The very green and full of vegetation Mili Gorge stretches along the river bed, which leads water all year round. Two creeks and several smaller sources combined here sufficiently large volumes of water in past times to drive the mills with great power.Along the entire riverbed of the Mili gorge lie the ruins of the mills and the abandoned since 1972 villages Pano Mili (upper mills) and Kato Mili (lower mills).
The settlements were mentioned for the first time in 1643 during the Venetian rule. Later, the Ottomans preferred to inhabit the village of Kato Mili. The approximately 30 mills on the river bed supplied the entire area of Rethymnon with flour. According to a geological survey of the area and the river bed in the 60s, the resettlement of the inhabitants to another location was decided and the old villages have been abandoned since 1972.
If you enter the Mili gorge at the point described, encountered in the following order you will find
- the church of Agios Antonios
- the tavern of Evangelos in the old settlement Pano Mili
- the churches of Agios Ioannis and Pente Parthenes (five virgins)
- the Kato Mili settlement
- the churches Agia Paraskevi and Agios Nikolaos
The canyon’s length is about 4 km, of which the first two lead the way down to the river bed, and during the last km one has to overcome again the height difference to either the village Xiro Chorio (path to the right) or the road to Rethymnon (path to the left).
After about 75 minutes pleasant hike until the lower village next to the river bed and researching the ruins and churches, one has already discovered the most impressive places and can practically turn round here and take the same way back uphill to the car.
The passage can be called simple, but the path leads over stony and uneven ground. Sturdy footwear is recommended in any case. The canyon is accessible all year round, but it is not recommended in rainy weather.
The temperatures along the river bed and among the many densely growing trees are also in midsummer pleasant, also you will meet many wooden benches and a few picnic areas on your way.
The tavern is operated by a descendant of a former miller. Evangelos restored here with much love his parents’ house and offers Cretan dishes prepared with local products of excellent quality. There you will also find a leaflet with a hiking map which you can use as a small guide through the gorge of the mills.