Chania is a beautiful city. The most beautiful in Crete, one might even say in the whole of Greece. It is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania Prefecture. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km west of Rethymno and 145 km west of Heraklion.
You could say that Chania consists of two towns, the old and the new, which coexist in a harmonious whole. The new town embraces the old and spreads outwards ever wider. Its layout is fairly good near the centre and it’s easy to find your way around. Unfortunately this changes in the suburbs, where it’s easy to get lost. It is commonly observed that its is very easy to find your way into Chania but much harder to get out.
Of course, you may not want to leave, as Chania is a city that will enchant you. The heart of Chania is still the old town, with its narrow, labyrinthine alleyways and listed buildings dating from different periods, where you can enjoy romantic strolls. Many of these buildings have been turned into small hotels, restaurants, shops or homes.
Paleochora is a small town in Chania prefecture. Paleochora is located 77 km south of Chania, at the southwest coastline of Crete and it’s built on a small peninsula of 400m width and 700m length. The Libyan Sea wets its coasts of 11km length. It is the capital town of the municipality of Pelekanos, in the province of Selino and its population is 2.213 (2001 census source). Palaiochora’s economy is based in tourism and in agriculture (mainly tomatoes cultivated in glass-houses and also the production of olive-oil). It is a relaxing holiday place since early 70’s, when it was a famous hippies’ center. Nowadays Paleochora is one of the fastest growing tourist towns Crete.
Paleochora has crystal clear waters, well-organized beaches and beautiful isolated little anchorages. Visitors can find many hotels, restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and nightclubs. Palaiochora has all the facilities such as bank branches, a post office, central telephone office, health centre, doctor offices, dentists, pharmacies, police station, coast guard and customs office and many kind of stores. There are ferry boats, connecting Paleochora with Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Chora Sfakion and Gavdos. Paleochora is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Kalamydi. There are also many Byzantine churches in the area.
THE SAMARIA GORGE
The Samariá Gorge is a national park on the island of Crete, and a major tourist attraction of the island. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains and Mt. Volakias. There are a number of other gorges in the White Mountains. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli.
The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but you have to walk another three km to Agia Roumeli from the park exit, making the hike 16 km. The most famous part of the gorge is the stretch known as the Iron Gates, where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of 500 m. The village of Samariá lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village’s ancient church, Óssia María [“Saint Mary”]. A “must” for visitors to Crete is to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion and catch a coach back to Chania. The walk takes 4-7 hours and can be strenuous, especially at the height of summer.