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
Lake Voulismeni (Gr: Λίμνη Βουλισμένη) or just "the Lake" for the locals, is located at the centre of the town of Agios Nikolaos. It has a circular shape of a diameter of 137 m and depth 64 m. The lake connects to the harbour of the town by a channel dug in 1870. A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from a small park situated above it. According to legend, the goddess Athena bathed in it. Every year at midnight turning to Orthodox Christian Easter day, the majority of the population of the town gathers around the lake to celebrate with fireworks, and firecrackers. It was reported that the German army during their withdrawal from the area at WW2, disposed parts of their weaponry and/or vehicles into the deep lake. A local urban legend has it that the lake is bottomless. That notion is potentially based on its impressively disproportional high depth compared to its width (64m depth on only 134m width) or/and on locals noticing disturbances at the surface or also the level of the water during the Santorini (Thera) earthquake of 1956. Because of the latter, many assume a possible geological relation of the two locations, but this claim has not been substantiated by known scientific surveys to date.
The Archaeological Museum of Aghios Nikolaos is one of the most important in Crete and has been in operation since 1969. It houses collections of very important archaeological finds from the whole of Eastern Crete, an area extending from Malia as far as Zakros. These are displayed in chronological order from the Neolithic period (5700 - 2800 B.C.) to the end of the Roman times (100 B.C. - 400 A.D.) Its showcases include more than 1350 vases from the 3rd millennium B.C. as well as gold and copper finds (the most ancient found in Crete).
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.
The Folk Art Museum of Aghios Nikolaos, in collaboration with the "Cultural Society of Eastern Crete", founded in 1978. All the original and important material was generously offered by the Touring Club of Aghios Nikolaos. Since then more objects have been added to the collection. A visit to the Folk Art Museum will help you to become familiar with the sort of work and activities the people of this area had in the old days. The Museum houses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of genuine samples of Cretan popular art and mainly hand woven and embroidered pieces, some of which are unique.
Well protected Marina by all weather condition, build to European standards and capable to accommodating up to 255 boats all year round. The Marina of Aghios Nikolaos is located in the heart of the town, provides all the necessary facilities for a pleasant short or long stay for yacht passengers and a safe environment for the boats. Facilities: Water/Electricity:Each berth has access to a service box where fresh water and 220 / 380 volt electricity available.
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.
The museum was founded at the end of the 19th century, during the Turkish occupation of Crete and was housed in several buildings in the past. Today it is housed in the building of the Commercial Ottoman School, which is protected by a preservation order. The collection includes findings from the broader area and from the Minoan to the Roman period. Among the items are painted sarcophagi, lamps, vases, figurines, relief plaques. One of the most important exhibits of the museum is the Clay sarcophagus dated to 1450-1400 B.C.
The fort, built by the Venetians and Known to Ierapetrans as the "Kalés" (GR: Καλές), has been erected on the top of the southernmost mole of the ancient harbour. It is one of those monuments of the past which, because of its solid construction and the fact that it was still garrisoned until the latest years of the last century, still exists today to serve as a reminder of some of the nation's most difficult times.