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Akrotiri: land of rock and fragrances

However much you seek among all the mountains, coasts and plains

of Crete, it is unlikely you will find

a place which resembles the Akrotiri.

For, in this small peninsula, lying to the north-east of Chania,

everything is unique.

A rocky paradise

The Akrotiri “Melechas”, as its actually called, (Kyamon in antiquity) is the most ancient geological formation in Crete, a place where the rock, the dry climate, the light, the strong wind and the low, multicoloured aromatic vegetation predominate. The climate of the Akrotiri is unique. Both its geological morphology and its surprising alternation of landscape are due to a unique combination of karstic sedimentary rocks which give it colour. Many times, the Akrotiri has been the focus of international geological interest. So, it is not by chance that on the Akrotiri, in such a comparatively small area, 122 small and large caves are concentrated, which speleologists have been exploring in recent years.The tectonic fissures have created beautiful, small gorges and gullies, on the sides of which grow aromatic plants and edible wild greens. It has been discovered that, on the Akrotiri, the concentration of its vegetation is 1,742 times greater than that of Europe, while the concentration of indigenous plants is 3.5 times greater than the Cretan average. In habitats of the Akrotiri, live 170 species of bird, three kinds of frog, 12 species of reptile and 18 species of mammal! And all this in a mere 113 square kilometres!




The Akrotiri has constituted a centre of important events in Cretan history. In ancient times the city of Minoa was developed here, while in the Middle Ages, the Venetians built small fortresses and monasteries. The Turkish Occupation left indelible marks on the villages and their inhabitants, who always found shelter in the monasteries which comprised both spiritual and trade centres for the area. In 1897, the Great Powers bombarded the encampment of the Revolutionaries who were calling for the liberation of Crete from the Turks. Here were written the decisions for the founding of the Independent Cretan Republic, and from here began the fight for the unification of Crete with Greece. The most important national leader in modern Greek history, Eleftherios Venizelos, is buried here. Finally, the Akrotiri also paid its own toll in the Second World War.

The isolated and protected character of the mountainous mass of the Akrotiri was conducive to it being chosen for the founding of many historic monasteries, four of which survive today in their complete architectural form, while only three house monastic communities: the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Tzangarola), the Holy Monastery of the Lady of the Angels (Gouverneto) and the Holy Convent of Saint John the Baptist at Korakies. The old monastery of Saint John the Charitable (Eleimonas), close to the airport, is also fully restored and open to visitors. Apart from these, there are two ecclesiastical museums (at the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity and at Sternes) and dozens of ruined monasteries, cave sanctuaries and small byzantine chapels await your visit.


Left breathless . . .


Among the cleanest in Chania, the beaches of the Akrotiri are characterised by the currents which refresh their shining waters, by their organisation and the special quality of the landscape which surrounds them. To anyone looking for peace and quiet, the creeks of Maxairidas and Seitan havens, which can be reached on foot, offer comparative seclusion. Walks in the Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna, at the Venizelos' Graves, at the ancient quarry of Stavros, on the coastal road which connects Kalathas with Ayios Onoufrios  beaches, but also bicycle rides inland (Kathiana – Horafakia – Ayia Triada – Kallorouma – Pazinos) and on the coastal trail which connects Horafakia with Tersanas and Stavros will all make known the splendour of the beauty of the Akrotiri. There are places with spectacular views which will leave you with unforgettable, romantic memories: at Prophet Ilias, at Pervolitsa, on the road to the summit of Sloka and to the bottom of the long stretch of Vothona. Easy hiking routes await nature worshippers at the Monastery of Gouverneto and at Kalathas,  while adventure lovers can explore some of the dozens of visitable caves such as those of the Virgin of Arkoudiotissa, of Saint John the Hermit, of Lera and others. Finally, lovers of diving can visit hundreds of underwater caves between Ayios Onoufrios and Kalathas.

For Dinning, Swiming, Sightseeing in Akrotiri  click here: 

map of Akrotiri area
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