(Ano) Zakros is a small quiet town located on the easternmost tip of Crete and about 38 km from Sitia. It is the administrative center of the area and has about 1000 permanent residents, while in summer the population increases mainly due to tourism. Its port is Kato Zakros..
Even today the rich water springs, which supply a very large area and extensive olive cultivation in dry-thermal Eastern Crete, are the driving force for the development of Zakros. The village of Zakros itself was originally developed as a mill village that served the needs of the entire province. Unlike the rest areas of prefecture Lassithi, which were dominated by windmills, due to the lack of water, Zakros housed mainly water mills. Dozens of watermills were operating incessantly for grain milling, wool processing and olive grinding.
Now that the watermills are no longer in operation, the area attracts thousands of visitors each year to explore the natural beauties. Zakros is the seat of the Sitia Geopark and is located on the European E4 trail. Attractions in the area include the Gorge of the Dead, the beaches of Kato Zakros and Xerokambos, the Minoan palace of Kato Zakros and of course the dozens of caves of the geopark. Folklore museums, restored watermills and an information center - museum for Sitia Geopark, operate in the settlement.
Kato Zakros is a traditional fishing village located 107km east of Agios Nikolaos and 40km east of Sitia. It is the picturesque harbor of Zakros village (located 7km on the west), situated in a fertile valley with olive groves surrounded by rough mountains. The area is one of the most remote areas of Crete and is ideal for those seeking tranquility, away from the bustling daily life of cities.
The beautiful Gorge of Kato Zakros (or the gorge of the Dead) starts in a short distance from Ano Zakros, nearly 100km southeast of St. Nicholas, and ends at Kato Zakros. The beauty of the landscape, the historical importance of the gorge and its accessibility, attract many visitors every year.
Zakros is located in a remote area of eastern Crete, 45km southeast of Sitia. Communication with the Mid East was faster from here during the Minoan Age, thus the Minoans built here the administrative center of Eastern Crete, with an important port. The findings are very rich (sheets of gold, ivory, jewelry, pottery, etc.) and prove the close relationship of the city with the ports of Cyprus, Egypt and the Middle East.
The Zakros’ Natural History Museum is located at the Polykentro building, lying along the main road that crosses Epanos Zakros village. The Museum is dedicated to the natural environment of the Park. The flora, fauna, and geology of the area is presented through small dioramas (reconstructions of ecosystems), staffed animals, posters and displays of rocks and fossils.
This part of the E4 path offers nice seascapes and is not too hard. From the organized beach of Kato Zakros, the course runs northwards, alongside the rocky coast. It comes by the Cave of Pelekita and the ancient quarry of Pelekita, from where Zakros Palace material was extracted, and finally reaches the beautiful beach of Karoumes, at the exit of Chohlakies gorge.
The Minoan villa of Zakros was discovered in 1965 by N. Platon and I. Sakellarakis. It was a rural villa with complete facilities for wine production, very similar to modern ones, and big jars for storing wine. The wine press is exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.
Next to the lush green Springs of Ano Zakros one can visit the Museum of Water and Hydraulic housed in three restored watermills since 2007.
From Ziros, the E4 European trail heads northeastwards and soon enters a dirt road that leads to ruined historic settlement Skalia. From Skalia we walk north and east, we pass a small plateau and then descend to Ano Zakros springs.