The area of Preveli is without doubt one of the most striking in Crete: it combines the impressive geomorphology of the Kourtalioti gorge with an ecosystem of significance and a beach of rare beauty.
Preveli Lake is formed by the estuary of the river Kourtalioti, which runs all year round. The sources of the river are located in the middle of the gorge itself. It is not a true lake, but a product of the river’s estuary. The estuary is sandy, due to the continuous deposition of silt: in this way the ‘lake’ is formed, small and rectangular – a body of water of some 15 stremmata (3.7 acres). On the east side amongst the native pines is a small Byzantine church to Aghios Savva (14th-15th centuries AD).
On the shores of the lake is one of the two main concentrations (forests) of the Theophrastus palm located in Crete. A few years back, a large fire burnt much of the forest. Despite this, nature has reasserted herself – and today the palm forest lives again. In the late 1980s the area had a large hippy population, which was moved on after a while, to protect the ecosystem of the river. Now unsupervised camping is forbidden in the area.
An icon at Lake Preveli is a rock, shaped like a mushroom. Apparently emerging from the waters, it is always an object attracting metaphysical observations – full of symbolism for those late 20th century residents of the palm forest!
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