Aradena is a village in the area of Sfakia, in southwestern Crete. it is located at an altitude of 520 meters above sea level, on the southern slopes of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains). West of the village is the gorge of Aradena, with a depth of about 100 meters, which separates Aradena from the plateau of Anopolis, which lies 3.5 kilometers away.
In a location called Passopetra, near the current settlement, the ruins of the ancient city of Aradin or Heradin (whose name maintains the village until today) are preserved. Stergios Spanakis states that it was founded by Phoenicians and the name Aradin is etymologically derived from the Phoenician word aruad, which means refuge. According to Vladimir Georgiev, the name Aradin comes from the word arados, which means agitation or violent movement, and which refers to the waves that were heard all the way to the city.
It was one of the 30 Cretan cities that had formed an alliance with Eumenes II in 183 BC. It continued to exist in Byzantine times, as reported by Hierocles, and it is possible that the settlement was continuous during the first and second Byzantine periods, as it is mentioned in the documents concerning the determination of the possessions of the 12 noblemen. The church of Michael the Archangel, which was built at the beginning of the 14th century on the site of the middle aisle of an early Christian basilica, which was the seat of a bishop, survives in the village.
Aradena is not mentioned in the Venetian censuses, as other villages of the area of Sfakia, but the name Aradhena is mentioned by Francesco Barocci and it is also mentioned in the list of villages of Crete in 1645, by Antonio Trivan. Aradena, although a mountain village, prospered thanks to shipping and trade, with its inhabitants mooring their ships at Loutro. It flourished from the end of the Venetian years until the failed revolution of Daskalogiannis in 1770. Daskalogiannis gave his last battle in the gorge of Aradena and the village was completely destroyed.
During the revolution of 1821, Chatzi Georgios Maniatis, Anagnostis Manouselis and a few more fighters gave a fight in Aradena, against Husseins' fighters and the Turkish-Egyptian army. The fight ended when the Greek fighters were killed. Aradena is mentioned in the Egyptian census of 1834, when it was inhabited by 36 Christian families. On August 11, 1867, during the revolution of 1866, a battle took place in the gorge of Aradena between Cretans and Turks, which ended with the retreat of the Cretans, due to cannon fire by sea from Turkish ships. In the 1881 census, Aradena belonged to the municipality of Agios Ioannis and had 124 inhabitants. The village was deserted during the 1950s due to a vendetta.
The vendetta started when a child found the bell of a goat on the street and wanted to hold it. The owner, who saw the child holding it in his hands, asked to take it back, but the child refused. He then went to the child's home to ask for explanations about his bell. The vendetta left 7 dead and those who survived left so as not to continue the evil. So from one day to the next the isolated village was deserted.
Aradena was cut off from the road network until 1987, when it was built with funding from the Vardinogiannis family, which has its roots in the area, a 70-meter-long iron bridge over the Aradena gorge. The bridge was inaugurated on December 12, 1987. In the middle of the bridge there is a platform for bungee jumping, as from the bottom of the gorge, the bridge is 138 meters high.