Getting around Lasithi
In the heart of the central plain, east of Heraklion lies the
small town of Neapoli in the Lasithi prefecture. This
traditional Cretan town is surrounded by mountains abundant with
native olive trees and almond trees. This attractive town has
narrow cobbled streets with a large central square fringed by
Located on the square is the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary where, on 15th August, a holy festival takes place with singing and dancing. Sights to see in the area include the chapel of Ayios Georgios Selinari and the Milatos cave which has a small chapel inside that is dedicated to St. Thomas. Inside the cave is very dark so make sure you have a torch. The cave itself is very large ( 73m long and 63m at its widest point) with eight entrances. The church was built in 1935 and houses the bones of locals who were murdered by the Turks in 1823.
It was here that the residents of the surrounding villages hid from the Turkish invaders, fighting went on for two weeks in February of that year culminating in the slaughter of the Cretan rebels.
Heading southeast around the cape you come to Agios Nikolaos. Other places around the plateau to see is the Kroustallenia monastery close to the village of Agios Georgio. The monastery, which is built on a verdant hill, was probably founded sometime in the C13th and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Look out for an old oak tree that grows out of a large rock. This tree has 18 trunks, each one symbolizing the villages that encircle the Lassithi plateau.
The coastal region lying to the north of Agios Nikolaos is one of the most touristic on the island with major holiday resorts such as Skhisma, Elounda and Plake receiving a busy trade every summer. Heading southwards from Vai is the village of Zakros and around 8km from the village is wonderful village of Kato Zakros with its superb pebble beach and dazzling sea that is well protected from the wind.
Although the village itself is quiet, especially in the mornings and evenings, Kato Zakros is a popular destination for day trippers who come to see the remains of ancient Zakros. This comprises the fourth largest of all the Minoan palace, some houses from the Late Minoan period, two further building complexes and some first-rate artefacts from the Mycenaean period.
Right in the heart of east Crete is the ancient settlement of Praisos, the capital city of the Eteocretans who settled here in 1000 BC following the Dorian invasion. The ancient town was built on three hills and enclosed by walls. Traces of these fortified walls can still be seen on the highest of the hills and also the remains of a temple and some houses.
If you are looking for a busy, organised resort with plenty of nightlife then Lerapetra is a good choice. It is the most southerly town in Europe and, as such, has a mild climate and very little rain. An excellent choice if you are considering a winter break in Greece. . From the small harbour, boat trips are available to the beautiful Chrisi Island with its turquoise sea and white sandy beaches.
Travelling further westward along the coast road are more traditional villages fringing the Libyan ocean. Close by, on the Amari plain, is the Potami Lake shaped by the Potami dam. Built in 2008 its capacity is around 23 million cubic metres and is already attracting an abundance of birds and animals, as well as visitors who enjoy the beautiful, natural scenery. .