The magnificent and lonely beach of Martsalo lies behind the western Asterousia Mountains, in the Lithino Cape.

The bay is near the southern side of Mesara, 80 kilometers in the south-west of Heraclion.

The beach is pebbly and many tamarixes that offer their shades to the visitors. The bottom of the sea is rocky. There is only a wharf where the boats of the area stop.

The nudism is forbidden in the area as the place is considered holly.

In order to reach that beautiful beach, you have to go through one of the most magnificent gorges of the Heraclion prefecture.


The Martsalo gorge is one of the most beautiful of Crete and a hermitage of the Odigitria Monastery.

Its length is 2 kilometers and it passes through steep rocks with many caves where many asketes lived.

The plantation of the area is very dense. In the middle of the route there is a small palm forest, while there are oleanders, olive trees, locust trees and holly oak trees along it.

Going through the gorge is thought to be easy apart from the steep downward part from the cavernous temple of Panagia to the bed of the gorge.

In order to reach the entrance of the gorge, you have to follow the dirt road that connects Odigitria Monastery with Lithino. There is a sign in that road that leads you to Martsalo.

There is a cavernous church, Panagia Martsaliani, in the beginning of the gorge and it is dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary. The temple is carved in the cavern in the shape of a cone and is 8 meters deep and 10 meters high. It was used as a catacomb during the persecutions and, as time went by, it was desolated for unknown reasons. The church was covered by large rocks and was found by shepherds of the Odigitria Monastery in the middle of the 19th century. The icon of Virgin Mary was found in the temple.

In the middle of the gorge, in Perivoli, there is a stone tank where the water from a small nearby spring is gathered.


During the Minoan era, the Martsalo beach was used as a port, according to the archaeological excavations. It appears that Paul the Apostle have taught Christianity in Martsalo.


“Martsalo” means “Good Port” in Latin.