Learn more about...
Without a road connection, visitors discovering Agia Roumeli tend to come again and again.
Agia Roumeli is built at the end of the Samaria National Park. A very beautiful village, on the edge of the Libyan Sea and at the roots of the White Mountains. It is located in one of the areas of Crete with the wildest nature, with rare flora, fauna, and geology.
Two kilometers from Agia Roumeli and just before the official entrance of the protected park is the old village of Agia Roumeli. The inhabitants of the old village began to leave after 1954 when the river overflowed and many houses were destroyed. After that, the new village was slowly built near the beach.
The village has a Regional Medical Clinic, hotels, taverns, cafes and Mini Markets from where you can buy whatever you need.
Agia Roumeli was an important area for the export of timber 4000 years ago. There was also a strongly built shipyard in antiquity and during the Venetian and Turkish occupation.
It is built on the ruins of ancient Tarra, which was known for its oracle and was destroyed by an earthquake in 66 AD. Tarra was a small independent city with its own currency.
The coins were used during the 3rd and 2nd century BC and depicted on one side the head of a chamois and an arrow and on the other side a bee.
At that time, Tarra was part of the Cretan State and had established colonies in southern Italy and the Caucasus.
It was a large religious center with many temples, including the one dedicated to Apollo Tarraeus and Vritomartis-Artemis, and flourished during the Roman period. It is said that the Byzantine church of Panagia was built on the ruins of this ancient temple.
An archeological site called Tarra is still located on the east side of the river.
In the past, the location of Agia Roumeli was favorable as it was connected to the northern part of the island through the gorge of Samaria.
In addition, the mountains served as a natural fortress during times of occupation and unrest. This is evidenced by the perimeter-built kouledes.
Nowadays, people still make a living from herds of goats and lambs but also from beehives. The involvement with tourism started gradually and is now the main source of income for the locals.
There are several theories about the name of the village. One of them is related to the Arabic word aia = water and rumeli = Greek and ends as Agia Roumeli with the meaning Greek water, while another states that when the Romans found the temple of Vritomartida, protector of the herds, they dedicated it to their respective goddess, Roumilia. As a result, when Christianity prevailed, the area was named Agia Roumilia and later Agia Roumeli.
Things to do
Its natural geographical location makes it a destination that combines both the wildness of the mountain and the calm of the sea. Thus, it is suitable for amazing walks and hikes in the untouched and protected natural environment.
On the other hand, the bright sun in combination with the wonderful beach with its clear blue waters offers special moments of peace to those who choose Agia Roumeli for their holidays.
Stunning unspoiled beaches, which you can explore by hiking, canoeing, or simply renting a boat, are hidden among the mountains west of Agia Roumeli.
To the east one can walk along the beach, following the path to the old Byzantine chapel of Agios Pavlos. From this point, it is said that the Apostle Paul began his journey in Greece.
The ascent to Koule of Agia Roumeli will give you an impressive view to the south of the endless blue of the Libyan Sea with Gavdos and Gavdopoula stretching in front of you and to the north in the National Park and the White Mountains.
How to Get There
Agia Roumeli does not have a road network. It is connected only by ferry to Chora Sfakion, Loutro, Sougia, and Paleochora. Of course, nature lovers can reach Agia Roumeli either by crossing the Samaria Gorge, the second-longest in Europe (https://www.samaria.gr/el/praktikes-simboules/) or via the E4 trail.