Sitia is one of the most beautiful, cleanest, cheapest, with many hotels and also animal friendly cities in Crete. Much like an amphitheater built on the back of the hill of the same name, recalls the town to places in Italy.
History of Sitia
That is not so very surprising, since the region was under Italian influence during the expulsion of the Turks and the reconstruction of the city in the late 19th century, and during the Venetian period in the Middle Ages, as well as during the occupation in WW2.
It’s not totally sure that ancient Iteia or ltis, the port of Praisos, had been in the exact location of actual Sitia. The French archeologist Basouquet is certain that the ancient city had been on the mountain / hill where the neighborhood of Petra is nowadays, due to the fact a portion of a Minoan village was discovered there during an excavation in 1901.
Anyway, the area should have always been populated as is proven by Postpalatial and Neopalatial tombs, Hellenistic and Geometric sculptures, Roman remains as well as an Early Christian basilica.
When the old city of Ierapetra defeated Praisos in 146 B.C. the population scattered, a lot of them getting refuge in the port of the city, Iteia. After that it started to expand into a strong, self-governing city having its unique coins.
The city existed all subsequent time and the Venetians had great plans for it in the 14th century. They fortified the old town and the extended the fort which was taken from the Genoese. In 1508, however, an earthquake put a lot of houses in ruins and the city was finally destroyed in 1538 by the Turkish pirate Barbarossa.
In 1651 the Venetians, confronted with the rising Turkish hazard, evacuated the residents to Liopetro. Sitia failed to exist for the following two hundred years. It was re-inhabited in 1870 by the Turks. In 1897, it was besieged by Cretan rebels and finally occupied by French forces.
Nowadays, established as it is along the side of the hill, Sitia is extremely charming having its unique distinctive style. Alongside its wonderful strand lined with tree heather you may still find traditional stores beside new ones.
On the promenade north of the center – in the direction of the large ferry terminals – are the remains of Roman fish tanks. Freshly caught fish was kept there until consumption. The water tanks were now integrated into an artificial pond along the concrete promenade and is populated by colonies of swans, ducks and geese.
To the east and north of the city there are beautiful beaches for swimming. The town beach is surprisingly nice, with sand and beautifully clear water. It runs far to the east of the city away and is therefore rarely anywhere really occupied.
The Archeological Museum of Sitia had been established in 1984. Inside a huge gallery are exhibited discovers coming from all the times within the province of Sitia, primarily from the location of Mochlos, Ayia Photia, Mochlos, Zakros, Palaiokastro and Pseira, with an information guide to support the guest.
The most significant exhibits are: a wine-press, figurines, tablets in Linear A, early Minoan vases, vases from the Palace of Zakros, a flour mill from the Hellenistic period, Graeco-Roman objects, and more.
Additionally, there is a Folklore Museum in Sitia having great collections of local costumes, weaving, furniture, embroideries, looms, household items, and many others.
The Venetian fortress ‘Kazarma’ (Italian ‘Casa di Arma’) prevails over the old town. Unfortunately, inside it has been destroyed and gutted largely, why it is often used now for open-air theater, concerts and exhibitions. Anyway, the view from the battlements is magnificent.
The city was also the birthplace of one of the most important writers of Crete. Vitzentzos Kornaors wrote at the end of the 17th century the epic ‘Erotokritos’, the most famous work of ‘Cretan Renaissance‘.
Hotels in and around Sitia
Overview of available hotels in and around Sitia at the best price!
More pictures about Sitia
Video about Sitia
Directions to Sitia
Even the trip from Aghios Nikolaos to Sitia along the coast is spectacular and justifies the visit!
Link to map with directions:
Click here: Directions Sitia.