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CONTENTS
 
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Lassithi occupies the far-eastern part of Crete and it is divided into eight

municipalities. It has a variable and contrasting landscaped, home to endless, sandy beaches and

fertile plains, embraced by three seas, the Cretan Sea in the north, the Libyan Sea in the South and the

Carpathian Sea in the west. Its mild, purely Mediterranean climate is without abrupt fluctuations and

pleasant year round.

Location

The prefecture of Lassithi occupies the far-eastern part of Crete and it is divided into eight

municipalities. It has a variable and contrasting landscaped, home to endless, sandy beaches and

fertile plains, embraced by three seas, the Cretan Sea in the north, the Libyan Sea in the South and the

Carpathian Sea in the west. Its mild, purely Mediterranean climate is without abrupt fluctuations and

pleasant year round.

Transportation

From Athens there are regular flights to the airport of Sitia, situated 69 km east of Agios

Nikolaos, while regular boat itineraries sail from Piraeus to the ports of Agios Nikolaos and Sitia.

Frequent bus schedules and local taxis meet the flights at the airports. Public transportation connects

all the villages and sites within the prefecture.

History

Excavations at Diktaion Andron cave, at Trapeza cave, at Karfi and Plati, indicate that the area

has been inhabited ever since the Neolithic Period. Later in the years, it was part of the ancient city of

Littos which thrived. During the Cretan fight for liberty from Venetian Rule and Turkish Occupation,

the Lassithi plateau provided refuge to the persecuted fighters, a fact that forced the Venetians, in

1263, to forbid all establishment and cultivation in the area.

Sightseeing and monuments

The prefecture is steeped in ruins of ancient cities, settlements and buildings. There are quite a

few spots worth visiting in Lassithi, like the Archaeological sites of Gournia and Zakros, the Diktaion

Andron on Kikti mountain, the 15th century Toplou Monastery and the islet of Spinaloga with its

famous Venetian castle. The cosmopolitan air of the island blows strong in Elounda, while other - no

less beautiful - cities, towns and villages, like Ierapetra, Aghios Nikolaos (capital of the Prefecture),

Sitia, Neapoli and Makrigialos, complete the diverse picture of this corner of Crete. Unique to all of

Greece, and a "must see" is the forest of Vai, an area filled with palm trees. The plateau of Lassithi is

one of the most beautiful areas in Crete. It is a green, fertile valley (817 m. altitude), covering an

extension of 25,000 sq. km. full of cultivation of potatoes, garden and fruit products and almond -

trees. The scenery's beauty is completed with the 10,000 windmills, which are scattered here for the

area's watering.

Cultural events

Lassithi has a rich spiritual tradition, perpetuated from generation to generation. An ancient

tradition, the tradition of popular "festivities" or family gatherings adds a particular vivid colour in

the local way of living, although inevitably affected by modern lifestyle. Cretan dances of unparalleled

grace, vivacity and gallantry, rouse people of all ages during social gatherings or festivities. People in

Lassithi love to celebrate. Religious and cultural festivities are held throughout the year, some of them

with ancient origins, others steeped in history and tradition. Easter is the most important religious

festival, celebrated with processions and religious services. During the summer many local festivals

with traditional atmosphere are celebrated in picturesque villages, a perfect scene to observe the rural

reality of the prefecture and an ideal chance to taste dishes of the local gastronomy.

People and lifestyle

Population totals approximately 70,000 and the principal occupations are farming and

stock-breeding. Known for the generosity of their spirit, the locals like visitors, they are pleasant,

graceful and hospitable. As their glorious and turbulent history indicates, they are driven by a

powerful desire for freedom and independence, which is reflected in every expression of daily life.

Their intense character combined with a strong sense of family loyalty, often leads them to actions

that may be viewed as extreme by outsiders, manifested in generations-long "vendettas" between

families. Customs and traditions are kept alive. Many still wear the traditional costumes, sing

traditional Cretan songs and dance local dances. In the domain of arts, especially in the domain of

woodcarving, many craftsmen have become famous especially in church ornamentation, most of them

well preserved until now, unique for their inspiration and fine technique. Lassithi has always shown a

remarkable production of home handicraft, resulting in fine works of art with exquisite

decorations.

Natural Environment

Being the most eastern part of Crete and at the same time the southernmost part of Europe,

Lassithi presents a particular interest, featuring local indigenous species of plants (not to be found in

other parts of the island), as well as plants that can only be met in Asia or in Africa. Luxuriant

vegetation is present at all times in the plains and on the mountain slopes, even during the summer.

Selakano with its pine forest, Katharo with its cypress forest, Selena with its "Azilakos", the

palm-tree forest of Vai and the plateau of Lassithi are really unique. Tens of gorges, plateaus and

more than 1300 caverns embrace the indigenous beauties of the fauna and flora of eastern Crete.

While most of the 2000 indigenous plant species of Crete are found in Lassithi.

Sports and Leisure

At the organised beaches of Lassithi Prefecture, in Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Sitia, one can

rent all the necessary equipment for water-sports, wind-surfing, pedal boats and canoes. For the fans

of basketball, volleyball, football and tennis, there are courts and fields in the luxurious hotels and the

big cities. The National Pool in Agios Nikolaos organises swimming tournaments. The areas of

Spinalonga, Chrissi and Palaeokastro are ideal for fishermen, while the mountainous parts of the

prefecture are ideal for those who prefer mountaineering.

Nightlife and entertainment

It's never too late or too early in Lassithi. There are many bars and night clubs in Agios Nikolaos ,

Ierapetra and Sitia, playing a variety of music and keeping holidayers dancing until dawn. There is a

wide variety of lively places, from open-air terraces, where one can dine or have a drink, to cinemas,

discotheques, pubs, etc. Nightlife for everyone, excitement, enjoyment and pure entertainment.

Gastronomy and Shopping

A superb specimen of a healthy Mediterranean diet based on the "blessed" olive oil, the local

cuisine is accompanied by a selection of wines famed since classical times. In the coffee shops visitors

are served "custom-made" coffee or successive rounds of "raki", a local spirit. At the tavernas

visitors will enjoy "dakos" local bread, myzethropita (cheese pie), chochlious bourbouristous (fried

escargot) and sweet smelling wines. The market of Agios Nikolaos has a wide variety of local

products such as cheese, wine, raki and tsipouro. At the beautiful village of Agia Fotia, the locals

produce fresh honey of excellent quality. At the local shops, one can purchase beautiful embroideries,

woven-fabrics and ceramics. At Kritsas, the local women make lovely, detailed embroideries. At Agios

Nikolaos, one should buy wood-curved and woven objects, as well as jewellery. Crete's rich tradition

in hand-woven fabrics, embroideries, wood-carvings and jewellery-shopping is a real temptation to the

visitor. Exambles, old and new, can be found in the marketplace of the cities and also in the villages,

where visitors may have a chance to see these age-old craft being practiced.

Conference facilities

The prefecture of Lassithi has been one of the leaders in Cretan tourism industry for over 30

years, boasting an important tourist infrastructure, including unique conference and incentive

facilities. Aghios Nicholaos and nearby Elounda have developed into top-caliber tourist resorts with

many large hotel complexes.



USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS



Airport of Sitia: +30 28430 24424

Port Authority of Agios Nikolaos: +30 28410 22312

Port Authority of Ierapetra: +30 28420 22294

Port Authority of Sitia: +30 28430 22310

Agios Nikolaos Bus Services: +30 28410 22234

Ierapetra Buses Services: +30 28420 28237

Sitia Buses Services: +30 28430 22272

Agios Nikolaos Police: +30 28410 22251

Ierapetra Police: +30 28420 90160, 28420 90176

Sitia Police: +30 28430 22259

Agios Nikolaos Tourist Police: +30 28410 26900

Agios Nikolaos Health Care Centre: +30 28410 25221

Ierapetra Health Care Centre: +30 2842 90222

Sitia Hospital: +30 28433 40100