Topolia Gorge

Topolia Gorge

The gorge of Topolia (Topoliano) is located in the inland area of Kissamos, at the western end of the Chania prefecture. It begins at the village of Topolia and after approximately 1.500 metres exits at a verdant valley, next to Koutsomatados village. The walk down the gorge, which is fairly easy, requires about one hour.

Topolia Gorge

However short in length, the gorge is impressive and its landscape is wild. The vertical walls reach a height of 300 metres and the width of the stream bed varies between 5 and 50 metres. The watercourse is thick with plane trees, oleanders and other plants typical of the Cretan countryside. A large number of birds find shelter in the crannies, cracks and caves of the otherwise bare walls of the gorge. The numerous shallow caves and hollows in the walls are characteristic of this gorge. Inside the gorge, you will find the cave of Saint Sophia or Hagia Sophia; only a small section of the cave is open to visitors and there is also a chapel dedicated to Saint Sophia near the main road. The entrance has a width of 25 m, with two main rooms and impressive stalagmites. A rare spider species (Pholcus creticus) has also been found in the cave.

Located only 45 km from the city of Chania, the gorge makes for an excellent short excursion and can also be visited on the way to other attractions in the area like the monastery of Panagia Chrysoskalitissa and Elafonisi lagoon. A section of the E4 European long-distance trail crosses near the area, starting in the ancient settlement of Polyrrinia and moving south towards the village of Sfinari. The area was once thought to be a mystical and magical place, where fairies lived. The Minoan goddess Vritomartis; a beautiful nymph that hid from King Minos was also linked to this location.

Local producers can often be found near the gorge, before the tunnel. During the summertime, this section can get quite busy due to the narrowness of the tunnel, so while you wait, you can purchase fresh fruit, delicious honey, olives and extra virgin olive oil and a range of other products.