Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.

Turkish fortress on Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli is the end point of the Samaria National Park route. Most people, after several kilometers of walking through the gorge, only dream of reaching the white buildings of the village, regenerating their strength and jumping into the sea. However, if, after passing Samaria, someone still has a lot of energy and enough time before the ferry leaves, we suggest entering the Turkish fortress located just above the village.

Fortress on Agia Roumeli Turkish fortress towering over the village of Agia Roumeli

To see its massive walls, just look up while walking through the streets of this village. Our observations show, however, that hikers reaching Agia Roumeli rarely look up, not to mention looking for additional challenges. A pity, because in our opinion this fortress deserves to be climbed up to it.

The mountain on which this fortress is erected blocks access to Agia Roumeli from the north. Therefore, when you go up to an altitude of 194 meters above sea level, you can see not only the well-preserved walls of the fortress. From the top there are amazing views of the village below, the surrounding beaches, the Libyan Sea and the mouth of the Samaria Gorge. When the visibility is good, you can also see the islands of Gavdopoula and Gavdos. They are the southernmost borders of Europe.

This fortress has a lot of tourist potential, but making it a regular attraction will require significant financial resources. So far, the only investment made was the installation of lamps that illuminate the centuries-old walls in the evenings.

Agia Roumeli - view from under the fortress Agia Roumeli is visible below

Why are there so many Turkish fortresses in Crete?

If you hope that this fortress hides a dark story similar to Drosoulites from Frangokastello , then unfortunately we must disappoint you, because we did not find any such information in the sources. What may, however, be puzzling is the reason for the presence of the fortress in such an exposed place. And this is where the story gets more interesting. First of all, you need to know that Turkish forts are not unusual in Crete. There are a lot of them and they are scattered practically all over the island.



These forts are known collectively as koulés and koulédes (pl). Their presence is proof of the enormous undertaking undertaken by the Turks after the suppression of another Cretan uprising, which took place in 1866-69. In order to avoid further uprisings for independence, the Ottoman troops occupying the island then built a chain of such forts all over Crete. They are placed so that they are within sight of each other. This was to allow the crews to easily contact each other.

Soldiers stationed in such koulédes could communicate with each other by means of flags, fire or smoke signals. During this period, 150 such forts were built in Crete. At least 20 of them were built in Sfakia itself. Some of them were large enough to accommodate a certain number of permanent soldiers. Others were small observation points used periodically.

In the case of some forts, the troops stationed there had contact only with the nearest one. However, in many cases, where the terrain made it possible, soldiers were able to communicate in this way with the garrison of several fortresses. The main task of Turkish soldiers stationed in such forts was observation. In particular, it was about noticing any actions taken by the Cretan partisans in a timely manner. All this was to prevent another attempt to organize an uprising, and eventually put it down as soon as possible.

Fortresses around the Samaria Gorge

This was exactly the purpose behind the creation of the fort located above the village of Agia Roumeli. Popularly known as koulés, it was built by the Turks in the 18th century. The reasons for its introduction here are rather obvious - the Samaria Gorge area is one of the most active insurgent areas. Thanks to the erection of a fortress in this area, the Turks could keep an eye on the Cretan partisans hiding in the gorge. It is not the only fort in the area, but it is certainly the best preserved one. It was quite large and originally there were probably at least two floors.

The interior of the fortress The interior of the fortress

On the same hill there is another smaller fort called Koul é daki , which is located higher. It is located at an altitude of 529 m and is about 1.5 hours uphill walk from the fortress described above. In the past, it was probably just an observation point operated by soldiers stationed in the lower fortress. Currently, however, it is in a very poor condition.


On the opposite side of the gorge, on the second hill surrounding the Samaria Gorge, there are also the remains of two other Turkish forts. Unfortunately, these fortresses are also in poor condition and completely ruined. The remains of their construction indicate that a constant number of soldiers were stationed there in the past. Remains of other Turkish fortress ruins can also be found above the former village of Samaria and near Xyloskalo. Other nearby forts built by the Turks are to the west in the Tripiti gorge and to the east around Agios Ioannis.

  We have marked the location of Turkish fortresses in the vicinity of the Samaria Gorge and its immediate vicinity on the map

The forts built around Agia Roumeli were not in direct line of sight with the fort near the Tripiti Gorge, due to the high ridges between the two gorges. Likewise, the fort located in the gorge above the village of Samaria was not in sight of the forts built closer to the coast. Most likely, however, the forts near Agia Roumeli used the communication line with the fort near Agios Ioaniss.

During the next Cretan uprising, some of the Turkish kouledes were destroyed by the Sfakians. However, after the cessation of fighting, they were quickly rebuilt by the Ottoman army. Only when the Turks left Crete for good in 1898 were the forts permanently empty. Currently, many of them are in very poor condition. It sometimes happens that only foundations or pieces of walls remain from the old fortresses.

Routes leading to the fortress

To get to the fortress built above Agia Roumeli, you need to choose one of the two paths that lead up to the top. One begins behind the Πκκλησία Παναγία (Panagia Kera) church in the village and zigzags up to the top. From what we have seen this year in the upper part, the trail is locally in poor condition. The second path starts at the paved road leading from the gorge exit. Here, the hiking trail begins at the cemetery in the old part of Agia Roumeli. It is a relatively good path that goes along a very steep slope. When entering, the views from it are amazing, but the more sensitive ones can make you dizzy.



It takes about 30-40 minutes to go up, and it takes a little less time to go down. In summer, high temperatures can be felt when climbing. Especially if you choose the path that starts next to the church. It is located on the south side of the mountain and is completely shadowless. You will need to bring water and a hat. The ideal time to climb is late afternoon, when the temperatures are already more bearable. Unfortunately, however, it requires staying in Agia Roumeli for the night, which we strongly encourage you to do.


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Interesting places on Crete

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Falasarna
Falasarna

Falasarna

W 2002 roku Falasarna zdobyła tytuł najlepszej plaży w Grecji. Wyróżnienie to nie jest bynajmniej przypadkowe, gdyż miejsce to jak na standardy Krety jest naprawdę unikalne.

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Elafonisi
Elafonisi

Elafonisi

Elafonisi is a small island located at the end of the southwestern edge of Crete. A characteristic feature of Elafonisi is the shallow lagoon connecting it with Crete.

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Elafonisi
Elafonisi

Elafonisi

Elafonisi is a small island located at the end of the southwestern edge of Crete. A characteristic feature of Elafonisi is the shallow lagoon connecting it with Crete.

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Chania Airport
Chania Airport

Chania Airport

This is the second largest airport (IATA code: CHQ) in Crete. In 2010, the airport in Chania served a total of over 1.65 million passengers.

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Chania - Xania
Chania - Xania

Chania - Xania

Chania (Χανιά) is the second largest (after Heraklion) city of Crete. The biggest advantage of Chania is the area of the Old Town and the beautiful Venetian Harbor.

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Aptera
Aptera

Aptera

Aptera is a city whose history dates back to at least a thousand years before our era. In the peak period, about 20,000 lived in it. people, of which only 1/5 were free people.

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Chania - Xania
Chania - Xania

Chania - Xania

Chania (Χανιά) is the second largest (after Heraklion) city of Crete. The biggest advantage of Chania is the area of ​​the Old Town and the beautiful Venetian Harbor.

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Sfakia
Sfakia

Sfakia

The genesis of the name of this poviat will not surprise anybody who will break the road from the Imbros gorge to Hora Sfakion.

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Frangokastello
Frangokastello

Frangokastello

Frangokastello is a small fortress that was built by the Venetians over four years from 1371. Initially, the castle was named after Saint Nikitas.

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Hrisoskalitissas
Hrisoskalitissas

Hrisoskalitissas

(Χρυσοσκαλίτισσα) The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Golden Step from the 17th century is the westernmost church building of this type.

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Hrisoskalitissas
Hrisoskalitissas

Hrisoskalitissas

(Χρυσοσκαλίτισσα) The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Golden Step from the 17th century is the westernmost church building of this type.

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The Omalos plateau
The Omalos plateau

The Omalos plateau

Omalos is a perfect starting point for exploring the Samaria Gorge. Located over 1,100 m above sea level extends over an area of 25 km2. Its size corresponds more or less to the size of the Lasithi Plateau.

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Kournas
Kournas

Kournas

Located 47 km from the city of Chania, it is the only freshwater lake in Crete. Its area is about 580 thousand. sqm. and the maximum depth is about 45 meters

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The Omalos plateau
The Omalos plateau

The Omalos plateau

Omalos is a perfect starting point for exploring the Samaria Gorge. Located over 1,100 m above sea level extends over an area of 25 km2. Its size corresponds more or less to the size of the Lasithi Plateau.

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Aradena
Aradena

Aradena

The steel crossing, which in the central part is separated from the ground by nearly 150 m, is at the leading position of the places where the longest bungee jumps are made.

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Chania - Xania
Chania - Xania

Chania - Xania

Chania (Χανιά) is the second largest (after Heraklion) city of Crete. The biggest advantage of Chania is the area of the Old Town and the beautiful Venetian Harbor.

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Sfakia
Sfakia

Sfakia

The genesis of the name of this poviat will not surprise anybody who will break the road from the Imbros gorge to Hora Sfakion. Word

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Chania Airport
Chania Airport

Chania Airport

This is the second largest airport (IATA code: CHQ) in Crete. In 2010, the airport in Chania served a total of over 1.65 million passengers.

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Chora Sfakion
Chora Sfakion

Chora Sfakion

Chora Sfakion is an extremely picturesque mountain village of the mountainous and wild Sfakia region

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Loutro
Loutro

Loutro

Loutro is famous for the fact that you can get to it only from the sea or walk on the mountain trail, because there is no other road here.

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Stavros
Stavros

Stavros

Stavros used to be a small fishing village. Today, it is primarily a tourist destination, but in a positive sense.

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Bear's Cave
Bear's Cave

Bear's Cave

The cave is less than 1 km from Moni Gouvernetou Monastery. You will reach it using the pedestrian trail that has been marked out along the slope of the Avlaki Gorge.

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Balos Lagoon
Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon

Balos is one of Crete's flagship beaches if not all of Greece. We can assure you that the landscapes you see during your trip to Balos will remain with you for a very long time.

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Moni Katholiko
Moni Katholiko

Moni Katholiko

Moni Katholiko is probably the oldest and most spectacular monastery in Crete. It is located 20 km north-east of Chania.

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Agia Triada Monastery
Agia Triada Monastery

Agia Triada Monastery

The Orthodox monastery of Agia Triada, located on the northern part of the Akrotiri peninsula, is one of the most beautiful and richest monasteries in Crete.

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Agia Triada Monastery
Agia Triada Monastery

Agia Triada Monastery

The Orthodox monastery of Agia Triada, located on the northern part of the Akrotiri peninsula, is one of the most beautiful and richest monasteries in Crete.

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Gouverneto Monastery
Gouverneto Monastery

Gouverneto Monastery

Gouverneto Monastery is probably the oldest active Greek Catholic monastery located on the Akrotiri peninsula near Chania.

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Imbros
Imbros

Imbros

The length of the trail leading through this place is about 8 kilometers and the difference in altitude is about 600m.

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Agia Roumeli
Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli znajduje się na południowym wybrzeżu Prefektury Chania, pomiędzy miejscowościami Chora Sfakion i Paleochora.

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Souda
Souda

Souda

Until the early nineties, this place was known only to few tourists and local residents.

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Paleochora
Paleochora

Paleochora

Paleochora is a quite well-organized tourist town, with a beautiful large sandy beach

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Lissos
Lissos

Lissos

Ruiny starożytnego miasta Lissos znajdują się około 3,5 km od miejscowości Sougia na południowym wybrzeżu Krety.

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Samaria
Samaria

Samaria

Samaria is one of the most important tourist attractions located in the western part of Crete.

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Glyka Nera
Glyka Nera

Glyka Nera

Glyka Nera is one of the most spectacular beaches in Crete.

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Sougia
Sougia

Sougia

Sougia is a small town located in the southwest of Crete.

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Falasarna (excavations)
Falasarna (excavations)

Falasarna (excavations)

On the north-western coast of Crete, at the foot of the Gramovous peninsula, there are ruins of the ancient port of Korikos, later known as Falassarna.

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Krios
Krios

Krios

Krios Beach is located about 9 km west of Paleochora and it is also the last beach on this stretch of the southern coast

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Agia Sofia
Agia Sofia

Agia Sofia

Between the villages of Topolia and Koutsamatados there is an interesting cave known as Agia Sofia

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Milia
Milia

Milia

Milia is an authentic mountain settlement, which most probably dates from about the seventeenth century.

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Potamida
Potamida

Potamida

On the edge of the village of Potamida grows a complex of clay mounds called Komolithi (Komolithoi)

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Grammeno
Grammeno

Grammeno

Grammeno (Γραμμένο) is a beach that can be counted among one of the best and most beautiful beaches in this part of Crete.

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Platanias
German tunnels
Platanias<br/> German tunnels

Platanias
German tunnels

Platanias is a popular tourist destination. It is here that there are very interesting tunnels from World War II.

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Polirynia
Polirynia

Polirynia

Polyrinia was one of the most important city-states of western Crete during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It was built amphitheater on a steep hill, rising to a height of 481 meters above sea level

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Agia Irini
Agia Irini

Agia Irini

The Agia Irini gorge, just a short distance from the village of Sougia, is one of the most popular hiking destinations.

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Gramvous
Gramvous

Gramvous

The island of Gramvousa, or in fact Imeri Gramvousa (Ήμερη Γραμβούσα), is an inseparable point of a trip that combines a stay in the Balos Lagoon with visiting the remains of a fortress located on the top of the island of Imeri Gramovousa.

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Fortress
Fortress

Fortress

Agia Roumeli is located on the south coast of Chania Prefecture, between Chora Sfakion and Paleochora.

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Ag. Pavlos
Ag. Pavlos

Ag. Pavlos

The Byzantine church of Agios Pavlos was erected on the remote Selouda Beach in the south of Crete.

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