The ancient settlement of Vasilike is one of the first Minoan settlements with town-planning. It occupies the top and slopes of a low hill near the village Vasilike, in the vicinity of the Minoan settlement of Gournia. The first settlement dates back to the Early Minoan II period (2600-2300 B.C.) and owed its development not only to the strategic position, controlling the Isthmus of Hierapetra, but also to the neighbouring fertile plains. The central building of the settlement was destroyed by fire in around 2300 B.C.
The Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete (or INSTAP-SCEC) is a unique facility for archaeological research, especially in the area of Aegean Prehistory. The Center is committed to stimulating and facilitating publication in the broader field of Cretan studies, with a focus on archaeology and ethnology.
Between OLEROS and OLERIA there is the village Meseleroi, which took its name from the ancient OLEROS. It is situated at 10 km in the north of Ierapetra at an altitude of 360 m. Ancient Oleros flourished during the classical times, to be conquered by thepowerful Ierapytna. Oleria was a place of worship for Oleria Athena, with its famous statue, venerated by the residents of Oleria and Ierapytna.
It is a small village with few residents, loacated 4 km to the west of the village Christos at an altitude of 600 m. The residents of Metaxohori (GR: Μεταξοχώρι, or Parsás - GR: Παρσάς) have immigrated to the plains of Ierapetra, in Stomio, Ammoudares and Xerokampos and work in the glasshouses. The village has been renamed in 1955 from Parsas to Metaxohori to honor the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis who was born here. The Metaxohori settlement dates from the 17th century, as follows from the dating of the old churches. In the older times, Parsas, as its name was, was built at 2 km below its present position, at the site Myrtaras. Until 1929, it belonged to the Municipality of Mournies in the Province of Viannos. Since then it has been an autonomous Community, in the 90s it belonged to the Municipality of Nea Malla and today it is a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra. In 1630 it had 138 residents, in 1940 it had 281, and in 2001 55 residents were registered in the census. The permanent residents however are no more than 7. Metaxohori has good infrastructures, an asphalt road, a renovated school, a memorial for the fallen fighters, beautiful old and new churches and the bust of the Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis. It is connected by a dirt road to the Symi villages Riza – Mournies. The modern history of Metaxohori is rich in important persons and facts from the period of the Turkish rule and the German Occupation. The most prominent figures were Captain Diakomanolis, during the Turkish rule, and Giorgos Metaxakis, a lawyer who worked in the Prefecture and spoke 7 languages. In 1943, 7 residents of Parsas were arrested and executed at Sfakoura of Riza. Metaxohori or Parsas, with the ruined Cretan style houses, the half-wrecked cemetery church, the wonderful natural landscapes, the view to the mountaintops, has an unbelievable tranquility, which is only disturbed by the voices of animals and birds, and a nice healthy climate. There are also amazing mountaineering routes for the nature lovers and the cave at “Kleisidi” where there are old findings, utensils and skeletons of people who took refuge there during the Turkish rule. In the north of Metaxohori, at a great altitude, there is the cave of “Neraidogoula”, which presents an inexplicable phenomenon. Sometimes in August unbelievable quantities of water flow out of the depths of the cave, flood the “Psoriaris” river and cause catastrophes. Perhaps this is why it took the name “Neraidogoula”, that is the source of the Fairy. However, in Metaxohori, the village is dominated by the figure of the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis, 1871-1935. His contribution in the posts he served into was huge and his bust adorns the central square of Ierapetra. Metaxohori today waits to be repopulated, to be revived, since it has a wonderful climate and its air is scented by the verdurous mountain slopes of Dikti. Its few residents experience the tranquility and the solitude waiting for the emigrants, the mountaineers, the nature lovers to come and admire the village of the Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis.
Mournies (GR: Μουρνιές - meaning: mulberry trees) is a village of the western Ierapetra. It is located north of Myrtos, and 25 kilometers away from Ierapetra at 275m (elevation), built on the southeastern outskirts of the Lasithi mountains, with beautiful views of the Libyan Sea and the plains of Ierapetra. It has a mild climate, without extremes, ideal both for permanent residence and for holidays. The landscape is hilly plenty of olive trees. In the 2001 census it had 83 residents. Mournies is a beautiful, historic, picturesque and traditional village with cafes, a square with a war memorial, an old fountain, and narrow streets branching off the main street of the village. Mournies was named after the Mulberry tree which however is not abundant in the area.
Deep inside the valley of the river Sarantapihos is built the village Mythoi. It is 22 km away from Ierapetra, it is a small village, in a verdurous landscape,with a beautiful square under the shade of age-old planes. It is said that the village took its name from the plant “Minthi”, or mint, which is abundant there.However, it may have been named thus because of its many legends, traditions, and myths (mythoi), the most prevalent one being the Sarantapihos’ one. A mythical giant, forty ells tall, like another Talos or Akritas Digenis, he protected the residents from raids. There are the place names “Tou Sarantapihoui Patounia” (Sarantapihos’ footprint) and “Tou Sarantapihou to Mnima”(Sarantapihos’ grave). There is evidence of ancient habitation at the site “Leniko” where traces of walls can be seen. Also, in an excavation, the head of a woman of the Roman period has been found. At the sites Kastelou Haraki and Orfanou to Spiliari claypots, oil lamps, e.t.c. have been found. The site called Sarakina above Mythoi was a fortress, a hideout of Saracen pirates. The village’s modern history is rich in contributions to the struggles against the conquerors. It nurtured the chieftains Emmanouil Xenikakis, Ioannis Hatzakis, Emmanouil Christakis andothers. During the German Occupation, residents of Mythoi took part in the guerilla corpses of the United Resistance of Captain Bantouvas. In the battle of Symi, one of the most heroic figures was lost, Apostolos Vagionakis, who stood up to the enemy’s bullets for the ideals of our unsubdued Crete. They paid the price of their participation to the struggles during the German Occupation,as 4 persons were executed, including the old and bedridden Nikolaos Ioannou Christakis. The community of Mythoi is today a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra, in 1900 it had 360 Christian residents, in 1951 it had 423 and in 2001it had 287. In the north of Mythoi, around 6 km away, there is the settlementKarydi with the famous Monastery of Panagia (Our Lady) Karydiani and now abandoned summer residences. The mountainous settlement “Minos”, which is situated in a verdurous small plateau below the Afentis peak of the Lasithi mountains, also belongs to the Community of Mythoi.The village Mythoi is a lively village with a rich social and cultural life. It has a cultural association, a football team and field, and a modern olive press. The village’s square with its old plane trees, the mulberry trees, the old fountain,the traditional coffee-houses with the raki and the local dishes, is a place of reference for the residents of Mythoi. The sights, the wild natural landscapes in the north of the village, the famous gorge of Sarakina, a monument of natural beauty, attract a lot of local and foreign visitors. The gorge of Sarakina is one of the most beautiful in Crete. Its steep, vertical sides cause awe, and reach a height of up to 250 m. Its widest opening is no more than 15 m while in some places it’s so narrow that its sides seem joined. Its rich flora and fauna, dittany,the wild birds that nest there and the route inside the gorge are breath-taking. Its promotion is a foremost goal of the Local Department and the Municipality of Ierapetra, of the residents of the village, who head to the future with optimism and anticipation for the development of their place. Source:The Municipality of Ierapetra.
A monument of natural beauty that attract a lot of local and foreign visitors. The gorge of Sarakina (GR: Σαρακίνα) is one of the most beautiful in Crete. Its steep, vertical walls in some parts reach a height up to 250 m. Its widest opening is no more than 15 metres while in some places it’s so narrow that its sides seem to join each other. Its rich flora and fauna, the dittany, the wild birds that nest there, the running water make the route through the gorge a worthwhile experience.
At a mountainous, precipitous site, in the west mountain slopes of Dikti, at an altitude of 550 m above sea level and at 2 km from the village of Malles, is built the village Christos (GR: Χριστός – Christ). Christos is a beautiful, verdurous village, with many running waters, traditional, unchanged by time, with narrow sloping cobbled alleys.
A small village built at an altitude of 540 m in the south parts of the mountain Dikti at the borders of the province of Ierapetra-Viannos. The imposing mountains above the village, the south horizon among the olive-covered hills and in the lower villages, the cool climate create in you a sensation of bodily and spiritual well-being at this balcony of the Cretan nature. Five settlements, two of them uninhabited today, constituted the Community of Riza, now a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra.