They say this part of Crete, in the eastern side of the island, is different, intact and authentic. It’s the land that gave refuge to the ancient Eteocretans, the true Minoans, who were hiding from the war rage of the Dorians. This is the land that gave birth to the poetic tradition of “Erotokritos”. A unique philosophy of life that is based on the joy of love, celebration, kindness, open-heartiness, a sweet “craziness” and a never-ending mood for teasing the foreigners in a dialect that bursts of lyrism and images. Here, in the charming capital of eastern Lasithi and the birthplace of the famous Cretan poet of the Renaissance, Vitsentzos Kornaros, hides the most secret and unknown face of Crete.
Amphitheatrically built around a beautiful bay on the north-eastern part of Crete, the easternmost large town of Crete mesmerizes the visitor with its serine and romantic atmosphere.
The city’s most popular attraction, Kazarma or Casa di Arma, an imposing Venetian fortress of the 13th century, stands strong on a slope as proof of the city’s medieval glory. The exceptional Archaeological Museum, the arc of Sitias’ history from the Minoan civilization to the Greco-Roman era houses innumerable treasures. The highlight of the museum is the magnificent chryselephantine statuette of the Minoan Palaikastro Kouros. The heart of the city beats on the port and the beautiful paved peer with tall palm trees where locals and visitors love to stroll around, next to the traditional restaurants, the vibrant cafes and pubs.
From here, all roads lead to the exotic palm forest of Vai, the only forest of its kind in Europe and one of the most famous sights in Crete. An unexpected scenery of an African oasis next to a golden beach. Further north, overlooking the emerald waters of Erimoupoli, stand the ruins of the Phoenician colony of Itanos, recounting the days of glory and grandeur of one of the most powerful and rich cities of the ancient world. East of Sitia, in the middle of a magical plateau with vineyards and olive groves, stands the famous and strong Moni Toplou, the historic medieval monastery and fortress of the 14th century. Visitors are amazed by the impressive architecture and local pink stone, the rare ecclesiastical treasures of the monastery’s museum and the famous winery.