Tag Archives: Agios Nikolaos Lake

A walk to Agios Nikolaos Bay

Agios Nikolaos, the capital of the Lassithi prefecture in Crete, is a vibrant town with plenty to do all year. Summer visitors know it for the many beaches, lakeside cafes, seaside tavernas, boat trips and the Little Train.

We love living in the village of Kritsa, and one reason is its proximity to Agios Nikolaos. Visits to the town include shopping in the farmer’s market on a Wednesday, coffee by the lake or sea, snacks/meals in a huge choice of different restaurants, summer visits to the outdoor cinema and a variety of coastal strolls.

Even if we are just in town to visit the bank, we park up above the marina and walk around the headland into town so it feels like a treat, not a chore.

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In the cooler months a favourite destination is Agios Nikolaos bay, home of the small church that gives the town its name.

We last enjoyed this 6 km flat stroll in January and set off from the car park near the port. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the huge statue of Zeus in the guise of a bull carrying Europa that has pride of place at the edge of the parking area.

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Zeus, the father of all gods, fell in love with a beautiful Phoenician princess named Europa. He took the form of a white bull, as only gods can, and approached her while she was playing with her friends. Europa caressed the friendly animal and for some strange reason climbed on his back. With his trick complete, Zeus the bull rushed into the sea. He carried her away to Crete, where he regained his human form and fathered Minos, the first king of Crete.

After leaving the car park we turned right, and walked past the port and along the waters edge, keeping right until we were on the junction at the small bridge by the lake. Here we turned right again to continue on the pavement towards Ammoudi.

NOTE: People who want buses to Elounda must now go uphill to the main bus station, although this may change at some point. Cars can no longer turn right here as a one way system is operating. Vehicles enter the one way system on the coastal road from Ammoudi. Vehicles leaving the port/town centre drive up the steep road that exits by the hospital. Here is a film clip courtesy of Anatolh on line to clarify the road change.

We walked the length of this path to Ammoudi beach and were pleased to find kafenions open for a coffee en route.

As these two photos show, it is a good path no matter the weather but perhaps a sunny day is the better option.

On reaching Ammoudi turn right – this means walking behind the beach and you need to take care on the road.

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Keep following the road, there is a path on the left, until you see Agios Nikolaos bay on your right. 

Cross the beach with the children’s playground and turn right to continue on the far side of the bay.

Soon after you join this road look out for steps rising beside a bar called Spilia. At the top of these steps is the small church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos.

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I’ve yet to be in Crete on this church’s name day, 6th December, when it’s a local holiday for the town.

Continue to walk along the footpath.

To your left is a popular hotel complex, so I imagine this is a very busy path during the season. In winter it is a tranquil spot and the sheltered bay gives safe mooring to the boats that ferry people to Spinalonga during the summer.

Land’s End!

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Here we clambered down to a small sheltered beach to enjoy our picnic and a look back at Agios Nikolaos. We looked around the corner, towards Elounda, but couldn’t walk further as the hotel had shut off the footpath.  Never mind, we’d had our stroll in fine weather, but dark clouds building over the mountains gave us reason to step it out back to the town.

There is so much to Agios Nikolaos – I’ll feature more aspects in future posts.

Agios Nikolaos Myths Debunked

Stand by for shock revelations…. the gem of Agios Nikolaos, Lake Voulismeni is NOT bottomless, and it has no link to the volcano in Santorini. DSCN3417.jpg

How do I know this?

I joined a dozen other members of INCO, (the local International Community association) for a walking tour of Agios Nikolaos, led by one of our fellow members, Tony Cross a keen geologist. Throughout our 5k walk Tony kept interest levels high pointing out the geological evidence to explain how the town is built on limestone, the exposed remains of underwater landslides, shaped by fault lines and water erosion.

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Our group met in a cafe by the marina and hadn’t walked far before Tony pointed out the first evidence of underwater landslides.

Lucy the dog enjoyed her walk but showed no interest in the rock formations.

 

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So, in summary, and I hope I listened carefully, the nearly 50m deep lake is not a volcanic crater as many suppose. It was once an underground cave, formed when water from a spring created mist to dissolve the rock above. When the cave roof collapsed it left a sinkhole. The tall cliff  at the rear of the lake is the scarp slope of a fault line. Although once a freshwater lake, it became stagnant when an earthquake cut off the water supply and blocked the outlet.  During the 1860s French forces stationed in the town dug the canal making it a saltwater lake.

INCO logoIf you spend time in and around the Agios Nikolaos area and would like to know more about INCO, the local International Community organisation you can use the contact form below to request details.

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning looking at Agios Nikolaos through different eyes, thank you Tony.