The Samaria Gorge is one of the longest ravines in Europe (with a total length of 16 km) and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. Its width ranges from 150 m (widest part) to 3 m (narrowest part). The walk from Xyloskalo in the plateau of Omalos to the shores of Libyan sea at Agia Roumeli, takes 6 to 8 hours. The Samaria Gorge has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna. It is one of the last shelters of the mountain goat of Crete (Cretan Ibex, common name : kri-kri). The flora is extensive, ranging from high cypress trees to flowers and herbs. The walking path follows the river which flows to small lakes and waterfalls. The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October.
Hania (or Chania GR: Χανιά) is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants. It lies (Coordinates 35°31' N 24°1' E ) along the North coast of the island, about 55 km west of Rethymnon and 140 km west of Iraklion (Heraklion). Hania's old town (although it was heavily bombed by Germans in World War II) is considered as Crete's most beautiful urban district, especially the Venetian harbour with its 16th century lighthouse and the Mosque of the Janissaries ("Giali Tzamissi", built 17th century). Many of the old buildings have been restored as hotels, restaurants, shops and bars, making the old town a lively and colourful place, especially during the tourist period.
West of Kissamos and north of the beautiful village of Kaliviani, stretches the impressive Gramvoussa peninsula. The peninsula is formed by steep rocks and is covered with thyme and origanum bushes and wild flowers. On the north west side of the peninsula opposite to the island of Gramvoussa is the wonderful beach of Balos (GR: Μπάλος). The beach is covered with fine white sand and is located between the two creeks of the Tigani cape. The same white sand covers the bottom of the sea and grants to the sea an emerald color. In front of the beach is the picturesque island of Gramvoussa and on the back is the Geroskinos mountain (altitude 762 m). The road from Kaliviani is well paved dirt road, with amazing view to the steep rocky seaside of the east side of the peninsula. The road ends one-two km before the beach, and the visitor can follow a paved road to Balos. North of Balos, at the Korykon cape, are the ruins of the small Roman city of Agnion, with a temple of the God Apollo. There are small boats, offering daily cruises to Balos and Gramvoussa, departing from Kissamos (Kastelli) during the summertime.
The museum is housed in the katholikon of the Venetian monastery of St. Francis. During the period of the Turkish occupation it was the Muslim mosque of Yussuf Pasha, while in modern times it was used as a cinema or a storehouse for military equipment. Since 1963 it has been functioning as the Archaeological Museum of the city. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum houses temporary exhibitions in the frame of certain local events 25 Chalidon Str., tel. +30821 90334 It contains impressive finds from the excavations of the ancient city of Kydonia, from Idramia, Aptera, Polyrinia, Kissamos, Elyros, Irtakina, Syia, Lissos, Chania, Axos, and Lappa.
On the south coast of Crete, on a magnificent white sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortresses, Fragokastello, built in 1371. It is located approximately 170 km from Iraklion, 70 km from Rethimnon, and 70 Km from Hania. Today, Fragokastello is a small, but developing, community, with nice beaches covered in sand dunes, and limited, but increasing, tourist facilities.The Villages Patsianos and Kalikratis, the castle, the history of the place and the fenomenon of Drossoulites...
Due to its strategic location, Gramvoussa was fortified by the Venetians, who built a well-fortified castle on the top of a steepy rock at an altitude of 137 m. Construction on the castle of Gramvoussa started in 1579 and ended in 1582.
Chania lighthouse, the jewel of the city, is one of the oldest light houses, not only in Greece and the Mediterranean, but also in the world. The lighthouse (Faros GR: Φάρος) is a major attraction in the old port of Chania especially at night when it's lit up. The tower is 21m high and is built on a stone base, located at the end of the old harbour's pier opposite to the fortress of "Firkas". Visitors are not allowed to enter the tower. Chania lighthouse was first constructed by the Venetians around 1595 - 1601, and it took its final form, in the shape of a minaret, during the Egyptian Period (1831 - 1841) in around 1839. After the latest restoration, completed in 2006, it was given the formation of the Venetian period. The minaret look is still evident however.
At the magical and historical location of Profitis Ilias, in Akrotiri, at the east of Hania lays the tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos, one of the most long-standing prime ministers of Greece and whose political life was focused on doubling the size of Greek territory and on the creation of a contemporary State. Eleftherios Venizelos himself had designated this position to be his resting place before his death. For the visitor, it affords a panoramic view of the rich green plain of Hania, the imposing White Mountains, the Cretan Sea, the town of Hania and the Chalepa quarter which is the location of the house in which the great politician spent most of his life and today is the headquarters of the National Research Foundation 'Eleftherios K. Venizelos'.
One of the most important city - states of Crete. The first epigraphic occurence of its name (A-pa-ta-wa) is found in the Linear B tablets found at Knossos. (14th - 13th century B.C.). The history of the city is continued through the centuries untill the 7th century A.D. when a major earthquake destoyed it. Its ideal location, allowed the city to control the naval activity in the bay of Souda, and was determinative for its development in an important commercial center. The era of the city's greatest peak was the early Hellenistic period (late 4th - 3rd century B.C.). At that time Aptera experienced an economical and political floruit, begins to mint its own coins and develops diplomatic relations with important centres of the Hellenistic world.
During the period of Roman occupation it appears to have developed a more rural character. Habitation at the site continued into the early byzantine period. After the 7th century destruction in the central area of the city was established the monastery of Saint John the Theologian (Agios Ioannis o Theologos), firstly mentioned in 12th century texts. The most important monuments of the site are: Roman cisterns. Bipartite temple, known as the "bipartite sanctuary", dated to the 5th-4th century B.C. Graves of the Geometric-Roman periods. The fortification wall, preserved to a length of almost 4 kilometres. Part of a Roman bouleuterion. Byzantine buildings. Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos. Turkish fortress built in 1866-1869. Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Located ~2.3km west of Sougia it was the religious centre of the cities in south-west Crete and the port of Elyros. It flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In 1957-58 Asklepieion was excavated by N. Platon. The most important monuments of the site are: The Temple of Asklepios, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Part of a Roman theatre, Rock-cut and built chamber tombs. There two byzantine chapels dedicated to Our Lady and Agios Kirikos The beach in the small cove has coarse pebbles and clear waters. Lissos (GR: Λισσός) nowadays is uninhabited and can be reached from Sougia only by foot (~1& 1/2 hours walk) or by boat (~20 minutes).