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About Lassithi Prefecture, Crete Greece

The Prefecture of Lassithi covers the Eastern part of Crete; its extent is 1822 square kilometers , the coast line 400 kilometers approximately, and it counts circa 77 .000 permanent residents. It is washed by the Cretan Sea at the North, by the Carpathian Sea at the East and by the Libyan sea at the South, whereas at the West it borders the Heraklion prefecture. It is divided in 4 provinces: Ierapetras, Lassithiou, Mirambelou and Sitias. Aghios Nicolaos is the capital city of the prefecture.

The coastal partition is deep, with several bays and small coves, capes and peninsulas. The western part of the inland is covered by the Mont Dikti, of a height of 2.148 meters, the place where, according to Mythology, had been born Zeus, the king of gods. No considerable rivers are found in the prefecture’s territory, only several small torrents. It has a Mediterranean climate, very favorable for cultivation. Vineyards, olive trees, industrial and cattle breeding plants, citrus trees and wheat are the main agricultural products cultivated in the area. People are also occupied with fishing and cattle breeding, whereas the recent decades a good deal of the income comes from tourism.
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As it occurs with the rest of Crete, visiting the villages of the inland is a fascinating experience. Both the natural environment and the character of all these villages make the visitor conceive the kind of beauty they have. Many of them are not affected by tourism, they maintain their traditional features in what concerns the architecture, and their residents proudly maintain a traditional way of life, full of consistence, insistence and dignity. You think that those features emerge from the earth, that it is the place itself bearing them. As in the whole island, both for the landscape and for their character: It is in those villages that the visitor can understand the special characteristics of the Cretan people, experience the hospitality and taste and smell the spirit of the area. Moreover, in the villages of the prefecture, the visitor can attend a wide range of cultural activities, where tradition is blended with everyday life, forming the actual face of culture, the modern face of Crete.

Going from one village to another by car, motorbike, or sometimes on foot is, in most cases, one of the attractions of the place. The secondary roads, often difficult, dirt tracks, leading to them pass through sites extremely scenic and beautiful, and driving, or even walking there, is an unforgettable experience.

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Lassithi prefecture has coasts at the North, in the Aegean Sea, at the South, in the Libyan Sea and at the East, in the Carpathian Sea (Aegean). Most of the beaches are sandy, some of them well protected from the winds as they are found within small, protected coves. Swimming starts earlier in the South, where the weather is a bit warmer than in the North.

The natural environment is partly mild and partly wilder; however, you will never find here the wild landscape of Psiloritis or of the Lefka Ori. Extended areas of the inland are dedicated to agriculture and the visitor will come across extended enough fields with vegetables, olive trees plantation and vineyards. Vegetables are also cultivated during winter in greenhouses situated all around at the plain. However, as the mountains are not absent, there are magnificent places there too; small gorges, caves, narrow roads leading to intact, remote, traditional villages.

The territory of the prefecture is crossed, from Southwest to Northeast, by the last part of the European path E4, which passes through the whole of Europe and Greece and ends up at Crete; in the island the path starts from Kissamos (Kastelli) and ends up at Siteia in the Eastern part.

Lassithi is a pretty wealthy place. Along with the traditional agricultural and cattle breeding activities, which used to be the main occupations of the locals in the past, trade and tourism, as well as other services are today one of the main economic resources. The area attracts a lot of visitors all year round, both Greeks, for business or vacation, and from abroad.
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As in the rest of Crete, the history of the area starts as early as the Neolithic times. As excavations, quite extended in the 20 th century, in various sites have shown, not only had it flourished during the Minoan period, but, in fact, it was one of the most important centers of this great civilisation. During the Venetian domination of the island, the role of the area was not as important as Heraklion; however, it seems to have attracted the attention of the Venetian dominants, as it can be suggested from the number of castles and forts, preserved in the territory of the prefecture.

During the Ottoman domination the area participated to all the revolts and revolutions of the island, as the independent character of the people and their fervent desire to live in a free country could not be compatible with being under the yoke of any foreigner.

During the World War II, following this long tradition, the people had strongly resisted to the German occupation and the Italians who followed them, although the place was not a main target for the Germans as Chania or Heraklion.
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