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Samaria gorge

The Samaria Gorge is the longest ravine in Europe (with a total length of 18 km) and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. Its width ranges from 150 m (widest part)to 3 m (narrowest part). The walk takes 6 to 8 hours.

The Samaria Gorge has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna. The walk starts at Xiloskala, a solid, wooden staircase down into the gorge that facilitates hikers' fast descent. The trail follows a riverbed through a magnificent wooded area with tall trees and a spectacular view.

Midway lies the abandoned hamlet of Samaria, with a tiny 14th-century Byzantine church dedicated to Ossia Maria the Egyptian, who gave her name to the area ("Samaria" results from the synaeresis of "Ossia Maria"). The church contains interesting frescoes.

It stands on the south side of the hamlet and it can be reached via a path starting from the site of the heliport. One of the most impressive parts of the trail is Sideroportes (Iron Gates) where the rock walls, only 3 m apart, soar straight up to about 600m.

The walk down the gorge ends at Agia Roumeli, a seaside village where visitors can stay overnight or alternatively board the boat that will take them to Loutro, Chora Sfakion, Sougia or Paleochora.