LISSOS GORGE, CRETE
Lissos Gorge, Crete, is a “secret” gem of a gorge starting right at Sougia village.
Lissos Gorge, Crete, is an especial gorge on the southwest of the island. As it starts right at Sougia village, hiking in Lissos gorge is a frequent activity for nature-lovers who stay at Sougia.
Although Lissos Gorge is not as famous as its “bigger brother”, the famous Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, it is considered one of the best gorges in Crete.
Hiking through Lissos Gorge, Crete
Before you start hiking through Lissos Gorge, you should make sure that you have a good pair of hiking shoes, as it is necessary for the rugged terrain of the gorge. Also, you should have some water with you and a hat and sunscreen for protection from the sun.
The total time you need to hike through Lissos Gorge is about 2 hours. The entrance of Lissos Gorge is right next to Sougia harbor. The entrance of the gorge is marked by a fence, which you can open and get inside - you should close the fence again after entering the gorge.
At the beginning of the gorge, there is a rock in the middle of the trail, but you can easily bypass it. The gorge goes uphill, but the ascending is not difficult, especially in the beginning of the gorge. Along the path there are numerous pine trees, which provide the precious shade needed during the hot summer months.
After about half an hour inside Lissos gorge, we meet an impressive, characteristic rock. The locals use this rock as a sign, as about 10 minutes of walking after it, the path splits to two: the path which continues inside Lissos Gorge, and the one which branches on the left, and after going uphill on the side of the gorge, leads to the known - and now deserted - ancient city of Lissos. So keep in mind not to turn left at this point, in order to stay inside the gorge.
The last half of the hike is slightly more difficult. At the end of Lissos gorge there is a beautiful pine tree forest leading to a plateau that marks the end of the hike. From the plateau you have a magnificent view of the impressive ancient city of Lissos.
In order to return to Sougia village, you again have to descend through Lissos gorge. Keep in mind while descending that at some parts of the hike the rocks may be slippery. When descending, it is a good idea to follow the branch towards ancient Lissos (you need about 45 minutes to get to Lissos from the gorge), in order to admire this very scenic location.
Lissos Gorge, Crete, and Ancient Lissos
As mentioned above, Lissos Gorge is also the way towards the ancient city of Lissos.
Lissos is the second most important ancient site in Crete, regarding the number of sculptures found by the archaeologists, after Gortys, the Roman capital of Crete. A characteristic fact is that the findings from Lissos are exhibited in two separate museums in Crete, the Archaeological Musem of Chania and the Archaeological Musem of Heraklion.
In the ancient city of Lissos, you can find an ancient cemetery, a theatre, and an aqueduct. But what distinguished Lissos from the other ancient cities of southwest Crete, and the reason for its prosperity, was the Asclepion, or temple of Asclepius.
The Asclepion of Lissos was in ancient times what in today’s world would be a big regional hospital, serving the whole surrounding area. The water of Lissos, which was considered medicinal, was frequently used to cure many illnesses. The Asclepion of Lissos was finally destroyed by an earthquake, but its floor wasn’t destroyed, and can be seen today having a mosaic depicting animals and geometric shapes.
Lissos Gorge is one of the best locations for hiking into the nature of Crete. The gorge’s very close proximity to Sougia village, and the impressive ancient city of Lissos near it, make Lissos Gorge one of the best natural sights to visit in West Crete.