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Crete: Hania Prefecture Overview Page Twenty-six

Crete's South Coast continued

Hikes starting at Loutro are generally in rugged country and some of them pretty isolated, the least so being the coastal path mentioned above, though it can be narrow and bumpy along cliff faces and hot in the summer sun. The easier hike is from Loutro to Hora Sfakion (less than two hours); Loutro to Aghia Roumeli is harder, and can take four hours. There are also inland routes from Aghia Roumeli to Hora Sfakion that pass through Anopoli (see section on road to Hora Sfakion above). The Aradhena gorge offers yet another route, from Loutro to Anopoli and down to Marmara Beach, but again, the terrain is rugged and tackled best by the very fit.

Hania to Soughia

Hania to Soughia From Hania, this route goes first to Omalos and from there west through Alikianos, to get past the high peaks. The war memorial here, mentioned above (Samaria section), honors the Cretans who fought on during the retreat of thousands of soldiers fleeing the coast after the tide had turned against the Allied forces there. It was these Cretan heroes who insured the success of the evacuation by preventing the Germans from cutting off the exit road. Alikianos was also the site of the wedding massacre that ended the Kandanoleon revolt. There is a 14th century church here with very intact 15th century frescoes. Skines is a nice village with a wide avenue and orange orchards. The ride between there and the Aghia Irini valley is a lovely drive past the forested hillsides of the Lefka Ori foothills.

Aghia Irini is an village with old chesnut trees. There was a serious fire during the summer of 1994 between the gorge of the same name and Soughia, which burned villages as well as countryide. The road to the south coast from here goes southwest at this point to loop past several villages, and, the first sight of the Libyan Sea below you is from near Epanohori, after which the road passes through Prines and Tsikania to Kambanos. This region shows evidence of malachite mining in ancient times.

Beyond Maralia, (hidden from the road) and past the junction for Rodhovani is a large modern church on the site of ancient Elyros, a major Roman city-state (though there's not much left of it). The site was rediscovered by an English scholar during the early 1800s. A 6th century basilika was found (where the present church now sits) which controlled the valley down to Soughia, (at that time Syia) which was one of its ports. During Byzantine times it was the seat of a bishop.

The last village before the coast is Moni, with the 14th century frescoed church of Aghios Nikolaos, and the only known campanile on the island.

More Hania Prefecture: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36