Makrigialos, Crete - a village away from mass tourism
The village of Makrigialos or Makry Gialos (Μακρυγιαλός) is located on Crete’s southern coast east of Ierapetra; a 30 minute drive along the coastline filled with a number of secluded bays and quiet beaches.
Makrigialos is a find, some way from any major or developed tourist towns.
The older-seeming harbor area has some character-full cafes and tavernas.
Though it virtually merges with the neighboring village of Analipsi, where the main beach is, the two are different in character. Both parts of what is now really the same village, are framed in front of an impressive mountain backdrop with gorges that are more accessible and every bit as rewarding as the Samaria Gorge.
The large sweep of sandy beach offers a selection of hotels, apartments and rooms for rent. It also has some well conceived and decorated restaurants, cafes and bars, feels casually-stylish in the evenings and also provides a local and not excessively tourist-trodden atmosphere.
At the western end of the village, the remains of an impressive villa dating back to the Late Geometric period have been uncovered. The Romans also valued Makrigialos' strategic position very highly, which explains why the remains of a Roman villa have also been uncovered here.
A small boat leaves the village to nearby Koufonissi, a small island which used to be ancient Lefki, a very important place in antiquity as it was one of the main centres for the production of rhodopsin, a purple colouring agent favoured in Roman palaces. Rhodopsin is extracted from a specific type of mollusk and at takes tens of thousands of shells just to produce one kilo of dye.
Excavations carried out on Koufonissi have unearthed the southernmost ancient theatre in all of Europe, as well as other buildings, among which the most striking was a large temple, which, unfortunately was quarried for stone to build a lighthouse in 1920.