Ierapetra lies at around 35km south of Agios Nikolaos and is the
largest city in southern Crete with a population of around
11,000 people. The surrounding area has a rich, fertile soil and
warm sunny climate for most of the year. Consequently, its main
industry, along with tourism, is the cultivation of fruit and
vegetables. The land around the city abounds with lemon and
The modern city stands on the site of the ancient city of the same name which thrived during the 2nd century BC. The city continued to flourish during the Roman Period and, in the 13th century, it was taken over by the Venetians who constructed its fortress and completed the fortifications of the town. The fortress was given the name Castle Gerapetra but is known locally as Casteli or Kales.
Interesting places to visit are the Archaeological Museum where many of the findings of the area are exhibited. In the neighbourhood of the old city there is a Turkish area which has a mosque dating from the period of the Ottoman Empire. Close by are several significant churches: the 14th century Church of Metamorphosis of Christ and the churches of Agios Nikolaos; Agios Ionnis and Agios Georgios.
Opposite the Kales is the Church of Panagitis or Panagitsa of Kales. The Kales itself is worth looking at. It is located on the south pier of the ancient harbour and had four towers on each corner of its walls with an indoor courtyard that contained a reservoir. From old prints, it is known that the rooms of the castle spread underneath the ramparts. During the Ottoman Empire the fortress was expanded and renovated.
Unfortunately however, it has not stood the test of time and much of its splendour has now disintegrated. There is a Proto-Minoan village that dates back to 2,600-2,300 BC in the village of Vasiliki which is fairly close to Ierapetra. Boat trips also leave the harbour every day in the summer to the small island of Chrisi. . .