7. KISSAMOS - ELAFONISSOS (see Map
This is a rather quiet route that goes through cultivated fields
and small rural villages without particular interest.
Platanos is the largest village in the area with 1500 people
who make a living out of olive trees and olive oil. Most houses
are new and colourless, featuring walls made of concrete, but
there are also
some old stone-built houses concentrated mainly around the
foot of the hill at the east of the village. If you walk through
the village you will see an odd mixture of the old and the new
lying peacefully side by side: courtyards with age-old equipment
used to make raki, traditional bakeries, old-time coffee shops
where the elderly sip Greek coffee and have heated political
discussions, and next to them modern cafeterias filled with
young people who spend their energy and pocket money on electronic
Should you feel like staying for an evening and catching a glimpse
of life in a Cretan village, the Rooms to Let Photopoulos are
the most convenient accommodations. The restaurant next door
is quite good and it belongs to the same owner.
As you leave Platanos from the south you will see an intersection
with a Gr/E sign pointing to Falassarna. If you follow it, after
five hundred metres you will have a beautiful panoramic view
Falassarna beach, the cape where the ancient town was built,
and the valley south of it which today is full of olive groves
If you are thinking about taking a swim, there is a small pebbly
beach right in front of the ancient town, and a second quieter
beach a little further to the north, behind the acropolis rock.
A third beach, one of the best in Western Crete, with very fine
sand, lies south of the town and is three kilometres long. Its
most beautiful part, empty and clean and
without “development,” is Pachia Ammos (“Thick
Sand”), right in the middle of it. You will reach it if
you take one of the many trails that go through the valley with
the olive groves and greenhouses.
South of the archaeological site are a few pension houses and
small hotels. These are fairly close to the beach, but not at
its best part. Needless to say, there are many quiet spots for
camping all along the beach.
The fertile valley at the south of the Gramvoussa peninsula
has always been the area’s chief source of wealth.
The Falassarnians chose to build their town at the north
end of it, and throughout their history they fought hard
to defend it from all those who wanted it for themselves.
Falassarna was built right next to the sea, but the gradual
rise of the west shore of Crete (and the sinking of the
east shore) changed the topography of the area, so that
today the town’s ruins are about three or four hundred
metres away from the water. To get there simply follow the
sign as mentioned. The road actually goes north following
the coastline, and at some point the asphalt stops and a
dirtroad (D1) begins, which takes you further to the north.
Take this dirtroad and you will soon see to your right an
impressive throne made of stone. A little further you will
see an imposing wall made of limestone, which once surrounded
the town, as well as a small harbour. Although the only
parts of it that have survived are a few large blocks of
stone once serving as foundations and a few segments (which
at places are as high as three metres), you can tell it
used to be a harbour because there are holes carved in the
wall to tie up the boats. Also surviving are the foundations
of a temple and of some homes as well as the stone-paved
streets of the town and a few cisterns. A recent excavation
of the Department of Marine Antiquities, which is responsible
for the Falassarna area, revealed a bathing complex with
four clay bathtubs. Finally, at the top of the hill are
the remnants of the Acropolis wall and the ruins of a temple
that came down with an earthquake and has not yet been excavated.
|Source of the
information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”,
Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of
Greece, click here.