Sitia is the easternmost city on Crete near the Cape Sidero, 64km from Agios Nikolaos. It is a city with about 10,000 residents, built on the west side of the bay of Sitia, on a warm and dry area. Sitia has the only airport in eastern Crete and the most important port, with ferries running to Piraeus, Milos, Rhodes, Kassos and Karpathos. There are frequent bus services to Ierapetra and Agios Nikolaos, and great efforts are being made to improve the road network linking it with the rest cities of Crete. It is a very well organized city with many shops, tourist facilities, hospitals, banks, etc. The residents work mainly with agriculture and tourism.
In Sitia, apart from swimming in the long beach east of the city, you can stroll in the harbor, enjoy your coffee in the many cafes in the beach road, get lost in the old town with the traditional houses and the picturesque yards, visit the castle Kazarma and the ruins of a Venetian monastery. Moreover, you could visit the Archaeological Museum with exhibits from 3500BC to 500AC, all coming from the wider area of Sitia. A folklore museum exhibition also operates in the town with traditional objects of 19th and 20th century. Lastly, it is worth visiting the local produce stand, where you can learn about the products of Sitia. Among them are olive oil, Cretan wine and raki. Indeed, the oil of Sitia is the best in the world, winning several international awards every year.
Sitia is inhabited since the Neolithic Era. Minoan palatial buildings and walls have been excavated in place Petras and a plate of Linear A has been found there. The city is considered to be built at the site of the ancient Itia or Sitea, which was the home of Myson. Myson has been reported as one of the seven sages of antiquity, replacing Periander. Also, the ancient Etia (another name of Sitia) was Praisos’ Port. Praisos was the strongest opponent of Ierapytna city.
During the Byzantine period, the town flourished as a commercial port. The medieval city was a castle, i.e. was protected by a large wall and the fortress Kazarma, located today on a hill near the port.
When the Venetians conquered the island, they gave great importance to the area and tried to fortify it. Sitia then faced a big boom in all sectors and became the largest city in eastern Crete. One of the greatest representatives of Greek Literature was born then, Vitsentzos Kornaros (1553-1613), with his famous love poem "Erotokritos" and the dramatic poem "The Sacrifice of Abraham".
A great earthquake in 1508 and the constant raids of the pirate Barbarossa in 1538 destroyed much of the town. In 1651 the Venetians demolished the fortification, before handing Sitia over to the Turks.
During the Ottoman rule, the city and its castle Kazarma were rebuilt and Sitia was given the Turkish name Avnie. This name lasted only for a while, because Crete was later liberated.
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The Archaeological Museum of Sitia operates since 1984 and hosts the most important archaeological finds from eastern Crete (from Sitia, Palekastro, the islets of Mochlos and Psira, the necropolis of St. George, the palace of Zakros, the Hellenistic town of Xerokambos, Ziros, Makrigialos, Lefki island and ancient Itanos).
Castle Kazarma (Casa di Arma) is built on a hill near the port of Sitia, reminding of the old times that it protected the town. The fort is the only surviving part of the old town walls, which were destroyed by the Venetians.
The Folklore Museum of Sitia was founded in 1975 and is housed in a beautiful neo-classical house. The collection refers to the town of Sitia in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century.
Sitia is the easternmost city on Crete and is located 64km east of Agios Nikolaos. The wider area of Sitia province hosts several small beaches where you can enjoy the sun and the sea. However, some who prefer to stay close to town, can visit the long city beach.