The historical Chora Sfakion is in the southern coasts of Crete, 75 kilometers in the south-east of Chania.
Sfakia has been always insubordinate and that was also due to the imposing Lefka Mountains, the number of the gorges of the area and the natural protection from the Libyan Sea.
The famous Samaria gorge (starts from Omalos and ends to Agia Roumeli), the gorges of Klados (starts from the Domatas village), Aradaina (from the Aradaina village), Sfakiano, Impros (starts from the Impros village and ends to Komitades), Asfendos (starts from the Asfendos village and ends to Kolokasia), Iliga or Kavi (starts from Anopoli and ends to the Iligas beach) and Kallikratis (starts from the Kallikratis village) are in the Sfakia municipality.
The villages of Chora Sfakion, Anopoli, Agios Ioannis, Agia Roumeli, Asfendos, Loutro, Patsianos, Skaloti, Impros, Askifos and Fragokastelo are under the Sfakia municipality.
The main occupations of the about 300 residents of Chora are tourism, fishing, agriculture and livestock. There are taverns, cafeterias, mini markets, a butcher’s shop and a bakery and a gas station, a pharmacy, an ATM and other services in the settlement. Buses to Chania set off every day from Sfakia and, from Chora Sfakion, boats to Agia Roumeli, Loutro and the Gavdos Island.
The E4 European Path starts from Chora Sfakion, goes through Loutro and ends to Agia Roumeli. Apart from walking on that path and the gorges of the area, you can swim in one of the magnificent beaches of Chora.
On the road to Chora Sfakion, you can stop by the side of the road in order to enjoy the view of Fragokastelo in the east, of the Sfakia settlement in the west and of the Gavdopoula and Gavdos Islands of the Libyan Sea in the west.
Arriving at Sfakia, you can visit the upper neighborhood with the ruins of the Sfakia Venetian fortress. After that, you reach the parking where you leave your car and continue the exploration on foot. The tiled coastal wayfarer with the shops, small taverns and cafeterias is in the west and the old, picturesque mansions in the narrow streets of Chora.
A small beach is in Chora Sfakion, in the new, small port beneath the shops of the settlement. The central beach is in the west of the small port and called Vrisi. It is a sandy, pebbly and organized beach.
Many beaches are a few kilometers in the west and the east of the settlement. The Iligas beaches of Glika Nera, Perivolakia and Timios Stavros are in the west and the beaches of Agios Charalampos, Sfakiano Ammoudi, Filaki and Plakakia are in the east. The eastern beaches, Sfakiano Ammoudi, Agios Charalampos and Filaki, are next to the Vritomartis nude hotel and for nudists.
The nude beaches start about 1.5 kilometers after Chora Sfakion. They are bays and the first one is called Sfakiano Ammoudi. Sfakiano Ammoudi is connected with the Sfakiano Ammoudi settlement through a very dirt road so maybe you can visit it on foot. The beach is pebbly and with many and magnificent caves. The most famous of all is the Fokia (i.e. seal) cave that shelters seals.
The Agios Charalampos church is in a cave a few meters in the east and the Agios Charalampos beach is next to it. You can visit it either following a path or through the asphalted road that connects Chora Sfakion with the Vritomartis hotel. The beach is organized and pebbly.
The Filaki beach is very close to the nudists’ Vritomartis hotel. The access through an asphalted road is easy. The beach is about 3 kilometers from Chora Sfakion, pebbly and rocky (at some of its parts). There are umbrellas and a canteen in Filaki and a tavern only for nudists very near.
Plakakia with its small and beautiful bays are about 100 meters in the east of Filaki, in the exit of the Sfakiano gorge. There, the beaches are pebbly and some of them in caves.
The magical beach of Iligas with the colored sand and the blue water is about 1.5 kilometers in the west of Chora Sfakion. It is at the end of the Kavi or Iligas gorge and the shades of the rocks can protect from the sun as it is not organized. There are rooms to let and a tavern in the area and a second beach in the east that can be visited only by boat.
Two isolated bays and the Timios Stavros beach are near Loutro, in Perivolakia. The bays with the pebbles and the stones have not any shade. You can visit them on foot or by boat.
Sfakia was stated for the first time during the Arab attacks in Crete. After the conquest of Crete by the Arab Saracens, in 824 A.C., the people of Sfakia refused to subordinate and organized their own autonomous community under the power of their Senate.
During the expedition of Nikiforos Fokas, the villagers of Sfakia offered important services to him and helped the siege of Chandax (Heraclion). After the Byzantine dominance, the emperor, Nikiforos Fokas, let the people of Sfakia to maintain their local control and gave them privileges.
In 1204, after the first conquest of the Byzantine Empire, Crete fell under the Venetian’s control (till 1669). 27 Revolutions took place in that period. Most of them started from the area of the Lefka Mountains, mostly the area of Sfakia. The village did not subordinate to the Venetians.
During the Turkish Occupation, the villagers fought against the Turks as the half of the army of the Cretan rebels was from Sfakia.
After the liberation of Crete and its union with Greece, Sfakia was a province and a municipality from 1998.
There are many views on the origin of the name of the village. It is said that it comes from the word “Sfaks” that means a gorge and was given due to the number of the gorges in the area.
It is also supported that, in the beginning, it was called “Sfikia” and, then, changed to “Sfakia”.
It is also said that its name came from the plant “sfaka”.