The Gorges of Crete

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There are many gorges and ravines in Crete. Of course the most famous is the Samaria Gorge which attracts thousands of people every year. Most gorges in Crete are unknown to most people but are very interesting to discover. Many of them are easy to walk through, but for others you need ropes and mountaineering experience. Some gorges, like Samaria and Imbros are possible to book as an excursion through local tourist offices. Other gorges, like Aradena and Irini are included in walking holidays but usually not possible to book as a daily tour. Of course there is always the possibility to walk the gorges on your own and some of them are described in walking guide books.
The Samaria Gorge on Crete
Samaria Gorge
Many visitors to the Cretan gorges are wondering how these gorges were formed. A short summary:
Since the late Miocene period, 5 to 10 million years ago, the intense uplift of the whole Cretan area, due to plate tectonics, accelerated karstic weathering, forming these many gorges and caves and plateaus.
The gorges are formed mainly in carbonate rocks, i.e. limestone and marble, as a result of continuous land uplift and erosion by water of the rivers. The land uplift is usually caused by faults, or 'cracks in the earth'.
The forming of a gorge on Crete 

Early Stage Middle Stage Final Stage
Coastal limestone planes crossed by a river, which brings rain water and melted snow down from the mountains. The fault or crack is breaking, due to geological uplift and pressure. A gorge is beginning to be formed. The river in its bed causes immense erosion Immense erosion by the river and rising of the stone floor continues, widening the gorge. This can be seen at most of the gorges in Crete now, like at Samaria and Imbros gorge. Sometimes a wide coastal plane is formed, like in Frangokastello, Sfakia:
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The text and drawings are from a very informative website about Sfakia:

A summary of the gorges in the different Prefectures of Crete is descript below. For each gorge there is a short description and for some gorges a link is added to other websites that have additional information. Also for most gorges an overview on Google map is displayed. These are not all descriptions yet. More descriptions of gorges are to come!
Gorges of the Prefecture Chania
Map of Crete with the prefecture Chania
Samaria Gorge
Imbros Gorge
Aradena Gorge
Agia Irini Gorge
Asfendos Gorge
Gorges of the Prefecture Heraklion  
Map of Crete with the prefecture of Heraklion
For extra pictures of gorges click here.