Lendas is a remote coastal village located 74km south of Heraklion, on the southern slopes of the imposing Asterousia Mountains. It is a tourist resort and a port, mildly developed offering very relaxing holidays. Lendas can be accessed from Agii Deka, close to Mires town, via the village of Miamou, through a narrow paved road. This road crosses the rugged mountains and descends from an altitude of about 1000m to Lendas (sea surface) in a route that offers breathtaking views over the Libyan Sea and Lendas.
The surrounding area is full of beaches, so quiet that they attract many nudists. The beach in front of the village Lendas is protected on the east from Cape Psamidomouri and on the West from the famous Cape Lion, about which we discuss later. This beach was the old port of Lendas, which has now been moved to Loutra. It is the busiest beach of the area, slightly organized and offering basic services such as umbrellas, showers, sunbeds and water sports. Moreover, beside the beach there are several taverns and rooms to rent. The trademark of the beach is its ducks, which stroll upside down. Moreover, the threatened Caretta caretta seaturtle lay its eggs on the beach of Lendas between May and September. If you want to stay secluded, you can visit the remote beaches of Dyskos and Loutra.
Lendas is built on the site of the ancient city Levina. The name of Levina is believed to come from the Phoenician “Lavi” which means Lion. Indeed, on the west of the village there is a cape reminding of a lion's head from far. According to the legend, this is one of the lions that pulled the chariot of goddess Rhea, the mother of Zeus, which was petrified at this point. Moreover, according to another version, the name comes from the Phoenician word “levina”, which means white and describes the whitish color of the rocks in the area. The current name Lendas comes from the word “Leondas” which means lion in Greek. The cape, which is also called Lion, is protected as archaeological site. You can visit its peak by walking for 15’ and enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Traces of firstly-minoan graves and a settlement have been extracted. The settlement had connections with Egypt. The ancient city of Levina flourished in the Hellenistic and Roman Era as a harbor of Gortys, which was then the most powerful town of Crete.
On the east of Lentas, there is a spring of water, which was considered to have healing properties. Even today, studies have shown that the water is good in diseases of the stomach, blood and bleeding tendency. Thus, this spring was the cause for the construction of a huge temple, dedicated to the deified doctor Asclepius and Hygeia Sotira (4th century AC). The temple was renowned as a center of hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and psychiatry. Patients from distant areas, such as Libya, visited this place. From the temple, you can still see the altar, two marble columns and the base of a statue of Asclepius. On this site a Byzantine church was build using also materials from the sanctuary, dedicated to Agios Ioannis Theologos. Remains of Roman baths have been found in the area of the springs. Levina seems to have been abandoned in the 7th-8th century, possibly because of constant pirate raids.
The animals of Cleopatra
On the east of the village, opposite the Psamidomouri Cape there is a rock that reminds of a crouching elephant, with another beach formed opposite the rock. Furthermore, even further, Cape Trafoulas resembles a crocodile from Lendas.
Thus, a legend was born that says that once Cleopatra came to Lendas with her favorite animals, namely lion, crocodile and elephant. She was very impressed by this place, so when she decided to return to Egypt, she left behind the animals to guard the place. Indeed, these “animals” still remain here, waiting patiently for the return of Cleopatra.