Coal Tranfer Tunnels


Plakias Tunnels
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At the east end of Plakias Bay after walking along the coast we come across the tunnels that were built to transport coal rock (lignite) to load in ships. The construction of this work was considered necessary as a ship could not dock in the shallow waters of Plakias.

The lignite was transported to the ships via a Decauville-type rail from the lignite mine about 2.5 kilometers away. The wagons moved on a level route, the final part of which is approximately one kilometer long, and can still be walked today from the area of Paligremos.

According to the scientists, a German businessman built the project for the exploitation of lignite. However, due to the low carbon content of the rock, the project did not prove profitable and was abandoned in 1930. During the German occupation, the Germans enlarged the tunnel and opened a second and larger opening in the rock to supply submarines with water, food, and torpedoes. The coal mine was sealed in 1980 when a child fell in and drowned.

Before starting the walk, make sure you have a flashlight with you for the darkest parts of the route. To locate the old railway track, start from the beach of Paligremnos towards the impressive giant smooth rock of Paligremnos, which is a challenging spot for experienced climbers. You will soon find yourself on the Decauville course but note that the rails are missing.

The route initially passes by a small stone bridge, over which the train used to pass. Then it passes to the base of Paligremos with its incredibly smooth surface and passes along the sea cliffs, in places where either the rock was carved or stone walls were built. Soon you will come across the remains of the first docking platform for the ships. Then you reach the most interesting point of the route, the first tunnel carved into the limestone. Since it is quite long and its height is low, be sure to turn on a flashlight.

Immediately after this first tunnel, an open space is formed, and immediately after that, you come across the small second and last tunnel. Great care is needed because this tunnel ends abruptly in a deep large room, in which the materials were precipitated from above to be piled and transferred to a submarine or ship.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Rethymnon Prefecture

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