In the extreme east of Crete, at the end of a winding road going down from Zakros Village, lies the little coastal village of Kato Zakros: not more than a couple of houses (restaurants and holiday apartments) and a beach.
If you are looking for a hidden paradise in eastern Crete, Zakros – Kato Zakros is probably the place that will surprise you. In this part of Lassithi, the idyllic and virgin gulf of Kato Zakros stands untouched over the centuries by human intervention, and the Minoan palace of Zakros testimony that a unique culture flourished here before 3500 years. In the following page you can get a small taste of Kato Zakros. A place that offers great natural beauty, endless possibilities of alternative tourism and the real meaning of “holidays in Crete”.
The beautiful beach on the edge of the settlement is formed within a large protected bay. It is mainly pebbly with some rocks in places and has wonderfully tranquil waters. It is not organized with umbrellas, but there are many trees offering shade. Zakros remains peaceful, even in August, and the rocky seabed is ideal for fishing.
There are actualy three beaches in Kato Zakros, next to each other. The first one to the south you will see when you drive into the village is the largest one and it consists of sand an pebbles. The second one (as you follow the path to the north) is a smaller pebble beach where the fishing boats lay. It is mostly used by the few locals of Kato Zakros if they want to take a swim. The last one is an even smaller but very attractive pebble beach that you can reach by stairs. It is sort of enclosed between the rocks.
The about 6km long Kato Zakros Gorge (“Valley of the dead”) opens to the sea at the Kato Zarkos coastal village on the east coast of Crete. The entire gorge is much longer and has multiple forks, but the 6km long part is largest in size and most popular. The name of the gorge dates back to findings from the Minoan period, during which the dead were buried into small caves in the walls of the gorge.
The narrow and winding trail on the bottom of the gorge is lined up with bushes. It is here where the E4 hiking trail reaches its easternmost point. Down by the sea shore, at the end of the gorge is a village called Kato Zakros, and a few kilometres inland at 300 meters altitude is another village called Zakros.
The Palace of Zakros, the most isolated of all the Minoan Palaces, is located on the east coast of Crete, south of Palaikastro. Its position shelters it from the dangerously strong north winds that pass Cape Sidero on the northeast tip of Crete. It was the last of the major palaces to be discovered and is smaller than the other three at Knossos, Malia and Phaistos. The original excavations were begun by D.G. Howarth of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, and 12 houses in the town surrounding the Palace, whose existence remained unknown, were unearthed before the excavation was abandoned. Nikolaos Platon resumed the excavation in 1961 and was able to unearth a palace which had not been looted at the time of its destruction.
The excavations have continued until the present day. The excavation represents one of the most important for Minoan archaeology since the Second World War, and the lateness of its discovery allowed it to be excavated using more modern and more scientific methods than those adopted in the excavation of the other Palaces some 60 years earlier.
From the northest point of Kato Zakros beach, you follow the path to north that leads to a rocky plateau almost at the same level with the sea, after which you cross a stream. Then, continue parallel to the coast, in a very clear path, which climbs lightly up towards the entrance of the Pelekita cave (120m elevation), with a characteristic fig tree at the entrance.
From the cave, the path which becomes hard to discern, descends for about 500 m, to the ancient quarry .
From the quarry and on, where the indistinct path continues along the coast at a higher level, it passes by the mouth of the Adiavato cave and then climbs up to the top of a steep slope.
From this point, you follow the same contour for about 600 m; the entire bay of Karoumes, with the beach at the end of the gorge of Chochlakies lies before you, to the north. You arrive there, passing by a smaller beach and having bypassed the rocky southern slope of the Karoumes main beach.