Koufonisi is a small island in the Libyan Sea just off the South East coast of Crete and the Cape of Goudouras. It is also named LEFKI and gave its name to the municipality. There is a cluster of small islets in the area like Makroulo, Strogylo, Trahila and Marmara. The island is deserted and in many spots it is covered with sand reminding an African landscape. Until 1976 the shepherds used to feed their sheep there but it was not inhabited. Later the Archaeological Offices of Eastern Crete under the authority of N. Papadakis began the excavations and the island proved to be full of ancient sites. A beautiful theater, made of stones, at the North West end of the island opposite the Marmaras islet was discovered. At the South East of the theater where a settlement was found, a villa with 8 rooms and a guest room was brought to light. The excavations also showed a workshop where the famous purple robes of the Romans was made. They also dig out an astonishing building, the Public Baths, dated back to 1st and 4th A.D. and ruins of an old temple. Boats depart daily from Makrygialos to Koufonissi (during the tourist season and only if the weather permits) offering day-trips.
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.
Palekastro (Palaíkastro GR: Παλαίκαστρο) is a lively, unpretentious town, at the east coast of Crete 20 km. away from Sitia and the seat of the Municipality of Itanos. It was named after an old castle. Its sources main income is agriculture and tourism. Although the town is growing, it manages and retain its character and charm. The town's square is the center of activities and is lined with cafes and taverns. Many a pleasant hour can be passed here, watching the world go by. During the summer months, weddings are often held in the village, with the huge wedding feast taking place in the square, to which everyone is invited. A chance to try your hand at Cretan dancing!
The Monastery of Kapsa is located 40 km from the town of Sitia at the exit of the Pervolakia Gorge built against the steep rocks overlooking the Libyan sea. The exact time of the foundation of the monastery is still unknown, while some believe that it was in the 15th century. Until 1841 there were only a small chapel dedicated to the Saint John the Baptist and a few cells.
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.
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 Handras (or Chandras (GR: Χανδράς) is in the Municipality of Lefki at the Armeni-Handras plateau and 27 km from the town of Sitia. First recorded in a venetian census in 1583 as Candra and Chandra with a population of 399 like today. Ancient Minoan sites were found at the Plakalonia area as well as at the Gras and Katrani places. There is a peak sanctuary at the hill of Xykefalo between Handras and Kasteliona at an altitude of 705 m. In spite of its looting a lot of ancient objects were found. The cave of Panagia Gouda is at the Handra region. This region includes the communities of Voila, Agios Panteleimonas and Pano Panteli. At Pano Panteli there is an old church the Metamorfosis in which there is an inscription that says: Petro Abramo was here in 1486.
The settlement of Voila (GR: Βόϊλα) is 1km away from the village of Handras. It is a medieval deserted village protected by the Greek Archaeological Authorities. Passing through the village's alleys you can still see the ruins of old houses and their rooms, their venetian features and through this sacred silence of the place you have the impression that you hear the Byzantine king, the medieval knight or the Turk fighter gallop away. The name of the village probably comes from the Byzantine word VOILAS or VOLIAS meaning the nobleman, the land owner. In a census carried out by Kastrofilaka in 1583, the village of Voila had a population of 301. Many elements show that the village belonged to the venetian family of Zenos which during the Turkish occupation adopted the Ottoman religion and was renamed.The tradition says that he was the owner of a Castle in Voila which has an external inscription with the date 1153 equal to 1742 of the Christian diary. At the south of the castle there is a ruined church known as the church of Ginali. Other attraction at the area is the old painted church of St. George dated back to the 15th century. From the inscription it is obvious that there is a family tomb of Salamons. The Solomons of the island of Zakynthos where our national poet Dionisios Solomos comes from, are believed to having been descended from the Salamons of Sitia. At the top of the hill overlooking the village there is a fortress dated back to the Venetian occupation of the island of Crete.
Piskokéfalo (GR: Πισκοκέφαλο), a principal village located 3 km south of Sitia. Piskokefalo is the birth place of the great poet Vincentzos Kornaros, who wrote the masterpiece of Medieval poetry, "Erotokritos". The village is mentioned at the census of 1577 by Fr. Barozzi, and became the seat of the commanding officer, after the destruction of the town of Sitia in 1538 by the pirate Chairentin Barbarossa. Nowadays Piskokefalo is a beautiful village where a stop is worthwhile. The visitor can see the house of Kornaros, enjoy a coffee or a meal at the village's square, visit the spring at Zou, the old water mill, the church of "Agia Anna" and the small chapel of "Panagia Trapezounta".
Erotokritos (GR: Ερωτόκριτος) has been characterized as a masterpiece of the Greek language which unites the magic of myth and a deep understanding of everyday life. It expresses the "threefold ideal which is bravery, beauty and wisdom." A work rooted deeply in authentic Greek traditions, humanity, true feeling and pure love for life and freedom. The story takes place in Athens where King Herakles lives with his wife Artemis and their very beautiful daughter Aretousa, with whom the handsome and brave young man Erotokritos, son of the king's advisor, has fallen in love. After many difficulties and trials, the couple is married amidst celebrations and magnificent contests. The world of this work is the ideal Greek world of friendship, pure feelings, authentic Greek traditions. It is the world of the beauty of Athens and Crete which is "the throne of virtue and the river of wisdom." The language of this work is authentic Greek and Cretan, a synthesis and conscious effort of the poet to express lofty human feelings and values with simplicity, directness and truth. The poem was written by Vitsentzos Kornaros (1553-1613/14) a noble Cretan from Sitia with a very strong presence in Greek letters.