As we start down the Xyloskalo footpath we find ourselves in an entirely different landscape that impresses even the most well seasoned travellers.
Samaria Gorge is one of the longest and most imposing gorges in Europe and one of the main attractions for tourists in Western Crete. Its beauty, grandeur and wildness are unique.
Apart from the entrance via Xyloskalo on the south of the Omalos plateau there are two other entrances to the gorge from Omalos: via Poria from the east and via Linoseli from the west. The path connecting Linoseli, Xyloskalo and Poria was one of the routes, most frequently used by the resistance forces during the German occupancy.
The Samaria gorge has an area of 12,125 acres and its width varies from 150 meters to a mere 3 meters. The precipitous sides vary in height from 300 to 600 meters. A well-kept footpath leads along the entire length of the gorge to the beaches of Aghia Roumeli.
On account of its great environmental importance the Samaria gorge was proclaimed a National Park with defined boundaries in 1962. In 1964 all the land was expropriated by the state and at the same time the tiny village of Samaria, was finally abandoned. The Samaria Gorge belongs to the network of Biosphere Reserves areas characterized as such by the Program “Man and Biosphere” (MAB) of UNESCO.