|Distance||42km from Chania|
|Open to the public:||May to October|
|Entrance fee:||Adults 6 €.|
|Parking space:||Available for all types of vehicles|
|Facilities for people with disabilities:||Not Available|
|Access & walking difficulty:||Difficulty rating 5|
At a distance of 42km from Chania, the longest gorge in Europe begins, the well-known Samaria Gorge. Internationally recognized with multiple international awards for its flora and fauna, it has been officially declared a national park since 1962 (chronologically, the second in Greece after Olympus, but certainly among the largest with an area of 46,000 hectares) and in 1981 was registered as a wildlife reserve by UNESCO.
The clear length of the National Park gorge (in the area under the protection of the Forestry Service) is 13km, while there are about another 3km from its end to the Libyan Sea. Midway through the gorge, at 7km to be exact, is located the abandoned settlement of Samaria, which took its name from a small church found in its precincts, dedicated to Holy Maria of Egypt, with frescoes from the first half of the 14th Century AD. The Venetians, in the quickness of their speech, shortened the phrase ‘Santa Maria Egiziaca’, simplifying it to ‘Sa-Maria’.
The walk through the Samaria Gorge comprises a section of the E4 European Footpath which starts at Xyloscalo (literally, the ‘Wooden Steps’) on the plateau of Omalos and ends at Agia Roumeli , on the coast of the Libyan Sea. It is a well - organized footpath, with springs at regular intervals, picnic areas, wardens and fire-wardens, interesting to geologists, botanists and also biologists, as it is a reserve for the Cretan wild goat, the so called “Agrimi”. Its entirety is enchanting with its unbelievable natural beauty and its scents from all the aromatic plants and herbs, but also with the geological strata which can be seen in its towering walls. Worth visiting for anyone in good physical shape, who wants to get to know the wild nature of the White Mountains, close up.