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Gorges of Crete

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. Scroll down to find an overview of the gorges on Crete!

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 Samaria Gorge

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 the gorges

Early stage

Coastal limestone planes crossed by a river, which brings rain water and melted snow down from the mountains.

Middle Stage

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

Final Stage

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:

The text and drawings are from a very informative website about Sfakia: www.sfakia-crete.com.

A summary of the gorges in the different Prefectures of Crete you find below. We divided it into West Crete with the prefectures Chania and Rethymnon and East Crete with the prefectures Heraklion and Lassithi. It is a summary of some known and unknown gorges on the Crete but there are way more and slowly we extend the list! 

Gorges in Western Crete

Below you find a list of gorges in Western Crete. This includes the prefectures of Chania and Rethymnon. Click on one of the gorges and you get to a page with a description and other information about this gorge. 

Gorges in Eastern Crete

Below you find a list of gorges in Eastern Crete. This includes the prefectures of Heraklion and Lassithi. Click on one of the gorges and you get to a page with a description and other information about this gorge. 

Gorges in the prefecture Heraklion