Sitia

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Sitia

We made our home in Sitia for fifteen days and we thoroughly explored the eastern part of Crete in 2003 and visited several times since then. We enjoyed many relaxing days by the sea, visited many important archeological sites, and spent our nights in the company of friends. While most travel guides state the rich natural and cultural resources of the island, the local people are those who make a visit to Crete a unique experience. We've had immensely rewarding holidays as a family in Sitia, and the contribution of the local Cretans to that effect can hardly be overstated.

Sitia itself is a modern town built on a low hill overlooking the wide Sitia gulf. It is clean, orderly and charming with many cafes and tavernas lining its promenade which frames the modest fishing harbor. At night its streets, and especially the port, teem with the activities of the locals who make it a habit to dress up, and to stroll slowly by the water where they can meet friends and relatives, and where the children can play energetically under the watchful eye of their parents.

The town welcomes visitors, but it is obviously not built around tourism. While accommodations abound in the form of modest hotels, restaurants, car rental offices, and a small number of tourist shops, the rhythm of the streets beats to the tune of the local needs. Most restaurants for instance are geared towards serving the demanding local population with authentic food, and the numerous cafes and bars accommodate mostly local and visiting-for-the-summer Greeks.

Olive oil, wine, and above all agricultural produce is the main industry of eastern Lasithi, with tourism relegated to an auxiliary role. The land's fertility is celebrated during the "Sultana" festival in the end of August with much wine and dancing.

Facts

Sitia has a small airport which connects it to Athens twice per week (about €80), and to the small town of Alexandroupoli in Northern Greece.

"Rakadiko" is a shop where you can go enjoy a class of raki (or two) with "mezedes" (little bites of food). Sitia has several rakadika along the promenade.

Ferries from Piraeus visit three times per week.

Sitia Population: 11000

Sitia Coordinates:
35:12:46N 26:05:52E

The visitors are by no means neglected in Sitia, but instead they are afforded more attention and better services according to our experience. The entire land east of Sitia lacks none of the conveniences of the modern world, while the pace of life is slow and relaxing. In short, Sitia is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing holiday away from the homogenized comforts of mass-tourism.Sitia is also a popular hub for savvy island hoppers who can catch a ferry to nearby Karpathos, and from there they can sail to Rhodes and all the other Aegean islands. There are plenty of hotels and apartments for rent, and a popular long stretch of sand lines the coast within walking distance from downtown. It is a nice beach, and we did swim there several times when we did not want to drive, but it is no match for the more exciting swim spots of the East coast which one can visit using the local buss service.

The place which Sitia occupies today has been inhabited since neolithic and Minoan times, and there are enough ruins in the area to testify to extensive Classical and Hellenistic settlement. It was an important center during Byzantine times, and acquired much wealth and power under Venetian rule in the middle ages. During this time it was destroyed twice by earthquakes and endured the wrath of the Turkish pirate Barbarossa in 1538. The town was sacked by the Turks a century later, and it was abandoned until 1870 when it was settled again.

The archaeological museum of Sitia was a pleasant surprise. It exhibits a wealth of important artifacts from the various archaeological sites of eastern Crete, most important of which were the so called "Palekastro Kouros" ivory statuette, and a number of tablets of linear A script found at the palace of Kato Zakros.

Athens map. Satellite picture
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