|In the south-west part of Crete (Prefecture of Chania) there lies one of the most beautiful beaches you could visit in Crete.64 Km from Chania, there is the village of Vathi. After Vathi the road , running south until, a total of 73 Km, it reaches the south coast at the Crysoskalitissa Convent. The fortress-like convent is built high up on a steep cliff over a narrow bay, with a wonderful view south over the LIbyan Sea.(At least aremarkable sight). Continuing about 5 Km south west from the convent, we come to the beautiful islet of Elafonisi, which is joined to the body of Crete by a shallow reef some 800 metres long.|
|This is easy to cross when the weather is calm. The land-scape is warm and the and welcoming, with brilliant white sand and the calm sea. There is no hint of the frightful waves which the south wind can whip up - some of the fiercest in the Mediterranean. Nor is there any reminder of the catastrophe of 24 April 1824, when, on Easter Sunday, the troops of Ibrahim slaughtered 40 Greeks fighter and 600 women and children. Only a plaque on the summit of the island bears witness to their terrible end.|
Elafonissi is a small islet on the southwest of Crete. It is connected to the beach with a shallow reef (max. depth 1 meter) that allows crossing when the sea is calm. There are only a couple of cantinas on the beach and plenty of places for camping. The place can be accessed by car from the village of Vathi or by boat from Paleohora. There are no permanent inhabitants.
In 1824 640 women and children seeked refuge in the islet from the fury of the Turks. However the Turks managed to discover the passage from the mainland to the islet, walked over and slaughtered them all. According to the legend the sand on the beach took its red color from the blood of all the victims.
|Natural Habitat :|
Walking on the beach of Elafonissos the visitor can see various plants and bushes (Atriplex halmus, crithmum, maritimum, rura clepensis, ballota pseudodictamum etc.). There is also a small frog (bufo viridis viridis) endemic to the island and various lizards (podarcis erherdil elaphonisi) considered a protected species. There are also reported instances of a snake (coluber gemonensis gemorensis) . According to studies conducted by the Greek Ministry of the Environment the island serves as a breeding spot for the caretta-caretta sea turtle. Finally local fishermen have reported noticing Mediterranean seals ( monachus monachus) in the open sea.
There are very few indigenous species of birds on the area, but the area is very important to ornithologists since it is the last stop from Europe to Africa for migrating birds.
The Monastery of
Monastery of Hrissoskalitissa (golden stair). The monastery is dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother. It is located at the southwest part of Kissamos, 73km away from Hania, and is part of the municipality of Vathi
The monastery is built on a rock and pilgrims visiting have to follow a staircase carved on it with 98 steps. According to the tradition, the last one was made of gold but only faithful people could see it ( hence the name of the monastery from the words Hriso meaning gold and Skalitissa meaning of the stair). According to the tradition, however, the Patriarchy in Constantinople gave the gold step to the Ottoman sultan in order to achieve better treatment for the Christians.
In 1900 the monastic order resident on the monastery was disbanded by the Turks and its lands sold. Solitary monks however continued to live there and maintain the old building as best as they could.
Today the monastery is open to all people who can visit and maybe stay for a coupe, of nights if there are free cells.