Perhaps the most representative sample of wild Crete is the desert settlement of Aradena on the cliff’s edge above the homonymous gorge on the south coast of Crete, a few kilometers from Sfakia.
Built on the ruins of the ancient city Aradin which had its own currency, which meant power. Aradena had signed a friendship treaty with the king of Pergamon in Asia Minor in 183 BC while during early Christian times was a bishopric.
Always present in the struggles against the invaders, the few residents have left their name in local history.
The church of “Astratigos” – Archangel Michael is typical for Aradena. Built between 1300 and 1400 AD on the ruins of an earlier church, with peculiar architecture, in the wilderness that reigns in the now desert village, Archangel, clarifies differences even today, when it comes to animal stealing. Whoever dares tell lies in front of his icon!
In 1821 Aradena has 226 residents and is declining slowly. But a bloody feud that began in 1948 between the families of the village hastened its abandonment. In 1951 Aradena had 36 inhabitants, in 1971 just 13 and zero in 1991.
At the entrance of the village was built in 1985, the metal bridge Aradena at the height of 138 meters, joining the sides of the gorge. As it is one of the tallest bridges in the whole of Greece, it is popular for bungee jumping.
The gorge of Aradena is equally important to Samaria and has a total length of about 15 km from its source to the sea. The village Aradena located about halfway is also a good starting point although many consider it as the beginning of the gorge.
The gorge Aradena empties into the sea west of Loutro in the impressive and wild beach of “Marmara”.