Crete Stories and Tips

Ancient port at the end of Crete

Photo of Crete, Greece

Falasarna is a coastal settlement around 10km from Kissamos, on the very western coast of Crete. The beach is well know because of its ''end of the world'' feeling and pinkish sand, and a popular destination for trips from the area. The village is, however, not a village as such but a widely scattered collection of domatia (rooms to let), pensions and hotels with a bit of a ramshackle character. The sea looks good, but the coastal plain is full of polyethylene greenhouses growing vegetables and generally not very attractive.

We didn't go to Falasarna for the beach, though, but to have a look at the Ancient Falasarna, an large, open archaeological site nestling under high, steep hills at the very end of the road that follows the length of the Falasarna Beach past several car parks and a few bars and restaurants, through a lengthy and dusty olive grove to what used to be the only port in ancient Crete from which one could sail on eyesight to the Greek mainland. Important Minoan harbour, it was rendered useless after the Thira eruption that likely caused the subsequent collapse of the Minoan civilisation, and which raised the western seaboard of Crete by thirty feet. Re-inhabited later and re-constructed as a port, it was a major Crete city in the 4th century BC, its inhabitants notorious pirates. Subjugated and destroyed by the Romans around 70BC, it became a lost city and was unearthed only in the 19th century.

There are ongoing excavations at the site – the archaeologists reside in a little hut and potter around the dig, directing the local muscle working with shovels and baskets. Some of them, especially the younger ones, are quite keen to share their knowledge, others, especially the older ones occasionally grace the visitor with their – often disapproving – attention. There is an informative board at the entrance and a sheet you can get to learn a bit about the site, but the fun is in wondering around at random, trying to work out what various places and ruins might have been.

There is quite a lot to see at Falasarna, although most of it fairly low key, but because it's a harbour site, there are more than just the usual house and wall foundations: we saw towers, quays and mooring rings; cisterns and storage rooms.

Unless you have a special interest in archaeology, it's not a site worth travelling from very far to see, but if you stay anywhere in the Hania prefecture, Falasarna makes a good day trip with its beach and ancient remains, or combine it with a visit to Kissamos or even Elafonissi.

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