Hiking in Crete

Knossos
Gorge

Heraklion

Knossano Gorge
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The Knosano Gorge (or gorge of Saint Eirini) is the continuation of Mount Giouchta. It extends south of Archanes (Saint Mamas) it runs through Archanes in Kato Milos, where starts the subpart of Knossano gorge known as Sylamos Gorge, after the nearby village. This part is very beautiful with smooth cavernous rocks and huge plane trees, and is easily accessible by car as the road connecting Arhanes to Sylamos runs along the riverbed.

The canyon then reaches the area Miristi, where the biological station of Archanes is located, under the Jiouktas Mount, and continues (along with the road Syllamos - Arhanes) till the beautiful aqueduct of Morozini in the position Karidaki. Near the aqueduct is the ruined church of Panagia Kardiotissa, hidden in tall cypresses and olive trees.

Continuing, the gorge (the road does not pass now alongside the gorge, but turns towards Sylamos) reaches the huge Agia Irini aqueduct in Spilia and continues northwards and it passes near Knossos. It is crossed by the torrent Kairatos (or Katsampas) that is going through Agia Eirini and Knossos and ends at the sea in the Katsambas area. The area of the gorge, which is also named Paradise, has been characterized as a place of particular natural beauty and has been included in the network Natura 2000.

Diversity of flora species in the area is low because of shading from the dominant “platani” and “vatos” species. There are 120 species of plants present in the gorge. Forty are found in the watercourses of the rivers and the rest are in close distance. Endemic species are present only in the gorges (11 species) from which 2 are infrequent and 9 are common endemic species of Crete. The infrequent species are Campanula tubulosa that sprouts in Western Crete and Nepeta melissifolia that is an endemic of Crete and Milos and is found in small populations. An Important element of the gorge’s flora is the presence of an important population of “ftelia” tree Ulmus minor ssp. Canescens. This tree is found in small numbers in the Chania area and it is considered as imported. The existence of an important population in the Knosano gorge proves that this tree is indigenous of Crete, a remaining of a previous cold season, when glaciers existed in continental Europe.

Two migratory species of birds that are met in the gorge are “mygochaftes” and “tsalapeteinoi”. Jackdaws and certain mountainous species like “galazokotsyfas” also exist. The majority of the remaining species are those that are found in bushy vegetation. Where swamps of fresh water and trees exist a great variety of small birds is found, as “spizes” and ladybirds. In addition, inside the gorge the water turtle and the amphibian green “frynos” and tree frog exist.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Hiking gorge, Signed trail
  • Water: Water till spring
  • Length (km): 5.5
  • Altitude difference (m): 200
  • Difficulty (0-10): 1
  • Hiking Hours: 3
  • Accessibility: Paved road
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