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Crete, Greece: Beautiful Agia Roumeli with Hans

Delicious food at Rousios. Agia Roumeli.

Delicious food at Rousios in Agia Roumeli.

Hello Agia Roumeli. You are beautiful.

I wake up to discover that I am nearly in the Libyan Sea.  What a beautiful surprise!  I find Hans and we spend several hours making the rounds around town.  He suggests that it’s important when visiting a place to do a little business with everyone in town and therefore not show favoritism.  Another travel survival skill.  No favoritism = more friends.

On the side of the village is a steep and tall rocky cliff.  This morning, and every morning for thousands of years,  hundreds of goats, each with their own bell, come down that nearly vertical cliff-side for food.  At night they return.  Needless to say, the sound of hundreds of bells tinkling in the morning is something to behold.  Magical.

Hans takes me to a Taverna Paralia to have the best spinach pie I have ever tasted.  The spinach was picked that morning.  The cheese was freshly made from the owner’s goat’s milk.  Outrageously good for something so simple.  For lunch we go to Rousios and have fresh bread with fresh tomatoes, olives and olive oil.  Raki and wine accompanies every dish I order.  Also awesome.

About Agia Roumeli

Walking around Agia Roumeli.

Walking around Agia Roumeli.  The goats come down this craggy cliff in the morning.

Agia Roumeli is a tiny village on Crete, located at the outlet of the Samaria Gorge (At 18 kilometers, it’s the longest gorge in Europe).  It is only accessible by foot or by ferry.  Most people visit for the day, arriving by ferry in the morning to visit the Samaria Gorge National Park and leaving in the afternoon.  What a shame.  While the village is tiny (comprised of just four families), it is so rich in beauty and history that it deserves more than a day.

A Brief History

The village has existed for at least 4000 years.  In the past it was the village of Tarrha, built by the Romans, which was important enough to have minted it’s own money in the 3rd Century B.C.  In current Agia Roumeli, there is a church built in the 1500’s, which unfortunately is now locked.  This church though, was built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo and Artemis.

Due to flooding from the river, the village moved just fifty years ago from it’s prior location in the gorge to it’s current location, 10 minutes away, at the seashore.  It’s people have never been fishing people but have sustained themselves through beekeeping and goat and sheep raising (coins minted by the village of Tarrha had a bee on one side and a goat on the other, so it has always been this way).

Agia Roumeli, Crete

Agia Roumeli, Crete

There is a lovely small pebble beach.  And few cars.  It is possible to walk the perimeter of the whole village in about fifteen minutes. The resident’s gardens overflow with squashes and goard-like vegetables, lime and pomegranate trees, and leafy vegetables.  Morning Glories cling to fences.  Stray cats, which are typical all over Crete, are present here too.  Due to the daily influx of visitors there are several restaurants and hotels. And the people are generally very welcoming and sweet.

Above the town is a ruined Turkish castle (although one person told me it was Venetian).  Hans tells me that there are many castles around here, all on mountaintops.  Hans says it’s an easy hike to get there and so we go, in the hot sun, walking on crumbly rock.  The whole mountainside looks like a landslide.  What a view from the castle!  I looked through the ancient doorways of the deteriorated castle which face due South and I imagined the keepers of the castle scanning for invaders from Africa.

Agia Roumeli is a lovely place and the slow pace suits me just fine.  Hans and I agree to stay for the week.

Photos from Agia Roumeli


One Comment

  1. Image 25 is amazing! So many awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

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