Guide to Lassithi


Agios Nikolaos: Until the late 1960s it was enough to describe this town as a quiet little port-town, noted for its healthy climate and fine beaches. It is still that, but something new has appeared alongside: international touristic development.

The chief attraction of the town has always been the harbour with nonchalant activity: an occasional fishing-boat puts in, a naval patrol keeps guard, once in a while a large tourist cruise sails in, but mostly the cafés and strollers create their own slightly narcissistic excitement.

Bottomless Lake: Perhaps the most spectacular natural attraction of the town is the dark, so-called “bottomless lake” Voulismeni, situated some meters to the west of the sea harbour. The pond’s diameter is about 60 meters, and despite its reputation for being bottomless, the water gets quite solid about 64 meters down.

Kritsa: The village has a spectacular position, clinging to the steep mountain-side and with a superb view over the Gulf of Mirabello-especially from all those balconied houses that crowed the slopes.

Lato: Founded in the post-Minoan period, probably as a Doric settlement, most of the remains date from later, Hellenistic times-mainly the 3rd century B.C. In its day, Lato must have been a fairly impressive and prosperous city. The extensive remains rise in banks or tiers as in an amphitheatre, with two acropolises, fortifications, houses, shops, cisterns and roads.

Olous: Since there are no longer any visible remains to aim for, here along the shallows, you should be able to make out some remains of what are thought to be ship-births of ancient Olous, the port of Dreros, sunk due to local subsidence.

Ierapetra: This is the largest town on the south coast of Crete. By the beginning of the 1970s, a chance and rather sudden coincidence of commerce, tourism and antiquities that appeared on Ierapetra’s doorstep conspired to change things.

Gournia: An early Minoan settlement grew up and prospered, and by 1600 B.C. it must have been a flourishing town, self-supporting if not self-governing. Digging began in 1901 and by1904 virtually the whole town had been unearthed – the answer to an archaeologist’s dream, Miss Boyed.

Sitia: The town is a travel-poster version of a quiet little Mediterranean port, with cafés along the harbour and the air of awaiting that never come in. The Venetian fort has little of the glory that Venetians projected for it.

 Kato Zakros: The discovery of a Minoan palace at Kato Zakros has been one of the most exciting archaeological developments in recent decades. Digging began in the autumn of 1962 and the result has been the unearthing of the 4th great Minoan centre.

Toplou Monastery: Founded some time in the 14th to 15th centuries, the original building was destroyed by an earthquake in 1612 and reconstructed that same century with its distinctive bell-tower and named Toplou (cannon) by the Turks.