Agia Roumeli - Much more than just the end of
the Samaria gorge
Agia Roumeli is a small town in southwest Crete. A few km above the town is the end of the Samaria Gorge, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Crete.
Find out about the beauty of the cretan prefecture of Chania or Hania during your holidays to Greece. Steep mountains, wooded slopes, ravines and gorges, dense vegetation, running streams, picturesque coves and vast beaches will fascinate the visitor.
Agia Marina Agia Marina is a small, fully organized resort on the northern coast, some 9 km from the city of Chania on the road to Kasteli.
Named after the church which is located on the small hill of the old village, Agia Marina is set within lush vegetation; endless olive and orange groves, all kinds of fruit-bearing trees and a limpid seashore. The fine golden-pink sand and the trees along the beach create an exotic setting. Looking north and 400 meters out at sea, is the island of Agii Theodori.
Very close to the beach, is the old village of Pano Agia Marina (upper Agia Marina) with lovely traditional Cretan houses and hospitable restaurants serving original Cretan dishes in a traditional atmosphere. There is also a cave (water cave) of unknown length, which became an issue of study for archaeologists and speleologists from all over the world.
Agia Marina caters mainly for the package holiday market and lacks a Cretan atmosphere. The old part of the village located on a hill still retains its Cretan charm though. Agia Marina consists almost only of hotels and apartments of all categories, many of which can only be booked through agents though. You will also find a bank, a drugstore, many shops, gas stations, hotels, rooms for rent, restaurants, tavernas, car rental, cafes, bars, clubs, discos, travel agencies, jeweleries, water sports, camping and many other tourist enterprises.
There are plenty of restaurants to cater the large number of visitors and many good nightlife options in Agia Marina and in neighbouring Platanias which is only a short walk away. The long sandy beach is a little exposed to north winds (currents can be quite strong) and has good facilities and water sports. There are several pleasant beach bars and small tavernas with sea view.
Agia Roumeli is a small town in southwest Crete. A few km above the town is the end of the Samaria Gorge, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Crete.
Agia Roumeli has a large beach and a ferry slipway where the ferry to and from Chora Sfakion via Loutro arrives, mainly used by hikers who have completed the Samaria walk. There are also rooms for rent, a few bars and some traditional restaurants.
Every summer, thousands of people pass through the village after completing the long walk through the Samaria Gorge. Anyone who has done this walk knows that this spectacular experience in nature combined with sore feet and exhaustion are a little too much.
Agia Roumeli becomes merely the place where you can get some refreshments while you wait for the ferry to take you back to a tour bus which will bring you to your departure point.Agia Roumeli is so much more; it is a very special and unique place with a genuine Cretan background. It has strong character and is surrounded by breathtaking, wild mountains and a long pebble beach by the clear Libyan sea.
The surroundings are so peaceful that there is a chance you might actually forget about the outside world. Watching the stars is quite an experience here. The hospitality of the locals and the quality of the food they prepare is extraordinary.
The village is remote and a little isolated since it can be reached only on foot or by boat. There are no roads, no nightlife and no entertainment. Once the last boat has left, the village becomes a restful, calm community between wild mountains and the deep, blue sea.
However, anyone who can relate to nature can find plenty to do besides enjoying the almost deserted beaches. The village is situated in one of the wildest regions of Crete and you could spend weeks exploring it on foot.
The rich history of Crete has also left many traces in this region and there are several theories regarding the name of the village. Most probably it is traceable to the Arabic words aia = water and rumeli = Greek. So Agia Roumeli would mean Greek water.
Close to the new village there is a Byzantine church, "tis Panagias" (the Holy Mother) built where there originally was a temple of Apollo and Vritomartis (Artemis).
The ancient site of Tarra was located on the eastern side of the river. Tarra was a small but strong, independent city. It was significant enough to mint its own money. The coins had the Cretan wild goat with an arrow on one side and a bee on the other side. Tarra also established colonies in the South of Italy and in the Caucasus.
Several excavations were made and many interesting finds are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Chania.
Gavdos is a tiny island in the middle of the Libyan Sea, located 26 nautical miles south from Chora Sfakion. With a permanent population of approximately 60 inhabitants, Gavdos, a stunning combination of rocks, dunes and pristine beaches, becomes the place myth for the traveler.
Far from what is considered a technologically advanced world, with a rich and exciting history, landscape and culture, the island attracts more and more visitors who seek authenticity, spontaneity and a contact with nature and people.
Belonging to the prefecture of Chania, it forms a community with surrounding islets and is part of the province of Selino.
It is of triangular shape, with an area of 27 km². Its terrain is plain and semi-rocky and the climate subtropical, with few rain showers.
Gavdos is Greece’s southernmost island and the southernmost point in Europe is the headland Tripiti (north 34°48'07" east 24°07'35"), which presents a beautiful composition of arcades diving into the sea.
There is archaeological evidence that the Roman Empire was active on the island. During this time the flora of the island was overexploited which started a process of erosion continuing to this very day.er, at the time of the Byzantine Empire, the island had some 8,000 inhabitants (900-1000 AD) and supported 3 bishops and an archbishop.
During the Turkish Empire's reign on the island, which lasted from 1665 up until 1895, Gavdos was known as Gondzo. During this period the population decreased considerably to only 500 inhabitants by 1882. A reference to Saracens on the island survives - a beach is named Sarakiniko (Greek = of the Saracens).
In the 30's the island was used as a place of exile of communists; more than 250 people were exiled including leading figures of the Greek movement, such as Markos Vafiadis. Later on, the general phase of urbanization that started in other parts of Greece in the 60's, took place in the 50's on Gavdos. During that period the islanders exchanged their land on Gavdos with ex-Turkish land on Crete, which had now become exchangeable via the state. Upon settling in Crete they created a community known as Gavdiotika.
Following years of isolation, in 1996 the island came to media prominence. In a NATO exercise Gavdos was the focal point of a contestation between Greece and Turkey.
Nowadays there are only a small number of year-round residents and services for tourists are still pretty basic. As in 2001, the total population of Gavdos was measured as 98 people. The truth is that fewer than 60 people live on the island permanently, but during the census period which lasted 2 days, 98 people were on the island. In the summer the number may reach over 3500, most of which are campers.
The harbor for irregular ferries is Karave and the island's capital is Kastri. The southernmost populated village is Vatsiana with a total permanent population of 2 people.
Today, apart from the harbor Karave, there are three villages on the islet: Kastri (the capital), Vatsiana and Ambelos.vdos is a low, sandy island wooded with pine trees and cedars. The island is filled with superb sandy beaches such as Sarakiniko, Agios Ioannis, Potamos, Lavrakas, Tripiti and the pebble beach of Korfos, all of which have recently been awarded with the "Golden Starfish".
Gavdos has more then 3000 sunny hours a year. The temperatures may reach over 40 degrees Celsius in the summer and there are not many possibilities to escape the powerful sun. So don’t forget to take sunglasses, a hat and a strong sun screen.
Bear in mind that tourist facilities and bus connections are quite basic. Gavdos is a very popular place for camping and hiking. So make sure to take a good pair of walking shoes along. Also useful for a stay of some days would be a pocket lamp, knife and fork, solar recharging system if you are using electronic equipment, first aid (your medicine), and a compass.
If you plan on visiting Gavdos only on a day trip (arriving at lunch and leaving in the afternoon), you could see either Sarakiniko or Korfos Beach for a swim. Of course you can also stay on the small beach close to Karave.
If you are staying overnight you can plan a very nice trip to the southern point of Europe: Cape Tripiti. You will have to leave Korfos early in the morning around 8:00 - 8:30 and walk directly from the beach in southern direction. Starting from Sarakiniko or Karave you will have to start 45 minutes earlier.
Georgioupoli or Georgioupolis (translates into Georgetown) is a village and resort in the region of Apokoronas, 43 km east of the city of Chania and 22 km west of the city of Rethymnon. It was named after Prince George of Greece, the high commissioner of the island during the last years of the Ottoman occupation.
Georgioupoli is found at the apex of the Almiros Bay on the Cretan Sea, with Cape Drapano and its rocky coast to the north and the long sandy beaches towards Rethymnon in the east. Three rivers meet the sea at the village; the largest, Almiros, creates a small harbour for fishing and tourist boats. The entrance to the village on the old road from Vrisses is a long avenue of eucalyptus trees.
Formerly a small fishing village, Georgioupoli is very much a tourist town now, with many cafés, tavernas and small hotels and apartment blocks. The town square is surrounded by outdoor seating used by tourists enjoying their drinks and ice creams.
Archaeological evidence points to Georgioupoli as the site of ancient Amphimalla (Amfimala or Amfimalion), the port of Lappa, a classical city at modern Argiroupoli.
Georgioupoli, with its 600 residents, is the largest village of a municipality of the same name, covering several other villages inland as far as Kournas.e 9 km beach is the main attraction of the area, with Kalyvaki beach on the other side of the river as well. Nearby Lake Kournas is also a popular excursion on foot, bicycle or tourist 'train'. Georgioupoli is a well-located base for exploring the traditional villages of the area towards Vamos or into the White Mountains to the south.
Georgioupoli is a city that emerged from a marsh. In the 19th century the region was a marsh area; the source of a terrible malaria epidemic that killed the residents of the around regions. In 1880, a tradesman from Athens reached this deserted land. He conceives the value of the region and decides to drain the marsh by planting Eucalyptus and hundreds of other trees in order to cultivate the land. Little by little the region starts to attract new residents and around 1893 a town with the name of Almyroupoli emerges. In 1899, with the arrival of the Commissioner Prince Georgios, the town is renamed into Georgioupoli.
Loutro - Years ago still the paragon of solitude; with its handful of houses, some archaeological ruins, small hotels and tavernas, Loutro has remained a picturesque spot in spite of the meanwhile overall reservation possibilities.
Attainable only by boat or hike, tourism has also come here, but Loutro still offers enough peace for a few days of relaxation. The climax of the day is the pier manoeuvre of the ferry to Agia Roumeli on the narrow gravel beach.
In the surroundings of the former insider tip Loutro, the destinations for more or less extended excursions are plentiful. Whether to the neighbouring bays, up to Anopolis, by the Aradena ravine or up to the exit of the Samaria Gorge at Agia Roumeli: like in all places in the southwest, numerous tour possibilities arise in the rocky landscape.
Paleochora is a small town on the southwest coast of the Chania prefecture, some 77 km from the city of Chania, making it the south-easternmost geographical position of the European Community.
It is built on a small peninsula of 400 m width and 700 m length which has beaches on both sides and the steep mountain slopes of the White Mountains in the back, forming a natural protection against the South winds. The Libyan Sea wets its coasts of 11 km length.
It seems that nature and man have lived here in a mystical union throughout the ages. The beautiful landscapes, the abundant wild life, the vivid history, the fantastic seascapes and the pleasant climate, blend in with the contemporary life of quaint hotels and rent rooms, picturesque and traditional coffee shops, open-air summer theatres, discos and modern cafeterias, creating a memorable sensation to the visitor as he descends south, from Chania to Paleochora.
Paleochora’s economy is based on tourism and agriculture (mainly tomatoes cultivated in glass-houses and olive-oil). It has been a relaxing holiday place since the early 70’s, when it was a renowned hippies’ centre.
Paleochora is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Kalamydi and the larger area is rich in medieval Byzantine memorials. There are many small Byzantine chapels with interesting and rare wall paintings as well as the remains of early Christian churches.
In 1278 the Venetian general Marinos Gradengos had the historical castle of Selino built on an elevation overlooking the Lybian Sea. This memorial of the Venetian era - named the Fortezza, remains today behind the village of Paleohora. The fort gave its name to the whole province, which was renamed from Orina to Selino. The fort was destroyed in 1332 and rebuilt in 1334. Underneath the fort, the Venetians founded a new settlement named Vourgos for workers and merchants. The pirate Barbarossa destroyed the fort in 1539, but later in 1595 Dolf revamped it. In 1645 the Turk conquerors, modified and adjusted the fort to their needs. In 1834 an English traveller named Robert Pashley found the fort completely destroyed and the whole area uninhabited with only a granary and one or two small buildings left. The re-inhabitation of the town known today as Paleochora began in 1866.
During the Battle of Crete the town was the scene of fighting between motorcycle-riding troops of the German 95th Reconnaissance Battalion and the Eighth Greek Regiment (Provisional) with elements of the Cretan Gendarmerie.
Nowadays Paleochora is one of the fastest growing tourist towns in Crete with crystal clear waters, well-organized pebble beaches and beautiful, isolated little anchorages. Its population of 1.500 inhabitants expands to 10.000 in the summer. Visitors will find many hotels, restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and nightclubs.
Paleochora has all the facilities like bank branches, post office, central telephone office, health centre, doctors, dentists, pharmacies, police station, coast guard and customs office and all kinds of stores.
Platanias - The resort of Platanias has successfully retained its individual charme and hospitality whilst developing into a popular, cosmopolitan holiday destination with a wide range of hotals, rooms, tavernas, shops, bars and restaurants; a bustling centre full of activity and entertainment
Sfakia is a beautiful, traditional, mountainous area in the southwest part of Crete, in the Chania prefecture.
It is considered one of the few places in Greece to never have been fully occupied by foreign powers. There are many beaches in Sfakia which do not see the numbers of tourists
Chora Sfakion (commonly called Sfakia) is a characteristic traditional village of about 300 inhabitants.
Shepherds can still be seen in local dress and you can hear strains of traditional rhyming couplets "mandinades" sung by village men.
Sougia is a small village located by the Libyan sea, some 75 km south from the city of Chania.
Maybe the narrow winding road which links the village to the north of Crete puts off tour operators from offering package holidays there.