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Home Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Accommodation Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Car rental Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Virtual tour Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Photo gallery Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Travel guide Crete, Hania, Therissos, Lakki, Omalos, Samaria gorge, Xyloskalo Flights
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Hania - Samaria


3. HANIA - SAMARIA (see Map )

3.1 Hania to Samaria 3.2 The Samaria gorge 3.3 Other gorges

There is one main way to get from Hania to the Omalos plateau and the Samaria gorge and that is to take the road southwest of Hania (A3/25km) that will take you to Fournes (from where you can continue to Lakki and then to the village of Omalos,

Map  Hania Agia Roumeli

your last stop before the gorge). As you travel on the Hania - Fournes road, you will cross a rather indifferent valley with orange groves and face some heavy traffic. This traffic is because the road is used not only by tourists but also by the local farmers.

If, however, you want to avoid this dull trip, you can get to Fournes by an alternative route, longer but far more inviting, which will take you through the Therissiano gorge (A3/23km and D3/7km). You will pass a village called Perivolia and then enter the beautiful Therissiano gorge, which has a total length of about six kilometres. The road follows a stream, occasionally crossing from one side to the other, and the landscape, full of planes, locusts, olive trees and bushes, is a true feast for the eyes.

In July, 1821, a military force of 5000 Turks led by Lati Pasha was crossing the gorge, determined to get to Therisso and stifle the revolt of the locals. When they reached the south end of the gorge they were attacked by 300 Therissians led by the Halides brothers, whose name was later given to one of the main streets of Hania. The battle was in many ways reminiscent of the famous Thermopylae battle, some 2300 years earlier, in which Leonidas and his 300 Spartans got killed as they were trying to hold back a much larger Persian army, which, having also started from Asia Minor, was crossing a similar pass in its effort to conquer Southern Greece.This time, however, the invaders were defeated, and they soon retreated after suffering heavy casualties. But not for long. They gathered reinforcements, returned to the village, and burned it to the ground. Such acts, of course, increased the hatred in the hearts of the Cretans and they fostered even more rebellions, which eventually led to Crete being declared an autonomous state (1897). In 1905 Eleftherios Venizelos

Elefterios Venizelos

led the revolution of Therisso, which resulted in the resignation of Prince George the Second and opened the way to Crete’s union with Greece some years later. The house that served as Venizelos’ headquarters has survived, and today it can be easily distinguished by the many buses that come here daily and by the noisy children swarming in and out of it. If you are hungry and want to make a stop, try the tavern “O ANTAPTH™” (o andàrtis, the rebel) on the main street, just opposite the school. The owner, Manolis Roumeliotis, serves delicious sausages, ghravièra and mizìthra (Gruyere and cream cheese), and sìnglino (smoked pork meat cut up in small pieces), all of his own production. He also makes great choriàtiki (peasant salad) with juicy tomatoes and pure olive oil.

As you continue to the south of Therisso, the road (D3) passes through a barren landscape and takes you to Zouvra, then turns into asphalt (A3) and goes a little to the north again until the village of Meskla. Built among large orange groves, Meskla looks so serene and pretty that it is hard to think it was twice destroyed in the past. But it was. The Venetians, first, and the Turks later, laid everything waste, and it is indeed very fortunate that two Byzantine churches managed to survive, even though they were seriously damaged. The church of Christ the Saviour has some wonderful wall paintings by the hand of the Veneri brothers (1403), but unfortunately they suffered severe and irreparable damage. The church of the Virgin Mary, a little further to the north, is particularly interesting, as it contains parts of earlier buildings including a temple of Aphrodite that was once built in this exact place. It is also worth noting that the mosaic covering part of the present church floor was once the mosaic floor of a fifth century basilica. Finally, around the village one can see many ancient ruins of homes as well as parts of a city wall. Although it is not certain which city that wall surrounded, the ruins are thought to belong to the ancient town of Rizinia.

Singlino
In the old times, when there was no electricity and no refrigerator, pork meat was preserved sìnglino.

The family would slaughter the pig, cut up a few chops to be eaten on that same day, and store the rest in a large earthen jar, after cutting it up in small pieces which were smoked on a charcoal grill.

The jar was filled with the pig’s own fat, which preserved the meat for a period of five to six months. When it was time to consume it, they cooked it in a frying pan, either by itself or together with eggs. Today, in many Cretan villages, folks continue to prepare the meat in the old traditional way.

After Meskla you continue a bit further to the north (on an A3 road) until you reach Fournes (this completes the alternative route from Hania which we proposed earlier). Your next destination on your way to the gorge is Lakki, a village lying southwest of both Fournes and Meskla. This village can be seen from Meskla, but it cannot be easily reached unless you go through Fournes first. However, if you have an off-road bike you can also go straight from Meskla to Lakki,

Lakki, omalos

simply by following the narrow dirtroad that starts about ten metres before the bridge at the north exit of Meskla. (This dirtroad passes through some olive groves and then takes you to the main asphalt road connecting Fournes and Lakki, which it intersects at a point just north of the village). Alternatively (if you do not opt for the off-road route, but choose to go through Fournes instead), you can reach Fournes in two ways: by the A3 road we mentioned earlier or by a nice dirtroad. This dirtroad starts from the same point at the north exit of Meskla, and it heads north following the course of the Keritis river.

Lakki is built on a slope full of chestnut and olive trees and it gives you a great view of the White Mountain range. It is the last village before the Omalos plateau, so if you intend to walk the Samaria gorge or do some mountain climbing it would be wise to buy supplies here. For all those that want to avoid the crowds at Omalos and the Kallergi refuge, the taverns and boarding houses of Lakki are the last chance to eat a decent meal and have a good night’s sleep.

The landscape after Lakki is no longer “human.” There are no orange groves and no cultivated lands, nothing to remind one of how man “tames” nature. The road (A3) climbs suddenly through steep mountain slopes with tall cedar trees and thick bushes, and as it climbs it offers a spectacular view.

Omalos plateau

Be careful, though, because it has many dangerous hairpins. About 15 km south of Lakki, at a height of 1200 metres, the road goes through a pass from which you have a sudden view of the Omalos plateau some 200 metres lower. From early fall until the end of spring, the mountain peaks surrounding the plateau are covered with snow.

In the spring the snow melts and the plateau is turned into a huge swamp or even a lake. Those parts that are not covered by water are full of wild flowers. In the summer, most of the flowers are gone and the mountain greens have been eaten by goats or collected and made into herb-pies. In the past people grew potatoes in this place and they took pride in their delicious taste that was known all over Crete. Today there is nothing cultivated and the few people staying at the small settlement in the middle of the plateau are all into the tourist business. There are a few hotels, each with its own restaurant, and rooms are booked in advance even for the low season; as for the high season, they are all taken. If you want to book a room, your best choice is probably the recently built Neos Omalos Hotel (tel. 0821 67 269). It has a shelter for your bike, a common area with a fireplace, and rooms with double windows that protect you from the night cold.


THE ROUTES THE ROUTES

Routes starting from Hania

Hania
1. Hania - Akrotiri
2. Hania - Paleochora
3. Hania - Sameria
4. Hania - Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
5. Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)

Routes starting from Kissamos
Kissamos (Kasteli)
6. Kissamos - Gramvoussa
7. Kissamos - Elafonissos
8. Kissamos - Paleochora (through the Topolian Gorge)
9. Kissamos - Paleochora (through Episkopi)
10. Kissamos - Sirikari

Routes starting from Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
11. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (travelling inland)
12. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (following the coast)

Routes starting from Rethimno (Rethymnon)
Rethimno (Rethymnon)
13. Rethimno - Ierapetra (following the south coast)
14. Rethimno - Ierapetra (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Ierapetra
Ierapetra
15. Ierapetra - Zakros (coastal road)
16. Ierapetra - Zakros (inland route)

Routes starting from Iraklio (Heraklion)
Iraklio (Heraklion)
17. Heraklion - Rethymnon (coastal road)
18. Heraklion - Rethymnon (travelling inland)
19.Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (coastal road)
20. Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos
21. Agios Nikolaos - Zakros


Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 


 

 

 

Tip of the day

Naxos. “Big Sweet has this island, virtuous are the faces of people, piles are shaped by melons, peaches, figs and the sea is calm. I looked at the people - never this people have been frightened by earthquakes or by Turks, and their eyes did not burn out.
Here freedom had extinguished the need for freedom, and life spread out as happy sleeping water. And if sometimes was discomposed, never rose tempest. Safety was the first gift of island that I felt as walking around Nàxos." (N. Kazantzakis, "Report to El.Greko").
Náxos is the biggest and the greenest island in Cyclades with impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops, where the inhabitants still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land! Náxos is also an island of beautifulold churches, monasteries and Venetian castles coexisting harmoniously with Cycladic cubic houses. Explore traditional villages spread around the island, with a particular, “magical” character: Apérathos is a colourful mountainous village boasting five museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble, and Panayia Drosiani, a beautiful church of the Early Christian Period!

 

 

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