The Municipality of Kissamos is a municipality in the administrative unit of Crete that was formed under the Kallikratis Plan. It is the result of merging the pre-existing municipalities of Kissamos, Inachorio and Methymna. The new municipality is 334.18sqKm and the population is 10.790 according to the 2011 census. Kissamos was defined as the base of the new municipality. Characteristic of the area are the two peninsulas, Gramvoussa and Rodopos, off the northern coast that form the bay of Kissamos.
Kissamos offers an enormous variety of beaches and seashores, some unknown to most people and others prizewinning and famous. Who doesn’t know or hasn’t dreamt of magical Falassarna, the exotic Balos Lagoon or the unique island of Elafonisos? Scenery of singular beauty, and pink sand that takes your breath away. All of them characteristic of Kissamos. Discover a small part of our Municipality, our beaches.
AN EXOTIC PARADISE
The region of Gramvousa with the Balos Lagoon is one of the most exotic destinations in Crete.
The famous lagoon is located 56Km northwest of Chania and 17Km northwest of Kissamos. If you want to visit this region of such unique beauty, Kissamos is the ideal place to stay. The Balos Lagoon is a sandy beach with shallow waters formed between the Peninsula of Gramvousa and the Tigani Peninsula. Balos is famous for its aquamarine waters, the exotic scenery, the view that greets the visitor on his descent through the path but also for the breath-taking wild, natural beauty of the landscape.
Balos is certainly one of the most advertised and photographed destinations in the world and the favourite subject of all tourist guides. A prospective visitor can find a great deal of information and even more photographic material, but one thing is certain. You will forget all of the above when from the top of the mountain, after the drive and the walk necessary to get there, you face the entrancing view to Balos which emerges majestic. Kissamos awaits to extend its hospitality, to offer you treats and enchant you with places like the Balos Lagoon with the white-pink sand and the strong aquamarine and turquoise waters.
The Gramvousa Peninsula – Balos Lagoon region is included in the Natura 2000 network with the codes GR 4340001 & GR 4340017.
In Balos there are 2 snack-bars that provide the visitor with packaged food and bottled water. Visitors should come with due sensitivity and respect and observe the regulations that apply to the area.
Ways to get to the Balos Lagoon:
By car or motorbike from Kissamos and Kaliviani village on a 10Km road that ends in the parking area. From there you will need to walk about 1Km on the path that leads to the beach.
By boat or private craft.
Prefer to visit Balos in April, May, June, September and October.
Make an early start from your hotel to avoid traffic and also to enjoy Balos with as few visitors around as possible.
Take many photographs, the beauty is unsurpassed, and you will need them when you take a trip down memory lane.
Respect the environment. After all, one day it will pay us back.
It is prohibited:
- To stay overnight and to remain in the area of the dune ecosystems
- To smoke and throw cigarettes at the beach
- To light up a fire
- To throw rubbish unless in the rubbish bins
- To contaminate the water and the wider area in general
- To destroy any kind of natural vegetation
- To hunt
- To install bee hives and bee colonies without a permit from the Forest Authority
- To place signs for advertising purposes
- To climb
- To camp
- To park a car.
The most popular beach
No matter what you hear about blue waters, pink and white sand, the enchanting scenery of Crete, about clear waters and exotic colours, it will not even begin to describe what you will actually face when you come to the beach of Elafonisi in Kissamos. The water of the sea is of every hue of blue. In several spots where the wave breaks the sand has a special pink hue, a unique characteristic of this unusual beach.
Elafonisi is not just an island of seductive beauty. The island, a pole of attraction for hundreds of thousands of tourists from every corner of the world, has another particularity, as you can get to it…on foot. Elafonisi is located on south-westernmost end of Chania in Crete and it has a very distinct beach of unique colours and beauty.
Responsible for the pink sand are the broken shells, and in particular the microscopic crustacean that complete their life cycle and die, leaving behind their bright red shells that stay in the water and are crushed in the sand, giving the beach this unique characteristic that is a point of reference for the whole of Crete.
A few words about the history of area:
At the highest point of the island there is an inscription honouring the memory of a tragic event. More specifically, on Easter Sunday on April 24, 1824, several hundred Greeks, mainly women and children were slaughtered in Elafonisi by Ottoman soldiers. To escape the advancing Turkish-Ottoman forces, forty armed men had taken refuge to the island together with women, children and elderly men, where they waited for the boat that would transport them to the Ionian Islands. The Ottoman soldiers had decided to camp on the beach across Elafonisi. One of their horses crossed the shallow waters that separate the island from main Crete and the people hiding there were discovered. According to several sources there were between 640 to 850 people on the island, most of whom were slaughtered, and the remaining survivors were sold in the slave markets of Egypt.
The shipwreck of Imperatrix:
A large wooden cross honours the memory of a shipwreck that happened on the 22nd of February 1907. It was an Österreichischer Lloyd passenger steam boat, known by the name of Imperatrix. Due to strong north western winds, 38 people lost their lives in a life boat while attempting to reach the shore. They were all buried on the island. The Imperatrix is still at the bottom of the sea in front of the rocks of the island and it was the reason a lighthouse was erected on a hill of the island.
The lighthouse was destroyed during the World War II by the German occupying forces.
Every summer, the Lafonisi Run takes place (as part of the activities with the name of Lafonisia) which is the only run in Greece that finishes…in the sea. You can find more information about the Lafonisi Run on the events calendar.
Kissamos is full of short and long routes you can hike on during your stay. The area is also crossed by the European path E4. E4 is a European long-distance path operated by the European Ramblers Association (E.W.V.). The part of the path that runs within the Greek territory has been designed and signposted by the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and climbing. The path starts from the Pyrenees, it crosses the entire mountain range of the Alpes and it arrives at Florina where the Greek part of it starts. It crosses the whole of Greece down to Gythio and continues to Kissamos. From Kissamos starts the new part of E4 that goes down to Elafonisos and crosses all of Crete, ending near Sitia.
The history of Kissamos is rich and the archaeological sightseeing is just as rich. The history is lost in the depths of centuries and intertwines with mythology and the history of Chania and the rest of Crete. Within the boundaries of the Municipality, there are tell-tale signs of Neolithic habitation, and 5.7 million years old prints of a human ascendant were discovered recently. Let’s discover together the archaeological sites of Kissamos.
Archeological Museum of Kissamos
The archaeological Museum of Kissamos belongs to the 25th (KE) Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and it is situated in the namesake seaside little town of western Crete, below which ancient Kissamos is located.
It is housed in the old building of the Venetian-Turkish Headquarters which was inside the perimeter of the Venetian castle, fortified during the Turkish occupation.
The exhibits of the Museum give an idea of the history in the wider region of Kissamos through the times, from the prehistoric era up to and including late antiquity, i.e. the early Christian period. The exhibition is split into sections based on chronological and local criteria and it takes up the ground and the first floor of the building. This way the visitor comes across the antiquities of the region in chronological order. Moreover, the findings are presented as excavation sets and thematical units.
The exhibition of the Museum provides a lot of informational and educational material. To attract the visitors’ interest and give them a more in-depth look, there is an electronic presentation with research and evidence concerning the most devastating earthquake of antiquity in 365 AD that hit Crete and demolished Kissamos.
Part of the ground floor with the domed-ceilinged rooms, already from 1937 had been given to the housing – exhibition of the Public Archaeological Collection founded in Kastelli in 1936, while the rest of the building housed at times mostly public services like the district court, the agricultural authority, the land registry, a library etc.
Later, after housing different services successively, more rooms were added to the original ones, so the largest part of the ground floor contained the ancient objects. This is when the 25th (KE) Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities started works for the extension – re-establishment of the Collection’s exhibition.
The newer floor was gradually abandoned by the offices it hosted, deemed unsuitable.
In 1989 the building got included in the programme agreement between the Ministry of Culture – Fund of Archaeological Proceeds – Municipality of Kissamos, aiming to carry out studies, restoration and equipment works, in order to host several Collections (folklore, Byzantine icons and antiquities).
Works to restore the Kissamos Headquarters building and convert it to an Archaeological Museum started in 2000, within the framework of the 2nd Cofinanced Development Programme. The project for exhibiting the antiquities in this new Museum was placed under the care of the Regional Operational Programme of Crete within the framework of the 3rd Cofinanced Development Programme. The works were finished, and the Museum opened its doors in September 2006.
The exhibition of the Museum provides an idea of the history in the wider region of Kissamos through the times, from the prehistoric era up to and including late antiquity, i.e. the early Christian period. However, it gives special emphasis to the Roman city of Kissamos which takes up the entire floor.
The exhibition is split into sections based on chronological and local criteria and it takes up the ground and the first floor of the building. This way the visitor comes across the antiquities fo the region in chronological order. Moreover, the findings are resented as excavation sets and thematical units. The exhibition of the Museum provides a lot of informational and educational material.