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Maleme beach

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Beach description

Situated 18km west of Chania, Maleme forms part of the expansive beach that stretches from Kolimbari to the vicinity of Chania. This lengthy bay is adorned with stunning sandy and pebbly beaches, although they are exposed to frequent northerly winds. The beach at Maleme is sandy and the surrounding area is well developed, with all necessary amenities conveniently located near the beach. For those seeking a more secluded spot for a swim, the west end of the beach, adjacent to the old military airport, offers a quieter location.

The name Maleme is believed to derive from the word “Malama”, translating to gold, hinting at the possibility of a gold mine existing in ancient times, although this hasn’t been confirmed. In addition, a domed tomb from the late Minoan period has been discovered near Maleme. Despite having been looted, two cylindrical seals depicting running wild animals were found by archaeologists.

During World War II, Maleme held significant historical importance. It was home to the Allies’ military airport until it was seized by German forces. The Battle of Crete in 1941 saw German paratroopers descend upon Maleme to gain control of the airport. They were met with fierce resistance from local Cretans and Allied forces, leading to substantial casualties on the German side. With only rudimentary weapons at their disposal, the local Cretans dealt a significant blow to the German paratroopers, which drew praise for Cretan patriotism from Hitler himself. This marked the first time in the Second World War where German forces faced strong resistance from a local population. It was also the first large-scale airborne invasion in history, and the last of its kind. The German Cemetery, located on a hill near Maleme, is the final resting place for the 4500 German paratroopers who lost their lives. A monument dedicated to fallen RAF airmen can also be found near Maleme, close to the River Tavronitis bridge.