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Sitia, Lassithi Crete

Sitia is a coastal town, situated within the homonymous bay, on the Northern coast of Crete. It is found at a distance of 64 kilometers far from Aghios Nicolaos at the East, 129 kilometers eastern to Heraklion and 61 kilometers northeastern to Ierapetra. It counts some 10.000 permanent residents.

Sitia is the birth place of the famous Cretan poet of the 17 th century Vitsenzos Cornaros and one of the most ancient towns of Eastern Crete; it has been firstly established and flourished during the Minoan period and it was active in all historical periods ever since, from Classical times up to the present. During the Venetian domination it had suffered various damages: in early 1500 by an earthquake, later on by the pirates and in 1651 by the Venetians themselves, who destroyed the town so that it was not conquered by the Ottomans; as a result, the town was abandoned for almost two centuries, up to 1870, when people started to inhabit it again.

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Once in the town , you should visit the Archaeological Museum, established in 1984; it is a modern museum with a rich collection of pottery, tools, weapons and other items from the area around Sitia. The town has also a Folk Museum with a good number of exhibits and a representation of a traditional Cretan house.
You may also visit the scenic port.

The area around the town is full of natural sightseeing and interesting human remains of all periods of time.

There are several sites of the Minoan period, as the ruins of the Minoan settlement at the village of Petras, an interesting building and the cemetery at Aghia Fotia, the very important house of the Middle Minoan period at a distance of 2 kilometers far from the village of Chamezi, the vaulted tomb at “Platys Skinos”, the farmhouse at Achladia.

The inhabitants of the island, Dorians and Eteocretes, have continued the Minoan tradition in historic times. The famous city of Praissos, close to the actual village of Nea Praissos, had flourished throughout historic times and mostly during the Hellenistic period.

The Venetian domination (1204- 1645) has also left its traces in the area; the most important Venetian monuments are the castle of Casarma and the ruins of another castle at the site of Liopetro.

Many churches, very old or more resent, as well as several monasteries are also worth mentioning. The small church of the cemetery of Sitia, dedicated to the Ascension of Christ, has been built on the ruins of the older Venetian church of Santa Maria. The country church of Aghioi Pantes (“All Saints”), 7 kilometers far from the town at the South is located within a picturesque landscape in a small ravine full of plane trees and current water. The Holy Monastery of Faneromeni , at a distance of 8,5 kilometers western to Sitia is an old monastery, established in the 15 th century. The church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos (“St. John the Evangelist) is located within a cave, near the village of Piscokefalo. The church of Aghios Nicolaos at the village Roussa Eklissia is interesting for the water spouting of its foundations. And of course, at a distance of 12 kilometers northeastern of Sitia, there is the famous historic Toplou Monastery, dated back to the 15 th century, with the interesting museum.

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Apart from ancient sites and churches, there are also more modern constructions worth seeing in the area. First of all, don’t miss to visit the winery of the Union of Agricultural Co-operatives of Sitia, located at the 3 rd kilometer of the National road leading from Sitia to Aghios Nicolaos; apart from the good wines you may buy, you will also see the exhibition of wine equipment. At the village of Maronia, 8 kilometers far from Sitia at the South, you may visit the old, restored oil-press workshop of the village. And, if you like to know more about the way of life today and in the past, don’t miss to get around in the numerous small settlements with only few residents, leading a traditional living; the people will receive and treat you with pleasure.

A totally modern construction worth seeing are the aeolic parks close to the settlement of Xirolimni and at the Toplou Monastery; exploiting the energy of the strong winds of the area, the aeolic parks offer to the population of Sitia “clean” energy.

A good number of hotels of any category are available in the town; there are also several cafes, restaurants and taverns for food and drink as well as bars and clubs for nightlife and amusement. The market of the town is also good enough, well equipped in food, house equipment, souvenirs and clothes.

There are several beaches in the area to choose for swimming; most of them are beautiful and very clean (some of them have been awarded the blue flag); you may swim at the beach near the port, at Petras and Aghia Fotia to the East, or at Aghioi Pantes, Platani and Papadiokammbos at the West.

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A series of cultural activities, the “Cornaria” (in honor of Vitsenzos Cornaros), organised by the Municipality of Sitia, take place in July and August at the castle and at the port. However, the peak period is the week 15-20 of August, when it takes place the Feast of the Sultana raisin (kind of raisin).

Several local feasts (“panighyri”) take place, mainly in summer, in the area around: on the 15 th of August at the Monastery of Faneromeni, on the Ascension day at Papadiokampos, on the 20 th of July, in honor of Prophet Elijah at the village of Messa Mouliana, on the 14 th of September, in honor of the Holy Cross at Sfaka.

In case of health problems a Hospital is available; you can also address to the pharmacies of the town.

Access from Aghios Nicolaos, Heraklion or Ierapetra is possible by public bus with frequent service, as well as by rented or private car and motorbikes.

Sitia has also a port and it is daily connected with Pireaus and Milos; there is also a ship to and from Kassos, Karpathos and Rodos (Rhodes), 2 – 3 times a week. The port offers facilities of mooring and supply of yachts.

Some 2 kilometers Western to the town it is found the small airport; Sitia is connected by air with Athens, Thessaloniki , Alexandroupolis and Preveza (Aktion airport). 
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