Lasithi Sightseeing

Charming Villages & Settlements
Lasithi prefecture, just like Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion, is full of traditional villages and historical settlements scattered throughout its extend.
Cycladia offers you a tour of the main spots you should definitely visit in order to feel the unique aroma and ambience of this majestic place!

Kato Zakros is one of the principal settlements of the eastern coast. The landscape here is particularly wild and imposing as it is composed by giant, bare mountains and steep slopes on one side and the endless Libyan Sea on the other. The place is full of archeological findings, such as the ancient Minoan palace of Zakros, so it has remained mostly pure and untouched for the antiquities’ sake. However, you will find some basic accommodation units and traditional taverns with authentic Cretan specialties. You can access Kato Zakros by car or bus, or even on foot through the famous Gorge of the Dead (almost 2 hours walking).

The wider area of Palekastro is a place of genuine Cretan tradition, untouched by modern development. Palekastro is one of the main villages of the prefecture offering accommodation, traditional taverns and a few cafes. Angathias is a very small village right next to Palekastro with small stone paved alleys and very old, mostly abandoned buildings. Both settlements offer easy access to nearby beaches like Chiona and Kouremenos.

Pressos - Archeological Site
The archeological site of Pressos in located northeast of Agios Nikolaos. This was the town of the Eteocretans, the descendants of Minoans. The Eteocretans together with the Dorians built the new town in the 12th century, from which only remains survive today.

The town had two ports, one in the north (Itia or Sitia) with access to the Cretan Sea and one in the south (Stiles) with access to the Libyan Sea. The town was destroyed by Ierapytna in 146 B.C.

The excavations on the site brought to light a Hellenistic palace and objects made of copper and clay, helmets, shields and three plates with Eteocretan writings.

Gournias - Archeological Site
The archeological site of Gournias is located 18 km northeast of Agios Nikolaos. A Minoan settlement was found here with houses, roads and a big building on the hill top, considered to be the house of the town lord. The town was built in 1600 B.C. and was destroyed around 1450 B.C. like the rest of the Minoan Palaces. The name Gournias comes from the small ponds (gournes in Greek) found in the site.

Lato - Archeological Site
Almost 10 km southwest of Agios Nikolaos, in Kondaratos, lay the ruins of the ancient Dorian town Lato pros Etera. The mother of the ancient Gods Apollo and Artemis, Lito gave its name to the town. The name Etera (meaning “different” in Greek) was given to distinguish it from its seaport Lato pros Camara (Agios Nikolaos). Lato was one of the most powerful towns of Crete and the archeological site includes public buildings, the agora, forming a pentagon, and lots of houses.

Zakros - Archeological Site
The archeological site of Ancient Zakros is located about 8 km northeast from Zakros village and 39 km from Sitia were today lies the small settlement of Kato Zakros in the easternmost spot of Crete. It was the 4th and smallest Minoan Palace of Crete and the only one that has not been plundered. Built around 1600 B.C. in a similar pattern with the Palaces of Knossos and Festos, it covers 8000m2 and consists of 180 departments.

The excavations brought to light important findings such as vessels, swords with golden foils, ivory objects, ornaments made of copper from Cyprus, all exposed in the Archeological Museum of Heraklion.

Named after its Phoenician founder Itanos, this town flourished from the trade of glass and porphyra (a natural dye coming from sea shells). Another important factor for Itanos’ prosperity was the temple of Dikteon Zeus, located in Palekastro, which, apart from   great profit, it also brought about a lot of conflicts over its control with Ierapytna and Pressos. Itanos was destroyed by an earthquake in 795 B.C. and then by the Arabs in the 9th century. Today the place is full of scattered ruins such as the outpost in the west citadel and the Early Christian church in the east citadel, the Early Christian temples on the foot of the hill leading to Vai area and the cemetery outside the town.

The fortress of Spinalonga was built in 1579 on a small island named Kalydon protecting the gulf of Mirambello. Its solid structure and big canons kept it impregnable during the war between the Venetians and the Turks. In the first half of the 20th century (1903-1957) the island operated as a hospital for the lepers by the Cretan State. The name Spinalonga comes from an expression “Stin elounda”, “Stinelonda”, which the Venetians changed it to spina, which means thorn, and longa, meaning long. Therefore Spinalonga means long-thorn. Visitors can access the island by boat from Elounda and Plaka.

Toplou Monastery
One of the richest and most prosperous monasteries in Crete is the Monastery of Toplou. It is located 6 km north of Palekastro and was constructed in the 15th century in a rectangular shape, surrounded by a thick wall 10m tall. Its principal characteristic is its 33m high bell tower. During the Turkish occupation it served as a refuge for the rebels and during the German occupation it was the basis of a secret radio station by the resistance.

Very well preserved murals of the 14th century decorate its walls and plenty of distinct paintings such as "Axion Esti" by I. Kornaros in 1770.
Toplou is also a producer of fine olive oil and biological wine.

Gorge of Ha
Gorge of Ha is located near the village Kato Horio in the mountain of Thrypti, north of Ierapetra, and is about 1km long. The entrance of the gorge is only about 3m wide and its narrowest pint is 30cm. Towards its end the highest waterfall in Crete is found (215m height). The gorge is rich in flora and fauna, despite the fact that its largest part was burnt in 1984 and in 1987. It is considered to be the wildest and most dangerous gorge of Crete and it is not recommended for amateurs, without proper equipment and a guide.

Gorge of the Dead/Zakros
In the Municipality of Itanos, 39 km east of Sitia, the Gorge of the Dead or Zakros Gorge is found. Its entrance is near the village of Ano Zakros and it ends at Kato Zakros. The scenery is fascinating but wild and bare, so make sure you are supplied with water and a hat. You will encounter plenty of small caves which served as tombs during the Minoan era, hence the name Gorge of the Dead.

Pervolakion Gorge/Kapsa
This beautiful gorge is in the south east part of the prefecture, almost 9km away from Makrigialos to the east. Near its mouth to the seashore is the Kapsa Monastery. The Gorge is about 4 km long, leading to the village Pervolakia and crossing it takes about 2hrs. It is easily accessible with only a few steep spots and the scenery is arid but very imposing.

Other Interesting Gorges
Oreino Gorge/ Red Butterflies’ Gorge
Oreino Gorge starts from the village Oreino, leading after a 4 hour hiking to the seaside Koutsouras village, in the south. It is named after the red butterflies that lived in it but while a big fire in 1993 burnt a part of it reducing the red butterflies’ population, the flora is still lush.

Selinari Gorge
Selinari Gorge is located between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos in the eastern part of Selena Mountain. It is a natural passage from Lasithi to Heraklion north coasts. Selinari has lush vegetation and you can cross it on foot or by car following the old National Road. The gorge and the surrounding mountains shelter many birds and, once, the rare wild goat of Crete (kri kri).

Richtis Gorge
The gorge of Richtis is located between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. Its entrance is just outside the village Exo Mouliana and exits at the pebbly beach of Richtis. Its length is about 3 km and the hiking takes approximately 4 hours. The gorge has plenty of water, even in summertime, and a waterfall of 15m height. You will also meet some old water mills.

Archeological Museums

The Archeological Museum of Ierapetra was founded in the end of the 19th century and today is housed in the building of the Ottoman Commercial School.
The exhibits include objects of Minoic to Hellenic-Roman art such as sculptures, statues and tomb writings.

The Archeological Museum of Sitia was founded in 1984 and its collection includes findings from the later Neolithic until the later Roman period, along with the marvelous figure made of gold and ivory, which was found in the Minoic town of Palekastro, findings from the Minoic Palace of Zakros and from Sitia area.

Agios Nikolaos’ Museum hosts the most recently excavated objects from eastern Crete, such as early Minoic findings from Myrtos, figurines and pottery items from the region of Mohlos, vessels from the archeological site of Zakros, and various other objects from Sitia and Elounda.

Folk Museum of Sitia
The Folk Museum of Sitia is housed in a traditional building owned by the Municipality and its collection is constantly enriched. The exhibits include all kinds of traditional Cretan house objects, traditional furniture, clothes and costumes and old embroideries which are a real work of art. There is a traditional kitchen, with furniture and all necessary cooking utensils and tools for the preparation of dishes and sweets, and an old loom with all its accessories.

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