies attacking from the nearby hills, decided to strengthen their defense by constructing new fortifications at the top of the hill. The Venetian fire would thus have bigger range, rendering Spinalonga an impregnable sea fortress, one of the most important in the Mediterranean basin.

Spinalonga, along with Gramvousa and Souda, remained in Venetian hands even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottomans in the Cretan War (1645–1669) and until 1715, when they fell to the Ottomans during the last Ottoman–Venetian War.[1] These three forts defended Venetian trade routes and were also useful bases in the event of a new Venetian-Turkish war for Crete.[2] Many Christians found refuge in these fortresses to escape persecution from the Ottoman Turks.

Island of Spinalonga

Ottoman rule

Further information: Ottoman Crete

In 1715, the Ottoman Turks captured Spinalonga taking over the last remaining Venetian fortress and removing the last trace of Venetian military presence from the island of Crete.[3]

Cretan revolt

At the end of the Ottoman occupation the island, together with the fort at Ierapetra, was the refuge of many Ottoman families that feared Christian reprisals.[4] After the revolution of 1866 other Ottoman families came to the island from all the region of Mirabello. During the Cretan revolt of 1878, only Spinalonga and the fortress at Ierapetra were not taken by the Christian Cretan insurgents.[5] In 1881 the 1112 Ottomans formed their own community and later, in 1903, the last Turks left the island.

20th-century leper colony

Spinalonga in 1901 by Giuseppe Gerola

Dilapidated houses on the road in the west of the island 1980

The island was subsequently used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. The last inhabitant, a priest, did not leave the island till 1962, in order to maintain the Greek Orthodox tradition of commemorating a buried person 40 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years after their death. There were two entrances to Spinalonga, one being the lepers entrance, a tunnel known as "Dante's Gate". This was so named because the patients did not know what was going to happen to them once they arrived. However, once on the island they received food, water, medical attention and social security payments. Previously, such amenities had been unavailable to Crete's leprosy patients, as they mostly lived in the area's caves, away from civilization.

After the leper colony was dissolved, Spinalonga sank into oblivion; interest in it was revived by the work of people like Maurice Born.[6]

Spinalonga was one of the last active leper colonies in Europe; others that have survived Spinalonga include Tichileşti in eastern Romania, Fontilles in Spain and Talsi in Latvia. As of 2002, few lazarettos remain in Europe.[7]

Spinalonga today

A view of the Venetian fortifications

Today, the uninhabited island is a popular tourist attraction in Crete. In addition to the abandoned leper colony and the fortress, Spinalonga is known for its small pebble beaches and shallow waters. The island can easily be accessed from Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. Tourist boats depart from all three towns on a daily basis (every 30 minutes from Elounda). Since there is no accommodation on Spinalonga, the tours last only a few hours.

Spinalonga is under consideration to become a World Heritage Site.[8][9]

In popular culture

West bank of Spinalonga

Spinalonga featured in the 1977 British television series Who Pays the Ferryman? and Werner Herzog's experimental short film Last Words. It is the (unnamed) setting of Ali Smith's short story The Touching of Wood (in Free Love and Other Stories, 1995). It is also the setting for the 2005 novel The Island by Victoria Hislop, the story of a family's ties to the leper colony; the book was adapted for television in the television series To Nisi by Mega Channel Greece.[10]

The short story "Spinalonga" by John Ware, about a tourist group that visits the island, was included in the 13th Pan Book of Horror.[11]

Agios Nikolaos / Spinaloga

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Arkadi monastery

The Arkadi Monastery (in Greek: / Μονή Αρκαδίου) is an Eastern Orthodox monastery, situated on a fertile plateau 23 km (14 mi) to the southeast of Rethymnon on the island of Crete in Greece.

The current catholicon (church) dates back to the 16th century and is marked by the influence of the Renaissance. This influence is visible in the architecture, which mixes both Roman and baroque elements. As early as the 16th century, the monastery was a place for science and art and had a school and a rich library. Situated on a plateau, the monastery is well fortified, being surrounded by a thick and high wall.

The monastery played an active role in the Cretan resistance of Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt of 1866. 943 Greeks, mostly women and children,[1] sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under orders from the hegumen (abbot) of the monastery, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender.

The monastery became a national sanctuary in honor of the Cretan resistance. 8 November is a day of commemorative parties in Arkadi and Rethymno. The explosion did not end the Cretan insurrection, but it attracted the attention of the rest of the world.


Arkadi Gorge

The Arkadi Monastery is located in the Rethymno regional unit, 25 km southeast of Rethymno. The Monastery is situated on a rectangular plateau on the northwest side of Mount Ida (Crete), at an altitude of 500 m.[2] The Arkadian region is fertile and has vineyards, olive groves and pine, oak and Cyprus forests. The plateau on which the monastery rests is surrounded by hills. The west side of the plateau stops abruptly and falls off into gorges. The gorges start at Tabakaria and lead to Stavromenos, to the east of Rethymno. The Arkadian gorges have a rich diversity of plants and native wildflowers.[3]

The Arkadian Plateau

The area the monastery is located in first developed in antiquity. The presence of Mount Ida (Crete), which is a sacred mountain because it was legendarily the childhood home of Zeus, made the area attractive to early settlers. Five km to the northeast, the city of Eleftherna had its cultural peak in the time of Homer and in classical antiquity, but its influence was also felt in the early Christian and Byzantine periods.

The closest village to the monastery is Amnatos, located three km to the north. The villages that surround Arkadi are rich in Byzantine relics that prove the early wealth of the region. The Moni Arseniou monastery, which is several km north of Arkadi, was also an example of the grand Cretan monasteries.

Arkadi Monastery is in the shape of a nearly rectangular parallelogram. The interior resembles a fortress and is 78.5 metres long on the north wall, 73.5 metres on the south wall, 71.8 metres on the east wall and 67 metres on the west wall. The total area of the monastery is 5200 m².[4]



The Emperor Arcadius, who founded the monastery according to tradition.

The exact date of the founding of the monastery is not precisely known. According to tradition, the foundation of the monastery is sometimes attributed to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and sometimes to the emperor Arcadius in the 5th century. And, according to the second version, the monastery took its name from the name of the emperor. However, in Crete, it is common for monasteries to be named after the monk that founded the building, which lends support to the theory that Arkadi may have been founded by a monk named Arkadios. Other such monasteries are Vrontisiou, Arsiniou and Aretiou.

According to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, the monastery was built on the site of an ancient city, Arcadia. Legend tells that after the destruction of Arcadia, all the springs and fountains stopped flowing until a new city was built.[5][Note 1] However, in 1837, Robert Pashley found evidence to suggest that it was impossible for the monastery to have been built on the ruins of another city,[6] so this idea has lost credence.

In 1951, the professor K. Kalokyris published an inscription dating to the 14th century and verified the hypothesis that a monastery was dedicated to Saint Constantine in this period. The inscription was located on the pediment of a church that predates the current one, over the entrance door. It read:

"The church carrying the name of Arkadi is consecrated to Saint Constantine."[Note 2]


Towards the end of the 16th century, the monastery was subject to restorations and transformations largely headed by Klimis and Vissarion Chortatzis, without a doubt from the family of Hortatzis of Rethymno (a name associated with the Cretan Renaissance) and Georgios Chortatzis, the author of Erofili. Klimis Hortatzis was the hegumen of the abbey and in 1573, he made the monastery cenobitic.

He oversaw the building of the church, which took twenty-five years and was believed to have begun in 1562.[7] In 1586, the façade of the building was built,[8] as were the two naves. An inscription at the base of the clock also dates it back to 1587. This inscription is as following:
or : « 15 Klimis Chortatzis 87 »

Klimis Chortatzis likely died soon after the completion and was not able to attend the inauguration of the new church, which was sometime between 1590 and 1596. This is known thanks to a letter of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Mélétios Pigas, in which he wrote that the inauguration ceremony was entrusted to Klimis's successor, the hegumen Mitrofanis Tsyrigos. Although this letter wasn't dated, one can place it between 1590, when Mélétios Pigas was ordained the Patriarch, and 1596, when the hegumen Nicéphore succeeded Tsygiros.

During the period of the first three hegumens, and up to the beginning of the 17th century, the Arkadi Monastery continued to boom, economically and culturally. The monastery became a great centre for the copying of manuscripts, and although the majority were lost during the destruction of the building by the Ottomans in 1866, some survive in foreign libraries. The monastery grew, with the construction of a stables in 1610 and a refectory in 1670.

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Arkadi monastery

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Preveli Monastery

Preveli (Greek Πρέβελη) is a location on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete, in the Rethymno regional unit, notable for its historic monastery.

Preveli Monastery

Buildings of Preveli Monastery.

Piso (Rear) Preveli Monastery

Kato (Lower) Preveli Monastery

Kato (Lower) Preveli Monastery

The Holy Stavropegiac[1] and Patriarchal Preveli Monastery of St. John the Theologian, known as the Monastery of Preveli, comprises two main building complexes, the ruined Lower Monastery of St. John the Baptist, and the currently operational Upper (Rear) Monastery of St. John the Theologian.

The monastery was probably founded in the Middle Ages, during the occupation of Crete by the Republic of Venice, its founder being a feudal lord named Prevelis. It developed over several centuries as a religious and cultural centre for the local population. After the Ottoman Turkish occupation of the island, Abbot Melchissedek Tsouderos led a group of rebels in the Greek War of Independence in 1821, one result of which was that the monastery was destroyed, but later rebuilt. In 1866 and 1878, the monastery was again active in organising rebellions against the Turks, which helped contribute to Crete's eventual independence and then its political union with Greece.

In the Battle of Crete in 1941, Agathangelos Lagouvardos helped supply British, Australian and New Zealand troops on the island, and provided shelter for them. A group of Australian soldiers protected by the monastery managed to secure their rescue by submarine from the island at Preveli Beach. After this was discovered, the Lower Monastery was destroyed by German forces.

The upper monastery contains numerous religious relics and icons, and many of its buildings, now heavily restored, are open to the public. There are also a number of monuments to the work of the monastery during the Second World War, many of them financed by rescued Australian former soldiers. Among the Allied soldiers to receive shelter and assistance from the monastery of Preveli during WWII was Australian Corporal Geoff Edwards. In commemoration, he settled the seaside hamlet of Margaret River in Western Australia calling it Prevelly.[2] A small producer of premium wines from the Margaret River region also bears the name Preveli.

Preveli Lagoon

WWII memorial

Preveli beach and lagoon before the 2010 fires.

Preveli beach and lagoon in 2014

Preveli beach and lagoon (Greek Λίμνη του Πρέβελη), sometimes known locally as "Palm Beach", is located below the monastery, at the mouth of the Kourtaliótiko gorge. Behind the beach is an extensive glade of palm trees. The beach is regularly served by tourist boats from the nearby resort of Plakias. On August 22, 2010, a large proportion of the palm grove was destroyed in a fire but by 2011 had totally and rapidly naturally re-generated .[3][4] There are many positive signs that P. theophrasti not only is able generally to re-generate successfully but the oldest and youngest palms of this palm forest, too, were totally re-generated by the summer of 2011.

Preveli monastery

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German War Cemetery

More than 15000 German soldiers lost their lives during the Second World War in the Greek territory. The German military cemetery in Maleme (Deutschen Soldatenfriedhof in Maleme) is one of the two cemeteries in Greece where the graves of German soldiers are. The other cemetery is the German military cemetery Dionysus - Rapentozis in Attica.

The German cemetery is near Maleme airport on the north coast of Crete, 20 km western of Chania city and one kilometer above the village of Maleme. From here one can see far into the deep blue bay of Chania. Towards the west olive orchards line the hillsides all the way down to the winding Tavronitis river. Far beyond one can see the outline of the Monastery of Gonia. In the south the “White Mountains” Range rises up to 2.450 m. The basic idea of the memorial was to design the graveyard for the fallen soldiers according to the four main battle grounds of Maleme, Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion.

The cemetery was founded in 1974 by the former German commander Gericke. At this area are buried 4.465 German soldiers who lost their lives in the island of Crete most of them were paratroopers who died during the invasion.

The care of the cemetery is done by the “The German Graves Commission” (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge eV), a private association based in Kassel, ordered by the German government. The association has taken care of such cemeteries across the world.

German Cemetery

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The Suda Bay War Cemetery is a military cemetery administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. It contains burials from both World War I and especially World War II. It was designed by architect Louis de Soissons. Among those buried there are John Pendlebury and Dudley Perkins.

Allies cemetery

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War museum / Askyfou

War museum / Askyfou

Georgios A. Hatzidakis was born into a mountain village in Sfakia (Askyfou) on December 12, 1931, as a child of a large family, and died on December 12, 2007. As a ten-year-old boy, he eyewitnessed the German invasion of Crete and experienced the horrible Face of war with death and destruction.

His family's home was one of thousands destroyed by the merciless bombardment of the enemy. He himself was severely injured and retained a large scar on his forehead, but much more hit him the loss of his younger sister, who was killed in the attacks. Even worse than the physical ones were the mental scars that, like innumerable other innocent children of the war, were to remind him of these bloody events for a lifetime.

The survivors of his family and he himself were able to flee then and found refuge a few miles further in a village in Apokoronas (Georgioupolis). The war and its aftermath were a bitter experience, making clear to him the futility of the clashes. At the same time, as a true Cretan, he was proud of how his compatriots bravely defended their homeland until the end of the war against any resistance and thus achieved a little immortality.

So he began his passion to gather all traces of the battle for his homeland, to keep the glorious memory of his ancestors alive and to encourage the younger ones to deal with their history. The collection currently comprises more than 2,000 objects over the period 1940-1944 and continues to grow thanks to the persistent efforts of his son Andreas G. Hatzidakis, who hopes to preserve a dignified commemoration of his ancestors.

War museum / Askyfou

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Matala, Crete

View of town

Matala (Greek: Μάταλα) is a village located 75 km south-west of Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Matala is part of the community of Pitsidia within the municipal unit of Tympaki, Faistos municipality, Heraklion regional unit.


The caves of Matala.

Southern part of the beach

The artificial caves in the cliff of the Matala bay were created in the Neolithic Age. Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period. In the year 220 BC, Matala was occupied by the Gortynians, and during the Roman period, Matala became the port of Gortys. It has been suggested that the caves were once used as tombs, but it is more likely that they were used as living spaces, given their volume (corpses do not need that much room to walk around). One of the caves is called "Brutospeliana" because according to the legend it was frequented by the Roman general Brutus.

Matala was then a fishing village. In the 1960s, the caves were occupied by hippies[1] who were later driven out by the church and the military junta. Matala is now a heavily overbuilt tourist destination relying on coach tours and summer visitors. There are many gift shops and bars. Matala's hippie history relives during the 3 days Matala Beach Festival, every June (since 2011).[2]


When Zeus seduced the princess Europa in the form of a white bull, he crossed the sea and brought her to the beach of Matala. There he changed into an eagle and flew her to Gortys where he had sex with her.

In popular culture

  • In Command & Conquer: Generals Zero Hour, the USS Ronald Reagan, along with the carrier support group docked in Matala and the naval base on the island, is destroyed by GLA forces .

    In Simon Scarrow's historical adventure novel, The Gladiator, the protagonists beach their damaged ship just outside Matala after it is damaged by a tsunami.

    Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell's experiences with the Matala hippies and were immortalised in her 1971 songs "Carey" and "California", from her album "Blue". She would spend weeks at a time living in the Matala caves during the summer of 1969.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Matala beach

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View of Plakias bay

Plakias and Sellia

Plakias beach

Plakias (Greek: Πλακιάς) is a village on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete, in the Rethymno regional unit, about 21 kilometres south of the city of Rethymno. It is part of the municipality Agios Vasileios, and of the municipal unit Foinikas. It is surrounded by mountains to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south. The name in Greek means "flat", because the town stands on an alluvial fan of material that has washed down the Kotsifou gorge directly to the north . This material has formed along the sea's edge into a long, fine, gold-hued sand beach, which shelves very gradually out into the bay, making it quite safe for swimming and hence, for family holidays.

Initially just a fishing jetty and a few houses, Plakias developed during the last few decades into a tourist resort. The first official mention of Plakias was in 1961, when it was recorded in a census as the permanent home of six fishermen. The recorded history of surrounding mountain villages like Myrthios and Sellia goes back to the 10th century, when the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (961 AD) built roads and bridges in order to link those villages, and there are some fragments of wall remaining from a fortified area on a hill top just northeast of the present main town. The local area is geographically suitable for a settlement, having plenty of agricultural space, and there may well have been a settlement there since Minoan times.

Plakias has a 1300-metre-long sandy beach and there are several other beaches within walking distance (Souda, Damnoni, Ammoudi, and Skhinaria). The southeastern end of the beach, near the Kakomouri headland, is used by nudists. The town is not on any major passage for traffic and hence traffic is minimal and it is quieter and less dusty than many other Greek resorts.

Parking along the main town road is difficult in the high season, but there is a large free-parking area just east of the main town. There are plenty of places to eat along the sea front, with the biggest cluster of tavernas at the west end. 8 kilometers to the east is the historic monastery of Preveli, which may have been founded as early as the 10th century. Due to its isolated position, it has played an important role in Cretan revolts against occupying forces such as the Nazis in World War II. Plakias is home to the "Youth Hostel Plakias", set in olive groves behind the town, which is famous among international backpackers as the 'most southerly hostel' in Europe. Also well-known are the cafes "Nufaro", (known locally as "Joe's bar") and the bars "Ostraco" and "Cozy Backyard". "World International Tourism Day" is celebrated each September with a big evening festival, with a free buffet meal and free traditional music, songs, and dancing performances in the main square.

There are two roads leading to Plakias through the mountain range that lies to the north, both of which run through spectacular gorges—to the north of Plakias, the Kotsifos Gorge, and to the northeast, the Kourtaliotiko Gorge. A good coastal motor track runs west beyond Souda to Rodakino beach, Frangokastello and Sfakiá. There are plenty of walks locally, and bolder walkers will enjoy the high green countryside beyond the coastal mountain range north of town. Mountain biking and cycle touring are other local attractions.

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Plakias beach

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Elafonisi beach


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Not to be confused with Elafonisos in Peloponnese.

‹ The template Infobox islands is being considered for merging. ›

ElafonisiNative name:


Southeastern coast of Elafonisi



Coordinates35.27°N 23.532°ECoordinates: 35.27°N 23.532°E

ArchipelagoCretan Islands

Area1.5 km2 (0.58 sq mi)




Regional unitChania


Population0 (2001)

Additional information

Vehicle registrationΧΝ

Elafonisi (Greek: Ελαφονήσι [elafoˈnisi] "deer island") is an island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean island of Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania. When the weather is fine it is possible to walk to the island through the shallow water. The island is a protected nature reserve. It is known for its pink sand beaches, created by tidal and wave-induced deposits of pigmented microorganisms living in a symbiotic relationship with native seaweed.

Greek War of Independence

At the highest point on the island there is a plaque that commemorates a tragic event. On Easter Sunday of 18 April 1824 several hundred Greeks, mostly women and children, were killed on Elafonisi by Ottoman soldiers. To avoid advancing Turkish Ottoman troops, forty armed men had taken refuge on the island with women, children and old folk where they were waiting for a ship to take them to the Ionian Islands. The Ottoman soldiers had decided to camp on the beach opposite the island. One of their horses walked along the shallow water to the island and the people hiding on the island were discovered. According to several sources there were between 640 and 850 people in total, most of whom were killed and the remaining survivors were sold into slavery in Egypt.[1][2][3]

Shipwreck of the Imperatrix

A large wooden cross commemorates a shipwreck from 22 February 1907. It was an Österreichischer Lloyd passenger steamer, called the Imperatrix. Due to strong northwest winds 38 people died in a lifeboat that tried to reach the shore. They were all buried on the island. The Imperatrix still lies on the seabed in front of the island's cliffs and was the reason that a lighthouse was built on an island hilltop.[4]

The lighthouse was destroyed during the Second World War by the occupying German troops.[5]


On the mainland the 17th century Chrysoskalitissa Monastery is approximately 5 km (3.1 miles) from the island.


  • Elafonisi beach

  • Elafonisi island in the distance from the coast of Crete.

  • Chrysoskalitissa monastery.

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Elafonisi beach

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Gramvousa Balos beach

Imeri GramvousaNative name:

Ημερη Γραμβούσα

Imeri Gramvousa


Coordinates35°36′40″N 23°34′45″E

ArchipelagoCretan Islands




Regional unitChania



‹ The template Infobox islands is being considered for merging. ›

Agria GramvousaNative name:

Αγρια Γραμβούσα

Agria Gramvousa


Coordinates35°38′30″N 23°35′10″E

ArchipelagoCretan Islands




Regional unitChania



Gramvousa also Grampousa (Greek: Γραμβούσα or Γραμπούσα, further names include Akra, Cavo Buso, Cavo Bouza, Garabusa and Grabusa) refers to two small uninhabited islands off the coast of a peninsula also known Gramvousa Peninsula (Greek: Χερσόνησος Γραμβούσας) in north-western Crete in the regional unit of Chania.[1] The Gramvousa Peninsula forms the westernmost of the two pairs of peninsulae in north-western Crete (the other being Rodopos Peninsula) and is the western part of Kissamos Bay.

The Gramvousa islands are administered by the municipality of Kissamos.


Imeri Gramvousa (Greek: Ήμερη Γραμβούσα), which translates to Tame Gramvousa, hosts the remains of a Venetian fort and the remains of buildings left behind by Cretan insurgents, who were compelled to live as pirates during the Greek War of Independence. Today, Imeri Gramvousa is a popular tourist attraction.

Agria Gramvousa (Greek: Άγρια Γραμβούσα), which translates to Wild Gramvousa, is much less hospitable and is located due north of Imeri Gramvousa. It has also been named False Gramvousa.[2]

In ancient times the larger island was known as Korykos,[3] which means leather bag.[4] The island was name "Gramvousa" in honour of Vousa, the wife of a pirate chief and the only inhabitant of the island to evade capture when the pirates were forcibly removed.[3]

Ottoman–Venetian Wars

Imeri Gramvousa map by Basilicata

The walls of the fort at Imeri Gramvousa

The fort at Imeri Gramvousa was built between 1579 and 1584 during Venetian rule over Crete to defend the island from the Ottoman Turks. The fort remained in Venetian hands throughout the prolonged Cretan War, and in the treaty of 16 September 1669, which surrendered Crete to the Ottomans, Gramvousa, along with the fortresses of Souda and Spinalonga, was retained by Venice.[5] These three forts defended Venetian trade routes and were also strategic bases in the event of a new Ottoman–Venetian war for Crete.[6]

On 6 December 1691, during the Morean War (another Ottoman–Venetian war), the Neapolitan Captain de la Giocca[verification needed] betrayed the Venetians by surrendering Gramvousa to the Ottoman Turks for a generous bribe. He lived the rest of his life in Constantinople and was well known by the nickname "Captain Grambousas".[6] Not long after the start of Turkish rule, Cretan insurgents used to gather at the three coastal forts which included Gramvousa.[7]

Greek War of Independence

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, the fort fell to the insurgents' hands. In 1823, Emmanouil Tombazis, the Greek provisional government's commissioner for Crete, failed to strengthen the defences at Gramvousa when he had the opportunity, soon after his arrival on the island.[8]

Towards the summer of 1825, a body of three to four hundred Cretans, who had fought with other Greeks in the Peloponnese, journeyed to Crete. On 9 August 1825, led by Dimitrios Kallergis and Emmanouil Antoniadis, this group of Cretans, disguised as Turks, captured the fort at Gramvousa, which became their base. These and subsequent actions revitalized the Cretan insurgency, ushering the so-called "Gramvousa period".[9]

Although the Ottomans did not manage to retake the fort, they were successful in blocking the spread of the insurgency to the islands' western provinces. The insurgents were besieged in Gramvousa for more than two years and they had to resort to piracy to survive. Gramvousa became a hive of piratical activity that greatly affected Turkish-Egyptian and European shipping in the region. During that period the population of Gramvousa became organised and they built a school[10] and a church. The church was called Panagia i Kleftrina and was dedicated to the wives of the klephts, namely the pirates.[11]

In 1828, the new Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, sent Alexander Mavrocordatos with British and French ships to Crete to deal with the pirates. This expedition resulted in the destruction of all pirate ships at Gramvousa and the fort came under British control.[11] On 5 January 1828, on Kapodistrias' orders Hatzimichalis Dalianis landed at Gramvousa with 700 men.[11]

During the Cretan revolt of 1878, only the forts at Gramvousa, Ierapetra, Spinalonga, Heraklion, Rethymnon, Izeddin, Hania, and Kissamos could not be captured by the insurgents because they did not have the necessary artillery.[12]

Balos Lagoon

There is a lagoon, named the Balos lagoon, between the island and the coast of Crete. There is an islet which forms part of a cape, through the lagoon, called Cape Tigani (which means "frying pan" in Greek). North of Balos, at the Korykon cape, are the ruins of the small ancient Roman city of Agnion, with a temple to the god Apollo.

Sunset at the Balos Lagoon with Cape Tigani in the center, Pondikonisi in the background to the left, the island of Imeri Gramvousa in the background to the right, and further back to the right is the island of Agria Gramvousa (panoramic photograph taken from the island of Crete).

Image gallery

  • Balos Lagoon with Cape Tigani to the right

  • Imeri and Agria Gramvousa

  • View of Balos Lagoon from the Gramvousa Fort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Balos beach

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Marathi beach

Marathi beach is a small cove about 14 km east of Chania Town. Marathi beach has crystal water and is protected by strong winds.

Marathi beach is well organized & popular among the locals. It has very shallow water so it is ideal for families and kids.

Across the beach, you will find local food taverns that allso serve fresh fish.

Marathi beach

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