The landscape of Martsalo gorge evokes scenes from biblical films, making you unsure whether you are still in Crete or perhaps somewhere in the Middle East. Steep white cliffs with curves and caves that once upon a time hosted hermits; clusters of endemic Theophrastus palm trees sprouting here and there; ancient olive trees that form rare natural sculptures; blossomed pink oleander; and the curious stare of goats through the rocks... the vibes of Martsalo will follow your every step.
You park your car and start walking on the downhill trail until you reach the chapel of Panagia Martsaliani (Mary of Martsalo) carved within a cave with a ‘suspicious’ shape, as it happens to remarkably look like a Minoan tomb. Something not so unexpected since archaeological excavations revealed that Martsalo once was a Minoan settlement (1800 – 1600 B.C). Around the chapel you will see the little caves of hermits that once lived here, in search of total holiness. And with such a view, who could argue with them?
Caves that once hosted hermits, clusters of endemic palm trees, ancient olive trees and the sleepless eye of wild goats will accompany every step you take
The downhill trail becomes a bit steeper until you enter the walls of the gorge. Now you start walking among ancient olive trees, carob trees, oleanders and –of course- goats. You take a break under the shade of the little palm tree forest that will probably feel like an oasis after the merciless exposure to the sun. Now you just need to walk for two more kilometres until you reach the beach, hidden behind salt cedars. A peaceful cove with turquoise waters, protected by the strong winds, completely isolated. A perfect place to achieve holiness! And now you know, that sometimes ‘Ithaca’ is worth as much as the journey...(as for the way back, don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems).