Places to visit in the prefecture
- Samaria Gorge
- Imbros Gorge
- Hora Sfakion
- Agia Roumeli
- Vrisses Village
- Kournas Lake
The Gorge of Samaria
Deep in the heart of the white Mountains in western Crete lies the plateau of Omalos and the beginning of the Samaria Gorge. The entrance to the gorge at Hyloskalo is 1,200 meters above sea level and the exit is 2km inland from the village of Agia Roumeli on the coast of the Lybian Sea, a walk of 18kms. The gorge forms part the National Park of Samaria proclaimed in 1962 and covers an area of 12,125 acres. In the center of the gorge is the ruined village of Samaria and a small church that was built by the Venetians in 1379 and dedicated to Saint Marina of Egypt. More than 450 species of plants are to be found in the National Park many of which are endemic species of Crete and the most famous of these is the Wild Cretan Ibex which dates back to Minoan times and is known as Agrimi. The bird life consists of many species ranging from small birds through to large birds of prey including the rare Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture. The Long tough walk is not for the faint – hearted but those who experience it will see some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery in the world.
Paleohora was discovered by hippies back in the 60s and from then on its days as a tranquil fishing village were numbered. The little town lies on a narrow peninsula with a long curving sandy beach exposed to the wind on one side and a sheltered pebbly on the other. On summer evenings the main street is closed to traffic and the taverns move their tables onto the road.
The most picturesque part of Paleohora is the narrow streets huddled around the castle. It is worth clambering up the ruins of the 13th century Venetian castle for the splendid view of the sea and mountains.
On the South coast of the island, on a magnificent while sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortress, Frangokastello, built in 1371 on the coast of Sfakia. This fortress is very well preserved and has a splendid view; it consists of a massive rectangular keep reinforced at the corners with square towers, battlement all round.
The Venetian calls it Castle Franco, and as its function was military it never developed a surrounding village. In the 1828 it was seized by the Cretans from the Turks, who however recaptured it after a bloody battle? According to a local legend, at certain times of the year in early morning there appears a ghostly procession, the so- called Drosoulites (“the shadows of the morning dew”), dancing around the fort. This phenomenon has been well attested over a period of time; at one time explained as a mirage from the coast of North Africa.