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Ierapetra, Lassithi Crete

Ierapetra is a modern town by the sea, at the Southern coast of Crete, at the Libyan Sea. Situated at a distance of 35 kilometers southern to Aghios Nicolaos, it is the most southern town of Europe, facing the African coasts. It counts some 12.000 permanent residents, which makes it the more populated town of the Lassithi prefecture and the fourth in population in the island.

Both the town and the nearby beaches offer a considerable number of hotels of any category and a lot of rooms to let. Many restaurants, traditional taverns, bars and cafes, open all day round, give to the visitor several alternatives for food, drink, nightlife and amusement. There is also a well-organised market, where the visitor can find a wide range of necessary products, from food and traditional products to gifts, house equipment and clothes. Combining the full facilities available, with the interesting sightseeing in the area, with the beautiful sea and the excellent dry climate (it is the place with the less raining rate all over Europe), where the temperature hardly falls below 12 o C all year round, Ierapetra is an ideal choice for staying, strolling around in the scenic narrow streets of Kato Mera (the old town), shopping, spending the holidays. Many people, both Greeks and from abroad, choose to come here; it is a town for everyone, for any age and status, for the young people and couples as for families will small kids.

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There are many things worth seeing in Ierapetra; in the past, the Venetian castle of Kales, built in the 13 th century, overlooked the harbor; unfortunately today it is ruined and stands only in front of the church of Panaghia of Kales, dedicated to the Presentation of Holy Virgin, a church built on the ruins of the Catholic church of the Venetian period.

Western to the castle, in the quarter of Sarakina, there is the church of the Transfiguration of Christ, Afentis Christos (“Christ, our Lord”) or Sotiras (Savior) as the locals call it. The church, built in the 14 th century, has an interesting wood carved icon screen.

Within the old town there are also the churches of Aghios Nicolaos, going back to the period of the Venetian domination and Aghios Ioannis (St. John), which had been transformed to a mosque during the period of the Ottoman domination. The church of Aghios Georgios ( St . George) , built in 1856, actually the cathedral of the town, and that of Aghios Spyridonas, built in the 14 th century are also worth seeing.

Don’t miss to see the Archaeological Collection and the Folk Museum of the town; housing exhibits from antiquity and of the recent past respectively, they give to the visitor a complete image of history and every day life of the people in the area.

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Out of the town, it is worth seeing the church of Timios Stavros and Eleoussa, with the miracles working icon of Panaghia (Holy Virgin), brought in Crete by the refugees from Asia Minor. You may also visit the Holy Monastery of Agiasmeno, at a distance of 3 kilometers northern to Ierapetra, as well as the Byzantine church of Aghios Georgios (St. George) at Episkopi, 7 kilometers far from the town at the Northeast.

Apart from churches and sightseeing within the town, it is worth visiting the area around. You may drive up to Kato Chorio , some 7 kilometers at the Northeast to enjoy your coffee at the square of the village, under the thick shade of trees. Or, you may visit the dam of Bramiana , with the scenic artificial lake, used to water the fields of the area, at a distance of 7-8 kilometers northwestern to Ierapetra.

During summer you may visit the islet of Chryssi, at a distance of 8 nautical miles southern to Ierapetra; excursion boats, with frequent daily service, will get you there. Chryssi is worth visiting both for the nice beaches and for its natural beauty. There is a cedar wood on the islet, a good number of fossilized shells and a very interesting well-preserved ecosystem, with rare species.

Swimming is possible at the long sandy beach in front of the town, well organised; several good beaches are found westwards (up to Myrtos) and eastwards (up to Makrygialos) and you may always catch the boat and go to the islet of Chryssi.

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A series of cultural activities, the “Kyrvia”, named after the name of the ancient settler of the town, are organised in summer.

If you like local feasts (“panighyri”), several ones take place in the area: on the 21 st of May in honor of Aghios Constantinos and Eleni, at Gra Lyghia, on the 27 th of July, in honor of Aghios Panteleimonas at Vainia, on the Pentecost at Kentri, on the 15 th of July, in honor of Aghios Kerykos at Stavros, on the 20 th of July, in honor of Prophet Elijah at Kato Chorio.

In case of health problems a Hospital is available in the town and a local Medical Center at Kato Chorio; you can also address to the pharmacies of the town.

Access from Aghios Nicolaos and Heraklion is possible by public bus, with frequent service, as well as with rented or private car and motorbikes. The town is 59 kilometers far from the Sitia airport and 95 kilometers far from the International airport of Heraklion. In summer excursion boats, with frequent daily service, connect Ierapetra with the islet of Chryssi.

In the port of Ierapetra facilities of mooring and supply of yachts are available. 
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