Omalos Plateau at White Mountains range is one of the great plateaux of Crete. An irregular circle, a polje (a large, flat plain found in limestone karst regions), of some 6 sq km, it is surrounded by peaks – Koukoule (1640 m) to the east, Gigilos (2005 m), Volakia (2117 m), and Psilafi (1936 m) to the south, with Trouli (1455 m) west and Katrinari (1318 m) to the north. The north region, called Lakkiotikos Gyros, is part of Lakkoi, whilst to the south the Seliniotikos Gyros goes with Aghia Irini.
All across the plain are old stone buildings, chiefly square in plan – just a single room with a central wooden pillar supporting the flat roof. They served as residences for the shepherds and farmers of the region between April and early October. Today modern buildings exist; the old dry-stone ones are abandoned. Cereals and potatoes were once grown here.
Accessis mainly from the north where lies the Neratzoporta pass (1080 m) and from the southwest by the church of Aghios Theodoros (1129 m). Of course there is also the way in by the Xyloskalo (1227 m) and from the flank where the Samaria Gorge runs. At Neratzoporta to the north the legendary ‘way of Massouron’ leads up from Lakkoi village.
Below the north entrance, lower than the plain, is the cave of Zane (1050 m). Here it is believed collects the water the plain does not absorb. Even today it has not been exhaustively explored: the English team from Birmingham University (Speleological Society) reached a depth of 2520 m in August 1967, where two galleries opened out. Local legend has it that there can be heard the music of a shepherd, ensnared by the nymphs.
Omalosplayed a major role in the insurrections against the Turks: it made an ideal refuge and base for the Cretan rebels.
Around the circumference of the plain runs an asphalted road from Aghios Panteleimonas up to Xyloskalo. A little before Xyloskalo a small cart-track to the left climbs to the Kalliergis refuge-hut of the Mountaineering Club of Chania.
At the north side of the Lakkiotikos Gyros, just below the hill with the house of Giannari Hatzimichali and the church of Aghios Panteleimonas are restaurants and small hotels.
At Seliniotikos Gyros too is a small settlement with a restaurant; at Xyloskalo a cafenion, tourist kiosk and a small museum of natural history.
- Tips, Suggestions, Iseful info
- History, Culture
- What to do (Activities)
- What to see (Culture, Nature)
- altitude 1070 m
- Access From Chania (Provincial Road Chania-Omalos Plateau); from Sougia (Provincial Road Sougias-Omalos Plateau); Trekking from Agia Roumeli (through Samaria Gorge)