In the Cretan countryside, wandering away from the big urban centers of the island always reserves pleasant surprises and unique experiences.
On the southern slopes of the White Mountains, we discover one of the few remaining ruined settlements of Sfakia, the village of Aradena. A settlement with a long history, whose name is associated with the Cretan vendetta.
We find it perched on the edge of the cliffs of the homonymous gorge, in a beyond-reach even today, area. A few years ago, access was through the cobbled path, climbing like a snake on its steep slopes. The road connection was made only in 1987, after constructing an impressive metal bridge with a wooden deck. Its construction was a donation of the Vardinogiannis family to their origin, the village of Agios Ioannis, located a little further west of Aradena. The bridge is 138m high; thus, it is the highest bridge for bungee jumping in Greece and the second one in Europe. The amazing view when crossing the bridge is literally breathtaking!
Nearby from the ruined buildings of Aradena, in Passopetra, are the remains of the ancient city of Aradin or Heradin, one of the thirty cities of Crete. Some attribute its name to the Phoenician word Aruad, meaning refuge, while a city with the same name existed in Phoenix.
Aradena, until the last centuries of Venetian rule and the first of Ottoman rule, prospered because its inhabitants were engaged in shipping and trade.
It was destroyed for the first time after the failed revolution of Daskalogiannis against the Ottomans in 1771. The village leveled two more times during the Turkish occupation. In 1824 during the uprising of the Sfakians and 1867, during the Cretan revolution. Nevertheless, its inhabitants tried to stand on their own feet and bring the mountain settlement back to life.
After World War II, the inhabitants gradually began to leave their isolated village, mainly due to the tough living conditions created by its isolation due to the difficult access. The " law of blood, " a bloody conflict between families, accelerated the villagers' flight to look elsewhere for a better future.
The miserable conditions of that time and the depopulation of the place were finally proved to be positive elements by preserving the area from the influences of the chaotic tourist development, thus saving its unique natural environment and the beautiful houses of the village, these genuine samples of Cretan architecture.