Agia Roumeli – Crete island

Agia Roumeli - Crete island

Agia Roumeli is the small village at the end of the Samaria National Park. This is a fairly new village as the Old Agia Roumeli was located about 2 km north, right at the mouth of the gorge. In 1954, heavy rainfall made the river flood, causing great damage to the village which was then relocated to its present location near the coast. Today, the ruins of the old houses stand alongside those restored by their owners. Located between the ravish blue Libyan Sea and the steeply towering cliffs of Lefka Ori (The White Mountains), the remote village is an ideal destination to relax away from cosmopolitan resorts and crowded beaches.

The village is built at the site of ancient Tarra, a small yet powerful city that flourished during the Roman era. The ruins of the Temple of Apollo (or Artemis) are still visible. At this point you can also visit the old church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) built in 1500. Walking along the shore towards the east, you will find the ancient Byzantine chapel of Agios Pavlos, where according to tradition, St Paul landed and baptized Christians. On the hilltop above Agia Roumeli stand two ruined Turkish fortresses. The first, is not particularly hard to reach and offers amazing view of Agia Roumeli and the endless blue of the Libyan Sea, interrupted only by the islands of Gavdos and Gavdopoula. The other castle is in a poor state, the path is uphill and requires you to be in good fitness. Finally, on the eastern edge of the gorge, near the exit, you can visit the quaint chapel of Agios Antonios (St. Anthony), built in a cavity, shaped in the rocky walls.

Is not so easy to reach Agia Roumeli because there are no roads leading to the village. But this is also what makes this place so special. The only way to reach the village is either on foot through the Gorge of Samaria or by taking one of the boats from Hora Sfakion, Sougia, Loutro or Paleochora. You should know that Agia Roumeli does not have a safe harbour, only a small jetty, making it hard for ferries to dock when the weather is bad. This means that there are no trips and you may be cut off in Agia Roumeli for one or two days. Hiking lovers and more adventurous visitors can also take the trail from Chora Sfakia to Agia Roumeli (approximately 7 hours). 

The village is getting busy during the summer season due to the visitors coming down the Samaria Gorge, and waiting for the boat to take them to Sfakia (Chora) or Paleohora. There is a good choice of hotels and rooms to rent and some taverns. After a few hours of hiking it is a pleasure to sit in one of the taverns and enjoy homemade traditional food and some good wine. 

The beach which is right in front of the village extends for almost 3 kilometers east. It has fine pebbles and clear deep blue waters. Umbrellas and sea beds are available close to the dock. For those who want to dive or snorkel, there are cliffs and rocks at the western end of the beach. On both ends of the bay, there are other pristine and isolated beaches, well-hidden by rock formations. If you stay long enough, then we strongly recommend to hire a boat or canoe and visit the gorgeous and secluded beaches of the area, Domata, Fournoti and Kalogiros.

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