Agia Roumeli, Chania prefecture Crete
Roumeli situated 60km from Chania this small village is in the
province of Sfakia and thought to be sited on the location of
the ancient city of Taras dated 5th century BC. Agia Roumeli is
around 1.5km from the exit of the Samaria Gorge and is an ideal
place to experience part of the gorge if you are not up to
walking its whole length.
It is one of the most gorgeous spots in Crete with superb beaches, crystal clear seas and a vista looking out to the Libyan Sea. Agia Roumeli is tiny with a population of only around 125 souls and is connected to the other villages along the south coast of Chania by sea only. During the times of the Venetian and then the Turkish occupation, the people of Sfakia were building ships in this village.
These ships then travelled all over the Mediterranean bringing riches back to their owners. The name of the village comes from the legend that during ancient times there stood a temple that was dedicated to the Roman goddess Roumilia and, when Christianity became prevalent, a church was built on the site - Agia Roumilia - the name changing over time to Agia Roumeli.
Some of the main sites to visit at Agia Roumeli include the ruins of the Temple of Apollo which some believe to be the Temple of Diana. Roman finds of pottery and glassware have been excavated here and the ruins are located at the exit of the Samaria Gorge. There are also two significant churches to visit. Firstly the Church of Panagia which has been built on the ruins of the above Temple of Apollo (or Diana). The church has some beautiful mosaics dating from around the 15th century.
The second interesting church lies about one hour’s walking distance away. It is a small Byzantine church, close to a natural spring and, according to tradition, is where the Apostle Paul came to teach and baptize Christians.