Crete : Regional Interest
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Agios Nikolaos city
North East Crete, Lassithi
Agios Nikólaos (GR: Αγιος Νικόλαος), with 9.500 inhabitants, is the capital of the Lassithi province of Crete. It is built around a picturesque lake at the north-western side of the Mirabello bay, the biggest bay in Crete. Major administrative, cultural and communications center, Agios Nikolaos is one of the most developed tourist areas, not only in Crete but in Greece in general. Thanks to the beautiful coasts, the great sights and the cosmopolitan life, this lively city hosts every year thousands of visitors without losing one bit of its tranquility and traditional hospitality.
Elounda, Mirabello bay, Lassithi
The island of Spinalonga (Gr: Σπιναλόγκα), officially known as Kalydon (Καλυδών), is located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi prefecture, next to the town of Elounda. The official Greek name of the island today is Kalydon. Originally, Spinalonga was not an island, it was part of the island of Crete. During Venetian occupation the island was carved out of the coast for defense purposes and a fort was built there. A popular name for the island since Venetian rule is Spinalonga. During Venetian rule, salt was harvested from salt pans around the island. The island has also been used as a leper colony. Spinalonga has appeared in novels, television series, and a short film.
Sitia, East Lasssithi
The easternmost town in Crete. A small and pleasant coastal town, built in a semicircle on the western side of the Bay of Sitia (Si̱teía GR: Σητεία), a typical, peaceful Mediterranean port. It is the capital of the county with the same name and is sited 69 km east of Agios Nikolaos.
Zakros Palace and Archaeological Site
Sitia, East Crete
Like the other Cretan palaces, the palace of Zakros, was first built in about 1900 B.C. The present ruins seen by the visitor belong to the second building phase, in about 1600 BC.
The total area of the palace, including ancillary buildings, is approximately 10,000 sq.m. It was not only the permanent residence of the royal family, but also the administrative, as well as commercial and religious centre of the surrounding area.
The long term excavations have yielded over 10,000 objects, many of them considered unique, which are now on display in the Iraklion and Sitia museums.
Ierápetra (GR: Ιεράπετρα), the southernmost town of Crete, combines a brilliant past with a present of economic growth and extension. The temperature seldom falls below 12°C, and the mean annual temperature is 20°C, also it is the sunniest and hottest region of Greece. It has a long sandy beach and clean blue sea, a picturesque port with the castle "Kales", an archaeological Museum, and many more attractions. Visitors will find a wide range of accommodation facilities and lots of interesting things to do and see in the town and the wider area as well.
Mirabello Bay, Lassithi
The area is touristic developed with many shops, restaurants on the shore, bars and several excellent hotels famous for their comforts and the variety of amenities offered. The lagoon of Elounda is shaped between the coast and a small peninsula of 7-8 km length ... Spinalonga, since antiquity, has protected the harbor of ancient Olous.
Diktaian Cave (Dikteon Antron)
Psychro, Lassithi Plateau
The cave of Psychro is one of the most important cult places of Minoan Crete. The excavators and several scholars identify the cave as the famous "Diktaian Cave", where Zeus was born and brought up with the aid of Amaltheia and the Kouretes, and which is connected with myths as this of the seer Epimenides who "slept" here, or the coupling of Zeus with Europa.
Lassithi, Dikti Mountains
The Lassithi Plateau (GR: Οροπέδιο Λασιθίου, Oropedio Lasithiou), is a high endorheic plateau, located in eastern Crete, Greece on the mountain range of Dikti at an average altitude of 840 m, and in a distance of around 55km from Heraklion and 50km from Agios Nikolaos. The plateau is elliptical in shape with an E-W axis of 11km and the N-S of 7km.
The plateau of Lassithi is renowned for its exceptional agricultural produce, the thousands (almost 15000) windmills that used to be there in the past, its significant historical role and for the unique cave of Psychro also known as "Diktaion Andron".
Myrtos (GR: Μύρτος) is situated 15km to the west of Ierapetra, at the estuaries of the river Sarantapihos, in a valley with olive and orange trees. It is a beautiful village built by the sea, with a beach street lined with taverns and cafe bars.
In a short distance from Myrtos on a low hill lies the archaeological site of "Pyrgos" with the ruins of a villa from the post minoan period and a little further at "Fournou Koryfi" lie the ruins of a proto minoan settlement.
Myrtos features a small archaeological museum with exhibits mostly from the area, an initiative of a local teacher.
Myrtos is a popular tourist destination, with nice small hotels, picturesque taverns and kafeneions, a lovely sandy beach and hospitable people.
Vái Palm grove & Beach
Sitia, East Lassithi
A palm tree forest stretching on a marvelous valley and sandy beach. It consists of self planted palm trees of Theophrastus (Phoenix Theophrasti). It is unique of its kind in Greece, Europe and probably the world. Vai because of its special value and beauty is protected by the Greek state, European Union and international contracts. The protected area covers 23.4 ha.
The sandy beach of Vai is amongst the most beautiful in Crete and Greece and attracts thousands of visitors every year since Vai is a top destinations especially for the new comers.
The small islets opposite the beach add a lot to the beauty of the place.
There is a parking area, a tavern, a canteen, umbrellas and seabeds.
There is regular public bus connection with the towns of Sitia and Palaikastro during the summer and many organised day trips by travel agencies.
If you don't like crowds, you can walk a little to the south from Vai to Psili Ammos a lovely small beach with fine gold sand which is nested in a small cove.
Makry Gialos town
Makry Gialos (Long shore GR:Μακρύ Γιαλός) is a small beach resort on the south-east coast of Crete, located 60km from Agios Nikolaos, 25km from Ierapetra, and 33 km from Sitia.
Makry Gialos features a small fishing harbour and a nice 1km long sandy beach that stretches from the harbour to the east. Four more lovely beaches can be found in the immediate area. Accommodation is available mostly in family-run studio and apartment complexes and there is a good choice of bars, restaurants, tavernas, some of them right on the beach front or at the small fishing harbour.
Makry Gialos is the administrative centre of the wider area which comprises some picturesque traditional villages built on the tree covered mountain sides.
The area has been inhabited since the Minoan times as many ruins from this as well as the Roman and the Venetian periods prove.
Sitia, East Lassithi
A small picturesque village by the sea characterized as a landscape of exquisite, natural beauty. With joyful and peaceful inhabitants who constantly tease each other. It is located in Crete, north of Lasithi prefecture, between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, at equal distance (30-35km) from the three major cities(Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Ierapetra).
Ideal place for holiday or special weekends.
You will enjoy the most colourful sunset and the most beautiful daybreak from any other place. The serenity of the morning open view, with the sun rising from the sea, will be unforgettable.
The small island, opposite the village, with the small church of Agios Nikolaos, offers a unique beauty to the landscape.
Makry Gialos Roman Villa
In Makry Gialos, at the place Katovigli, near the church of the Dormition of the Virgin, have been unearthed remains of a Roman Villa. Pendlebury (BSA XXXIII p. 100) had already noted the existence of a Roman settlement here. Excavations begun in 1977 (not yet completed), have shown that there were indeed large domestic establishments, dated from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD, but it is not possible at this stage of the excavations to draw definite conclusions. One room after another has been discovered and the whole excavation so far, covers an area of roughly 1500 sq.m.
Makry Gialos Minoan Villa
In 1971 systematic excavations were begun by the Ephor of Antiquities Kostis Davaras north-west of the village at Plakakia. Here he located an important villa of the lateminoan period. The dig was completed in 1977 having shown that the villa had been destroyed by fire.It had strong outer walls, inner courts, many rooms with thresholds, flagged floors and areas perhaps connected with the worship of the Sacred Tree. It must have been roofed with bamboo canes covered by a layer of clay (as a number of the older traditional village houses still are). Among the most important movable finds were vessels of pottery and stone, figurines and an amygdaloid seal-stone of steatite engraved with a representation of a Sacred Ship. On the ship a sacred precinct or altar is shown with a tall palm-like tree standing like a mast. On the prow of the ship a worshiper or a priestess stands facing the altar, clenched fist raised to the brow in the recognized Minoan attitude of worship. This is the first clear evidence of the existence of Sacred Ships or Boats connected with the Minoan religion; it has its parallels in the ancient religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Source: "Sitia" by Nikos Papadakis - archaeologist
The village of Sissi, a picturesque village 40 km east of Heraklion and 25 km west of Ag. Nikolaos. Sissi is a beautiful fishing village with strange nature. On one side of the village the nature is wild, with a small river flowing into the sea, a number of palm trees on its banks, ducks and geese swimming peacefully. On the other side there are sandy and gravel beaches, caverns in the rocks and deep clear water, full of many kinds of fish. A place that gathers the nature of different places of Crete.
The village of Agios Ioannis
The mountain village of Agios Ioannis, and the coastal resorts of Koutsounari, Ferma & Agia Fotia, a few km from Ierapetra to the east.
Sitia, East Crete
A picturesque town built at 260 m. above sea level, located at the end of the road from Sitia to the eastern part of the island, 38km away from Sitia and 19,5km from Palekastro. Zakros has 750 inhabitants, farmers, producing olive oil of excelent quality, stock breeders and fishermen. It is the commercial and administrative center of the area with the villages : Adravasti (75 inhabitants, 300m a.s.l.), Azokeramos (58 inhabitants, 230m a.s.l.), Kelaria (34 inhabitants, 250m a.s.l.), Klissidi (15 inhabitants, 220m a.s.l.) and Kato Zakros a small coastal village, site of the fourth large Minoan Palace, located 7.5km from Zakros at the bay of the same name.
There is regular public bus transportation from Sitia to Zakros.
The town and the wider area offers quite few facilities to the visitors, apartments for rent, restaurants cafes, shops etc. During the summer cultural events are taking place at the central square of the town, attracting both tourists and locals.
The area is characterized by lush vegetation, due to the many springs and streams with running water, while watermills were built in some of them.
Sitia, East Crete
Xerókampos (GR: Ξερόκαμπος) is a beautiful coastal settlement in a place of natural beauty.
The distance from Ziros is 20 km and from Zakros 11 km. The wonderful beaches, the healthy climate and the important ancient places of interest attract both Greek and foreign visitors. The settlement offers a infrastructure of small hotels, apartments, taverns, super markets and supporting facilities.
Xerokampos is an old settlement. It is first recorded in the 1583 Venetian census. The ancients were certainly aware of the beauty of this place and its important position and the site has been inhabited since the Minoan times.
The settlement would appear to have been at the spot called Katsounaki and on Trahilas hill a peak sanctuary already looted was discovered. There are important ancient sites from Hellenic times on the hills of Antisternia and Farmakokefalo.
At Farmakokefalo where the excavations are under the authority of the archaeologist N. Papadakis an important town, mainly of the Hellenistic era was brought to light. It is possible that the town is Ambelos which various literary sources and correlation place in this area of Crete.
Sitia, East Crete
The village of Papagianades (GR: Παπαγιαννάδες) with ~160 inhabitants, is situated in the area of Lefki at an altitude of 480 m above sea level, approximately 90 km from Agios Nikolaos and 19 from the town of Sitia.
It was first recorded in an Egyptian census in 1834 with 8 Christian families. It was also recorded by Chourmouzi Byzantios in 1842. In the 1881 census the village is recorded with a population of 77 pertaining to the Community of Handras.
The Ai Lias hill just before entering the village is of local interest as well as the Monastirakia, a ruined Minoan settlement.
There is also the church of Panagia Eleousa with frescoes dated back to the 14th century. The sightseer can sit and relax at the marvelous Panteli, a place in a gorge with lot of trees, joining the villages of Papagianades and Maronia. The chapel of Virgin Mary is worth visiting as well.
Sitia, East Crete
The hilly village of Ziros (GR: Ζήρος) spreads over the lower slopes that the locals call Egremno (the Cliff) at an alti-tude of 590 m. at the pictureque Armeni-Handras plateau.
The village is the seat of the Municipality of Lefki.
The village was first recorded as Siros in 1577 in the Venetian Barozzi's catalogue of the villages of Sitia. In a census carried out by the P. Castrofilaka it was listed under the same name in 1583, with a population of 448. In 1928 with the first census after the union of Crete with Greece, the population was 742. Today the population of the village is approx. 742 but diminishing.
The Ziros community includes the villages of Kalo Horio, Hametoulo, the coastal settlement of Xerokampos, the deserted Lamnoni and some settlements inhabited seasonally like Agrilia, Lethi, Achladias, Makri Livadi and Anargyros.
The Ziros area has many antiquities from all periods, however no methodical excavations have yet occured. Ancient sited can be found at Plakospilios (roman settlement and tombs), St. John (an Archaic set-tlement), Fonias (a Minoan settlement), Stalos (Minoan tombs and settlement), Katsoulianos (Minoan tombs), Pentalitro (Minoan Acropolis), Katergari Papa Pigadi (Minoan Settlement), Anemomilia (Minoan building), Pirgales (Minoan Villa), Vrisi Hametoulou (Minoan settlement), Limnia or Palaki Mantra Hametoulou (Minoan buildings).
An important peak sanctuary of the Middle Minoan period existed at the Plagia hill but now it is ruined.
The Ziros area is dotted with caves and also other geological features, the most important are: the cave of Agrilia, the cave of Lygias Spilios and the cave of Voevodas. The Ziros area has also many remarkable churches to show with the most important from all the painted church of St. Paraskevi dated back to 1523. The St. Nikolaos church has graffiti dated back to 14th and 15th century.
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