Kastelli is a small town in the center of the prefecture of Heraklion and the province of Pediada, in one of the most fertile areas of Crete. It is located 36km southeast of Heraklion and at an altitude of 350m. It is called Kastelli after the fortress of Pediada that was built here and was the seat of the local province during the Venetian Era.
The local economy is based on the cultivation of olive, vine and various vegetables. Kastelli has always been the commercial center of the area and even today it hosts the central outdoor bazaar of Pediada every week. The small town, as well as the wider region, hosts some great Byzantine churches with old frescoes and a Minoan settlement within the town's limits.
Kastelli hosts the most important military airport in eastern Crete, while the Heraklion International Airport is also planned to move here.
The fortified monastery of Agarathos is located 23km east of Heraklion in a wooded location at an altitude of 538m near Episkopi. The monastery, especially during the Venetian Era, was one of the richest in Crete owning several other monasteries in Heraklion and Lassithi prefectures. It is considered the first in the hierarchy of the monasteries of the island.
Ancient Lyktos or Littos is located near the settlement of Xidas. The city was one of the strongest of ancient Crete, an eternal enemy of Knossos and owned the port of Hersonissos. It is reported by all the major ancient historians.
The monastery of Kallergis or Kaleris is located southeast of Smari village, about 35km east of Heraklion and 4km north of Kastelli. It is built in a wooded area with many hills and mountainous morphology.
The pond of Livada is located at the homonym position 1km north of the village Thrapsano and is one of the favorite places for locals to walk. The small lake covers only 21.000 sq.m., but is an important wetland, where more than 130 species of birds have been met.
At Kastelli Pediada we meet traces of a settlement that flourished in the Minoan Era and was built since the Neolithic Period. The settlement had developed around a central two-story building of large dimensions, the architectural remains of which are visible today in the square of St. George.
The fort Castel Pediada was not built on a hill, but in the valley of the current town of Kastelli Pediados. It was mainly an administrative building, since it was housed several administrative and military authorities.
This part of the E4 is one of the easiest you can find in Crete as it is entirely through paved and dirt roads (in fair condition). As it is quite long, you can explore it by car, but we suggest thinking of cycling. The route offers good views to the olive groves of Pediada province.
Near Diavaide there is the church of St. George Sfakiotis, bearing frescoes of the 14th century (there is an inscription of 1390). One of the frescoes represents St. George and St. Demetrius on horseback crossing the sea with octopuses, crabs, eels, and lobsters below their legs.