Agios Nikolaos Crete
Agios Nikolaos, is the capital town of the prefecture of Lasithi.
A busting tourist resort with plenty to see and good tourist
services, a popular tourist spot with many visitors coming every
summer to enjoy the stunning beaches. It stands on the bay of
Mirabelo and is one of the centres for financial and public
administration for Crete. Its main attraction is the Voulismeni lagoon which is
connected to the sea by a canal with a bridge linking the two
sections of the town. The lagoon has a small park where you can
take a very pleasant stroll along the trails. This is a very
picturesque section of the town with traditional fishing boats,
many waterside cafes and an amphitheatre.
There is a bridge (built in the late 19th century by Adossides Pasha) which spans the lake. All along the shores of the lake there are charming tavernas, cafes and restaurants, whilst at its southern end there is a zoo. Also of interest are the Archaeological and Laographic Museum and the Koundourios Municipal Library. From the harbour it is possible to take a boat excursion to Elounda and the island of Spinalonga
The town itself is well organized for tourists with many shops, taverns, cafes, restaurants, hotels and bars. Despite its popularity the town still maintains its traditional character with narrow stone lanes opening out into shady squares and attractive houses built in the traditional style. According to historians the town stands on the site of ancient Laro or Hetera which flourished in the 3rd century BC.
Places of interest to visit are the Lake
which is at the entrance of the harbour. According to mythology,
it was here that Diana and Athena bathed. The Lake is between
60-64m deep and has a circumference of 137m.
Quite close to Agios Nikolaos is the extraordinary Diktaean Cave, possibly the most famous ad important of the 3000 caves in Crete. Rich in stalactites and stalagmites it s atmosphere is eerily cold, damp and deafeningly silent.
Legend has it that Zeus was born here and over the eons it has been a place of worship and sacrifice to the gods. When the Cave was discovered an alter with the remains of offerings was found. The Cave consists of five separate chambers with, at its lowest point, a lake encircled by massive stalactites and stalagmites including the enormous Mantle of Zeus which hangs over the lake and resembles an elaborate chandelier. At the back of the lake is a small chamber where it is told Zeus was born.
West of Agios Nikolaos, close to the boundary between the prefectures of Heraklion and Lasithi, is the Plain of Lasithi, an attractive plateau with picturesque windmills and surrounded by charming villages.