Souda Bay, Crete
Souda Bay, Crete: A very picturesque bay, a great natural harbour and a place of strategic importance through history.
Souda Bay, Crete, is a long, narrow bay on the northwest coast of Chania Region. It is located about 7 km east of Chania city.
Souda Bay, Crete, is a big natural harbour, one of the most protected natural harbours in the Mediterranean Sea. It is about 15 km long and only 2 to 4 km wide.
Souda Bay is formed between the Akrotiri Peninsula and mainland North Crete, extending to the south to Cape Drapano in Apokoronas Peninsula. The bay has a narrow isthmus in the west near Chania city.
Souda Bay, Crete – a unique, beautiful creation of nature
Souda Bay is very picturesque. On its northwest side you can see the steep slopes of the Akrotiri Peninsula, forming in certain places a couple of excellent beaches, like the ones in Marathi and Loutraki.
On the southeast side of Souda Bay, Crete, lie some of the best beaches in the region, like the ones in Kalives and Almyrida. As the mountains of Apokoronas Peninsula overhang this side of the bay, there are many places in the peninsula offering breathtaking view to the beautiful bay.
Near the mouth of Souda Bay, Crete, and off-shore of Kalives, lies the islet of Souda, from which the bay took its name. Souda islet has the remnants of a Venetian fortress, which, during the Venetian era, protected the whole bay. The name “Souda” most probably originates from the Latin word “suda”, which means narrow passage or corridor.
Deep inside Souda Bay, Crete, lies the port of Souda, the biggest port in West Crete. Around the port you see the homonymous town of Souda. The town of Souda was first build and inhabited in 1870 on what used to be salt beds and marshland.
The strategic significance of Souda Bay, Crete, through history
In Souda Bay, Crete, lies one of the most significant ports in Greece. Historically, it always played a major role in protecting West Crete from assaults from the sea. Today in the bay there are two military naval bases, one of the Greek Navy and one of the NATO naval forces.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the port of Souda Bay, Crete, was a strategic target for the Ottomans, in their quest to capture Crete from the Venetians. In 1538, the pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa ravaged the region of Apokoronas, signalling the beginning of hostilities in the area.
After many battles and long term sieges in and around Souda Bay, Crete, that lasted more than a century, in 1645 the Ottomans managed to occupy Chania city, or Candia, as it was called in the Venetian era. In 1669, the Ottomans captured the whole island of Crete, but the Venetians managed to maintain their fortress and naval base in Souda islet until 1715. During the Ottoman period, the entire Souda Bay transformed into a big military port.
After the independence of Crete, the port of Souda Bay, Crete, was used as a naval base for the fleets of the big naval powers. Finally, in 1913, when Crete reunited with the rest of Greece, the port of Souda Bay became one of the prominent bases of the Greek fleet.
During World War II, the German occupying army used the port of Souda Bay as a big naval base. Today, near the town of Souda lays the World War II cemetery for the allied forces, which is the last resting place for about 1.500 of the 2.000 British soldiers who fell in the violent Battle of Crete.
Souda Bay, Crete, is a rare natural harbour, offering truly breath-taking views from both the Akrotiri and the Apokoronas peninsulas. Being the object of disputes and conflicts between past civilizations that set foot on the island, Souda Bay, Crete, is a place of extreme beauty and historical significance.