The broader region of the Messara, the Gulf and the Plain both (the plain is by far the biggest in all Crete), is sited in the central and southern part of the Heraklion Prefecture. It is a landscape that harmoniously blends the low-lying plain, the lofty mountains and the long sandy beaches. That strand which fronts the west end of the plain, for example, extends basically unbroken for kilometer after kilometer, from Kokkinos Pyrgos to Kalamaki and Kommos.
Moving from west to east across the borders of the Rethymnon and Heraklion Prefectures, between the settlements of Aghia Galini and Tymbaki, is Kokkinos Pyrgos.
Moving from west to east across the borders of the Rethymnon and Heraklion Prefectures, between the settlements of Aghia Galini and Tymbaki is Kokkinos Pyrgos.
East of both Kokkinos Pyrgos and Katalyki is found Afratia, again basically a continuation of what is next door.
To the south end of the Gulf of Messara, this was in times past the port of Festos: by the beach you will today happen on the ruins of the old city.
The town, with its beach of 300 m and the many caves cut out of the high cliffs which surround and form the enclosed and sheltered bay, is one of the most popular destinations in Crete.
This beach (Red Sand) aka Kokkini Ammos is a secluded beach which can be reached only by foot – with the reddish sand that bestows on it its name, and turquoise waters. The rocky cliffs that rise up to the north have here and there fabulous forms cut into them – like the sphinx and various other esoteric symbols. They are modern, the work of a Belgian.