Loutro (Λουτρό, meaning "Bath") is a coastal settlement in the area of Sphakia of the Chania regional unit in west Crete, between Chora Sfakion and Agia Roumeli, the exit of the Samaria Gorge. Loutro is very significant: a top-rated touristic attraction and a historical place at the same time. Let's find out 5 facts about this scenic destination.
In the area of Loutro, a small promontory shelters two coves that make a safe anchorage, one of the few in the southern coast of Crete. Diachronic human presence is based in the existence of this safe anchorage on the steep southern foothills of White Mountains (Lefka Ori).
In antiquity, an ancient city developed there, Phoenix (Finikas), as an important harbour during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. At the same time, the city was the port of the nearby ancient city Anopolis. St Paul visited the harbour on his route to Rome. Loutro played a key role during the Greek Indepedence War in 1821 and later Cretan revolts in the 19th century. Notable historical fact is the, failed, operation against an Ottoman figate by american volunteers using an innovative then naval weapon (stay tuned for more!). After the supression of the revolt of 1866, Ottomans constructed a small fortress (koules) in order to secure the portnfrom further deployment of Greek forces.
Loutro was the wintertime port of Sphakia. Locals don't forget the legacy of their heroic ancestors. Prominent landmarks of Loutro are the church of Panagia, by the Cretan date palm trees, and the nearby building of the Old School where there was the seat of the headquarters of the Greek revolution army on Crete in 1821.
An amazing fact about Loutro is the absence of cars. This destination is accessible only by foot or by sea. Ferries run daily connecting Loutro with Chora Sphakion, Agia Roumeli, Palaiochora, and Gavdos island. Nowadys Loutro's economy is based on tourism, and fishing!
Authenticity and protection issues
Loutro grow rapidly as a touristic attraction during the previous decades. You must add this destination in your bucket list for sure!
However the touristic development unfortunately goes with authenticity issues, modern Loutro is looking more like a popular settlement in the Cyclades, rather than a traditional Cretan village. It's difficult of course to find balance between slow tourism and overtourism, but locals have to choose which one option is the best for their sustainability.