Maleme, Crete: A remote small village in Chania region with a quiet beach and rich history.
Maleme, Crete, is a small coastal village located about 15 kilometers west of Chania city. The village is relatively undeveloped, in relation to its neighboring resorts of Platanias and Agia Marina. However, this can very well be balanced by the more relaxing, remote nature of the village.
The surrounding area of Maleme is impressive, combining a fine sandy beach with the green hills on the south, and featuring a beautiful rural landscape with citrus trees and olive groves.
At the centre of Maleme, Crete you can find the church of Agios Antonios. There are also a couple of fine traditional taverns inside the older part of the village.
Although Maleme is a bit far from Chania city, the local public bus service is very efficient, with frequent routes until late afternoon.
The beach of Maleme, Crete
The beach of Maleme is the westernmost part of the large zone of fine sandy beaches that starts at Agioi Apostoloi, and passes through the great resorts of Agia Marina and Platanias.
The beach of Maleme, Crete is long, sandy, and relatively organized, with sun beds and parasols at some areas. There are also opportunities for water sports.
If you want a really remote beach, go to the western part of Maleme beach. An advantage is the number of the trees near the beach, which provide valuable shade during the hot summer midday of Crete.
Around the beach and in the village of Maleme, you can find some good taverns, cafés, shops and mini markets.
If you want to try something different in your vacation, you can go to the nearby village of Deres and try horse riding in the good local facilities.
The rich history of the village of Maleme, Crete
Although a small, relatively unknown place, Maleme has played a major role in the 20th-century history of Crete and Greece.
During World War II, the strong resistance in Crete, combined with the equally strong resistance in the rest of Greece, played a large part in the big delay of the German forces in the Balkan Peninsula. This delay forced the Nazi army to attack the Soviet Union in winter, which was a key event that led to the defeat of Hitler in Stalingrad, which in turn led to the final loss of the war for the Nazi regime and its allies.
Although the attack of the German forces in Crete was executed by the heavily armed and very technologically superior German air forces, the fierce resistance of the Cretan people made the operation of invading Crete very hard. It was one of the most fierce and violent military operations in World War II, the now famous Battle of Crete.
It was in a small plain near the beach of Maleme that the most important part of the Battle of Crete took place. Here, in 1941, thousands of German paratroopers were thrown from airplanes in a massive and decisive move from Hitler’s troops to end the battle sooner. The local population resisted heavily, fighting with everything they could find – mainly with agricultural tools, even with rocks and bare hands! As a result, many locals and German paratroopers were killed in the battle, with the German forces, although suffering very heavy losses, finally managing to set foot in Crete, which gradually led to the occupation of the island.
Today, apart from the memorial in the local cemetery, there is also a German war cemetery (Deutscher Soldaten Friedhof) in the area, about 3 kilometers outside Maleme, Crete. Here, about 4.500 German paratroopers, most of them young, who lost their lives in the Maleme operation, have been laid to rest. The war cemetery is located on a hill, in a very scenic location, serving as a monument reminding the foolishness and devastation of war. A short history of the Battle of Crete is inscribed on the wall of the entrance hall of the cemetery.
Maleme, Crete, is a small village with a lovely, uncrowded beach. If we also take into account the rich history of its location, the village of Maleme, is a really interesting place to visit in the area around Chania city.