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Arvi beach

Beach description

Arvi, a sizable coastal community, lies 79km southeast of Heraklion and 35km west of Ierapetra, nestled in a small valley before the towering Arvi Gorge. The village is constructed on the site of the ancient city, Arvi. The valley and surrounding areas are home to numerous greenhouses, with the local population primarily engaged in agriculture. The region’s warm climate supports the cultivation of bananas, fresh vegetables, and olive oil. The Arvi bananas are distinctive for their aroma and unique taste, gaining nationwide fame in Greece after a banana import ban in 1981.

In recent years, Arvi has seen the development of its tourism sector, largely owing to its proximity to stunning beaches. The village is peaceful and family-friendly. The main beach, situated west of the small harbour, boasts coarse sand and occasional pebbles. It is well-equipped with amenities such as umbrellas and water sports, and there are plenty of options for accommodation and dining nearby. A short walk westward leads to a lengthy pebble-strewn beach, a more secluded spot near the main road to Amira’s village and adjacent to the pebble beach of Kolimbi settlement.

A five-minute walk west of Kolimbi takes you to the secluded sandy beach called Makis, also known as Vahoudianos Xerokambos. Nestled in a remote bay, this beach, with its fine sand and clear water, is a sanctuary for those seeking solitude.

Arvi’s history extends back at least to 2600 BC, as evidenced by Neolithic artefacts found in the area, likely attracted by the region’s favourable climate. During the Roman period, Arvi was a significant Mediterranean port. A Roman bath discovered near the Saint Panteleimon church and numerous tombs, unfortunately looted, bear testament to this era. The most notable discovery is a marble sarcophagus adorned with Dionysiac scenes, unearthed by locals near the sea in the 19th century. Regrettably, the sarcophagus was broken by locals in search of gold and is now displayed and restored at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. A similar fate befell a second sarcophagus belonging to the region’s Roman ruler, which was broken to build the church’s altar, although its lid was saved and is also displayed in the same museum.

The village of Arvi derives its name from the temple of Arvios Zeus, worshipped on nearby Arvion Mount. It is believed that the sanctuary was constructed at the mouth of the wild Arvi Gorge, where the Monastery of Saint Anthony now stands. The monastery’s unique location on the steep slopes of the gorge is truly remarkable. Some scholars suggest that Arvi was the landing point for the Saracens when they took over Crete in 828 AC.