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Greece » Crete » Lassithi Prefecture » Lassithi Beaches » Island of Lefki or Koufonissi
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Island of Lefki or Koufonissi, Lassithi Crete

At a distance of 3,5 nautical miles South-Southeastern to the Cape of Goudouras and 10 nautical miles Southeastern to Makrygialos it is found the islet of Lefki, called also Koufonissi by the locals, a small island without permanent residents, the bigger of a complex of islets in the area. The islet is cited by Plinius and has been flourished during the Roman period; excavations on the island have brought to light a considerable Roman theater of some 1000 seats. The island has beautiful sandy beaches and all its territory is covered by fine sand, reminding the deserts of Africa. Until the 1970’s the islet served only as pastureland; no settlement is mentioned throughout modern history.

In antiquity Lefki was an important center of fishing of sponges and of treatment of the porphyre, the well-known conch from which ancient people extracted the precious vivid red color, use to dye the royal textiles and cloths. Apart form its importance in trade, the island had also an important strategic place; as a result, the cities of Ierapetra and of Itanos fought for its possession; Itanos was the victor.

Excavations carried out in the 20 th century have brought to light extraordinary finds, as the stone theater of the Roman period with a capacity of 1000 seats and the ruins of an important settlement. Both seem to have been destroyed since ancient times. Other interesting finds are the magnificent villa of which 8 rooms are preserved and another house within the settlement of 16 rooms and, most of all, the building of the Roman baths, used from the 1 st until the 4 th century A.D., with luxurious decoration.

At the Southern part of the island it has been found a temple, which survived until 1920, when it was totally destroyed, in order to build a lighthouse at its place. Various parts of a statue have been detected, the smaller of which have been included in the building material of the lighthouse.

The entire islet is full of ruins of human activity starting from the Early Minoan period and ending up to the post-Byzantine times. At the western coast, there have been discovered caves that had been used as churches, with figures of Saints carved on their walls and inscriptions in Latin.

The local use to say that Koufonissi is the Delus of Crete, because of its archaeological importance and the interesting finds, still being excavated.

Access from AghiosNicolaos or Ierapetra is possible by rented or private car and motorbikes up to Makrygialos (from Ierapetra to Makrygialos you may also use the public bus). Excursion boats depart from Makrygialos to Lefki every day in the morning; you may check the schedule at Makrygialos.
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