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 hosts 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 on 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. Sitia area is famous for the kicak production of agricultural products; olive oil, wine and raki. Indeed, the olive oil of Sitia is one of 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 and its archaeological site covers a vast area, still not fully excavated.
During the Byzantine period, the town flourished as a commercial port. The medieval city flourished as 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 most 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.
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.
The archaeological site of Trypitos is located on a small peninsula, 3km east of Sitia, near the beach Karavopetra, which has stunning view to Sitia city. It is considered to be the ancient city of Sitia, Itia, which was originally the port of Praesus. The city flourished in the Hellenistic period (350BC-50BC).
The ancient Itanos was one of the strongest cities in Crete, especially during the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman times. The name comes from its founder Itanos, who came from Phoenicia. Its territory, during its peak, stretched from Cape Samonio (current Cape Sidero) to Cape Erythrae (current Cape Goudouras).
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.
A few meters north of the main port of the city of Sitia, the main road that leads to the airport passes by the Chlouverakis Park. Right next to it is the picturesque cove of Soultanina. Access is very easy either by car or on foot.
Vai was totally unknown until the early 1970s, when a popular commercial for the Bounty chocolate with coconut was filmed here, using the magical background of palm trees. In the advert, coconuts were falling from trees, however Vai palms produce dates. Consequently coconuts had to be falsely hung to create the right impression. The ad made this unknown earthly paradise renowned throughout the world.
The Lighthouse of Sitia, also known as Exo Fanari, is located on the cape Vamvakia north of Sitia airport. It belongs to the network of lighthouses built by the French Lighthouse Company at the end of the 19th century throughout Crete and was put into operation in 1892.