These photos are from Falassarna, a semi-mountainous coastal area located about 55 km west of Chania (Crete). Though Falassarna is best known for its endless beach and turquoise waters, also is a notable archaeological site. Falassarne, a local nymph gave her name to that area, which flourished mainly during the Classic and Hellenistic years. However the oldest ruins date from the Middle Minoan period. During the periods of flourishment Falassarna was a great naval force, as was on the route between Ptolemaic Alexandria and the Aegean. Its power brought it into conflict with Rome, which destroyed the city in 69 AD. Both the rise of sea level and the massive earthquakes (365 AD) that raised this part of Crete seem to have contributed to its total decline. To the north of the beach you can see the remains of the ancient harbour, cyclopean walls, a stone carved ‘throne’, the ruins of a temple, possibly dedicated to Apollo or Artemis (Diana) etc.
While going down from the top of the hill to the beach, you don’t only have magnificent view of the sea and the wild landscape of western Crete but you have the view of greenhouses too.
The fact is that during the last 3 decades there is a considerable increase in the number of greenhouses. The degradation in groundwater and seawater is a seasonal result of the agrochemical pollution caused by them.
It looks like a paradox that we are talking about an area which hosts a large number of species and habitats and belongs to the Natura 2000 European protection network. As Crete is the northern point where certain African trees are encountered, you can see cedars and palms amongst the sand dunes.
Turpentine tree (Minoan kri-ta-nos, botan. pistacia terebinthus), crithmum maritimum….
cretan thyme and rare aromatic, ornamental and medical plants also grow wild in the region.
And here is a wild -thyme field.
Wild thyme is deeply appreciated for its gentle flavor, its high- antiseptic essence oil and its nectar for bees. The question is if a so –called wild thyme is really wild thyme. Is it wild thyme because it grows in the wild or cultivated thyme because someone planted it? But if the greenhouses can have serious effects on the health of local flora and fauna the ‘cultivated’ ‘wild’ thyme saves the wild one from harvesting. These are the two modern faces of taming the wild nature, after all.