Sitia is located on the eastern side of Crete and has a population of approximately 10,000 residents. It is characterized by its architecture that creates an amphitheater-like environment on the hill of "Bonda" towards the northern bay with the same name. Sitia belongs to the last areas of Greece that were slowly introduced to the tourist map, preserving its beauty unchanged.
History of Sitia, Crete
Sitia has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and experienced even greater growth in the 2nd century BC. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, Sitia had its own currency and continued to develop.
During the Venetian rule, Sitia prospered from the early days of Venetian conquest. During this period, many castles and fortresses were built in the city, with the Kazarma fortress being the only one that survives today. In 1508, a devastating earthquake struck the city, and thirty years later, it was attacked by pirates. In 1538, the pirate Barbarossa attacked and caused irreparable damage to the city. In 1648, during the Turkish siege, Sitia began to be abandoned, but the garrison resisted until 1651. Afterwards, the destruction of the walls and major buildings took place to prevent their surrender to the Turks.
In 1870, Hussein Avni Pasha purchased the old Sitia and relocated the provincial capital there, renaming it Avniye. During the occupation in 1941 by Italians and Germans, the people of Sitia organized resistance against the invaders. The monks at Toplou Monastery also participated in the resistance, despite the risk of destruction by the Nazis.
Beaches in Sitia, Crete
The province of Sitia in Crete offers a variety of beautiful beaches, each with its own characteristics and charm. Some of the most significant ones are mentioned below:
- Sitia Beach: A large organized beach located near the town of Sitia, offering all the amenities for visitors. It is suitable for water sports and is crowded during the summer.
- Mochlos: In this beach in the beautiful fishing village of Mochlos, you can enjoy the clear sea and explore the ancient ruins of the Minoan settlement on the opposite island.
- Agia Fotia: This beach is located in front of the homonymous settlement and offers tranquil waters and options for accommodation and dining.
- Papadiokambos: In Papadiokambos, the wilderness is complete, and this beach is ideal for those seeking solitude and tranquility.
- Makry Gialos: This beach is suitable for families and offers luxury accommodation and entertainment.
- Koutsouras: Koutsouras is a newly built settlement that offers a wonderful beach with clear waters and pebbles.
- Moni Kapsa: This beach is isolated and quiet, ideal for those seeking peace and seclusion. It is recommended to avoid nudity due to its proximity to Moni Kapsa Monastery.
Each of these beaches has its own unique character and offers different experiences to visitors. They are an excellent choice for exploring the beautiful Sitia region in Crete.
Sights in Sitia, Crete
- The Archaeological Museum: The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from various periods, with the largest and richest collection coming from the palace of Kato Zakros. The findings span approximately 4,000 years, from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Roman period. One of the most famous objects in the museum is the golden figurine from the Minoan city of Palekastro.
- The Toplou Monastery Museum: It hosts interesting collections of Cretan icons and engravings, including the Panagia of Amiantos, the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Panagia of Amolintos, and Christ Pantocrator, all from the 15th century.
- Ancient Itanos: Located in the area Eremoupolis, near Vai, it is an ancient city first mentioned by Homer. Its history dates back to prehistoric times, and it was an important trading hub with connections to the Near and Middle East. Today, there are remains of the large fortress-tower on the western acropolis, the large Early Christian church on the eastern acropolis, the Hellenistic neighborhood, and two Early Christian churches.
- Kazarma: It is an impressive Venetian fortress built in the 13th century and is currently used as an events venue.
- Trypitos: In Trypitos, the Hellenistic city of Trypitos, which is believed to be the ancient city of Itanos, has been revealed. Excavations have uncovered various ruins, houses, cemeteries, and coins from different periods.
- Mochlos: On the island of Agios Nikolaos in Mochlos, you can find the archaeological site of Mochlos, an important Minoan settlement with a harbor. Excavations have revealed various phases from the Bronze Age.
Activities in Sitia, Crete
Sitia is an area distinguished by its contrasts, between the semi-mountainous and coastal environment, and between Mediterranean vegetation and rugged landscapes.
- Hiking: Hiking is an excellent way to explore the diverse aspects of the region. The Sitia Geopark has created numerous geotrails that include hiking, biking, and driving, connecting geological landmarks, habitats, archaeological sites, historical locations, and settlements. These trails offer the opportunity to explore the geology, nature, and culture of the area. Hiking routes include international trails like the European Path E4, locally organized routes, and paths connecting old settlements. There are over 11 organized hiking routes crossing the area, with varying levels of difficulty and durations ranging from 1 to 2.5 hours. This allows you to choose a hike that suits your preferences and abilities. Most of these routes are easily accessible, covering distances from 3 to 7 kilometers.
- Geotourism: Geotourism is a significant focus in Sitia, with the Geopark covering a plethora of geosites such as rock formations, fossils, caves, gorges, landforms, and more. Geoguides in the area enhance the understanding of the region's geological history and evolution. Designed routes allow you to explore these geosites, with maps and signage guiding visitors along the paths.
- Water Sports: In Sitia, there are also opportunities for water sports such as windsurfing and SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding), especially in the Kouremenos Bay. Here, you can enjoy strong winds favorable for windsurfing. There are also windsurfing schools that offer training and equipment for this water sport.
- Rock Climbing: If you are a rock climbing enthusiast, the Dead's Gorge in Kato Zakros offers climbing routes with permanent safety measures on steep limestone walls.
- Cycling: There are cycling routes in the area that allow cyclists to enjoy the landscape while passing by various attractions and natural beauties.
How to travel to / from Sitia, Crete?
- Ferry Routes Kasos - Sitia, Crete: The duration of the route is approximately 2 hours and it operates twice a week by the ferry company Blue Star Ferries with the ship "Chios" The cost of a one-way ferry ticket is €11.
- Ferry Routes Piraeus - Sitia, Crete: The route operates twice a week. The travel time ranges from 12 to 14 hours with intermediate stops in Santorini, Anafi, and Heraklion. The cost of a one-way ferry ticket is €45.5, and the route is serviced by the ferry company Blue Star Ferries.
- Ferry Routes Karpathos - Sitia, Crete: The duration of the journey is approximately 4 hours. The route from Karpathos to Sitia in Crete is served by Blue Star Ferries and operates twice a week. This route operates year-round, and the price of a one-way ticket starts at €17.5. The ferries accommodate both passengers and vehicles.
How to book ferry tickets to Sitia, Crete?
After selecting the appropriate ferry route, you can easily and quickly book your ferry ticket to Sitia through booktickets. Complete your reservation to secure your place on the ferry in advance.