The gorge of Agia Irini is formed at the west side of the White Mountains, at province Selino. It gets its name from the village Agia Irini (Saint Irene) located near the entrance, 46 km from Chania. Its length is 7.5 km and crossing it takes almost three hours. The gorge ends up in the seaside village of Sougia with the clean and beautiful beach, where you can enjoy a memorable swimming in the waters of the South Cretan Sea.
The gorge is part of the European footpath E4. It’s south entrance is located 5 kilometers to the north of Sougia. It is listed in the NATURA 2000 protected areas and has also been designated as a wildlife reserve by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gorge hosts the endangered Cretan ibex, agrimi, and is characterized by a variety of microenvironments and habitats for many species of wildlife. The variety in flora is very important, from trees (cypress, pine, maple, plane, oak, holm oak) to shrubs, brushwoods and fine herbs such as dittany.
The importance of the gorge is great, not only for its high biodiversity or aesthetic value, but also for its historical and cultural identity. At "Polla Spitakia" area inside the gorge, rebels escaped the Ottomans. In this point, the path of "Fygou"" starts, which was the escape exit from the gorge to the plateau Omalos. The area hosts the Byzantine Church of the Christ (1358 AD) and the ruined church of Saint George (1460 AD). The gorge is the second most visited canyon of Chania prefecture after Samaria and is open for a longer period.