Kourna Lake, Crete
Kourna Lake: The magnificent lake and its surrounding scenic landscape that show the other, hidden face of Crete.
Kourna Lake is the only freshwater lake in Crete. It is located about 50 kilometres east of Chania city, and about 4 kilometres from Georgioupolis resort.
In ancient Greece, Kourna Lake was called “Lake Korissia”, but it took its present name after the Arabic word for lake.
Kourna Lake – an impressive creation of nature
Kourna Lake is lying in a small valley among mountains and high hills. Both the lake and its natural surroundings are very picturesque.
The lake is not particularly large: its perimeter is about 3,5 kilometres. Its deepest point is about 22-23 metres, although some say that in certain points Kourna Lake is more than 40 metres deep. The lake lies about 20 metres above sea level.
The water that fills the lake comes from the many water springs in the mountains and hills that surround it, but the exact process of its formation has not been totally discovered. In some parts of the bottom of the lake, the water comes out in high pressure, making some scientists believe that there may be an underwater lake under Kourna Lake that supplies part of its water.
During the summer, the sun dries Kourna Lake a bit and a strip of sand starts forming around it. During the winter, the lake fills with water and gets bigger, making the trees and bushes near it partially sink under its water.
If you want to go around the lake, there is a walking path that lets you do it, but it covers only about two thirds of its perimeter. The remaining one third of its perimeter on the southwest of the lake is a natural preserve.
Possibly the best way to explore Kourna Lake and its impressive surroundings is on a pedal boat, which is increasingly popular among visitors to the lake. Regarding the animals that live inside the lake, and which are most of the time visible in the water, Kourna Lake used to be full of eels, but nowadays you can only find terrapins and goldfishes.
Kourna Lake and Kourna village – a beautiful traditional village with fine taverns
The village of Kourna, which took its name after Kourna Lake, is located in a distance of 4 kilometres from the lake. The small village has about 500 permanent residents and stands in an altitude of 200 metres on the roots of the mountain Dafnomadara, which is about 1.700 metres high.
Kourna Lake comes in contrast with Kourna village. The lake and the area around it have been developed in order to service the big number of tourists to the lake. The village has kept most of its traditional character. In Kourna village you can find excellent taverns.
Historically, Kourna village has played a significant part in the liberation of West Crete from the Ottoman Empire. There are mentions to the village from the 16th century AC.
Between the village and Kourna Lake lies a scenic cave, the homonymous Kourna cave, which offers magnificent view to the lake. The cave is about 35 metres deep, with impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
Kourna Lake offers a truly distinct experience to the visitor in Crete. The lake itself, the marvellous natural surroundings, and the nearby traditional Kourna village, make a visit to Kourna Lake essential, if you want to see the other, hidden face of Crete.