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In the southernmost part of Greece, the island of Crete lies in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Crete is a blessed land that for thousands of years has been the cultural and commercial crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Crete is Greece's largest island at 250 km wide and between 14 km and 38 km wide and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. Mountains cover two thirds of the surface area with three main ranges forming a backbone along the island. Crete was the birth place great personalities of culture such as the great painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos, (called "El Greco") and Nikos Kazantzakis the author known for his Zorba the Greek.Crete was the birthplace of Zeus and here bloomed the glorious Minoan civilization. It is a different world with its own tradition, character and dialect compared to other parts of Greece.
The local people are very proud of their Cretan origin and history. Although Crete has been invaded throughout time and it have not changed the character of the island and the Cretan people have remained relatively unscathed and retain their justifiable pride in their island and their culture. English is the widely spoken language throughout the island and if you want to obtain an answer from a local you will be invited to sit and drink the traditional "raki" and you will be welcomed as if you are a long lost friend. Crete is famous for its fruit and vegetable production and it is famous for its world-known Cretan diet based on vegetables and pure olive oil. It is a self sufficient island with thousands of olive trees and also exports thousands tonnes of sultanas annually. But no other Greek island is as agriculturally diverse with potatoes, cereals, walnuts, chestnuts, tomatoes and citrus fruits all produced in abundance.
Here you can find more than 1,500 varieties of wild flowers and the mountains are known for their scent from heathers and wild herbs. Crete is also a staging post for migratory birds to swell extensive local birdlife. The mountains are mainly limestone which has helped the formation of more than 2,000 caves many with archaeological or historical interest. For beach lovers, Crete has more than 1,000 kilometres of Coast Line, much of which is suitable for swimming, sunbathing and just having fun in general and the majority of the beaches on Crete have been awarded the International Blue Flag status for their high quality and cleanliness.
Crete is a spirited and enchanting place with a wonderful climate with the earliest and the longest summers in Greece. High temperatures and guaranteed summer sunshine are characteristic with subsequent water shortages and there are only five rivers that do not dry up in summer. In spring the island is awash with flowers many native to the island and by July the days are extremely hot. Rainfall is virtually non existent between mid-April and the end of September. Autumn storms can last a week or so. November can be a warm, balmy month and the big tour operators have ended their seasons by then. The long, high mountain ranges down the backbone of the island can result in marked regional variations and fierce storms in the north may never reach the sheltered south. In general the south is hotter than the north and the west wetter than the east. The mountain regions are always cooler and are often covered in snow well into the spring.
Ravishing scenery, picturesque harbours, ancient Minoan palaces and Byzantine churches are but a few of Crete's pleasures. Add to that the friendliness of the Cretan people and one has the setting for a memorable conference destination. Crete demands to be explored by car or by jeep and there are several interesting excursions that may be organized. The most important landmarks that can be visited are Heraklion, the capital of the island with its world class Archaeological Museum and the Palace of Knossos dating back to 1500BC. There is the town of Rethymno with its Venetian Fortress and the old Turkish quarter with mosques and minarets. Also, there is the town of Chania, a typical Venetian town with a small secluded harbour with picturesque houses and cafes. Last but not least, the port of Aghios Nikolaos with a small lake which is the heart the town (according to myth the goddesses Athena and Artemis used to have their bath and it's also said to be connected with the Santorini volcano) and the village of Elounda around the Bay of Mirabello with the famous island of Spinalonga, are all visiting points. Trekking through the Samaria Gorge, mountain biking on the Lassithi Plateau with its countless windmills, listening to traditional Cretan music played by the lyra during one of the Cretan nights and shopping for handicrafts and local wines can be a part of interesting activities.
We welcome you to Crete!
Aghios Nikolaos (or simply known as AGHIOS for the local Cretans), is the provincial capital of Lasithi, which is found in northern part of Crete, on the western side of the Merabello Bay. Its name was given from the Byzantine church which is found near the bay of Aghios Nikolaos. An older known name of the area was Mantraki, and another known name is Gialos, which is still use by the residents of the surrounding villages. An important landmark is the Lake Voulismeni. A small Lake which is the heart of this small town. According to mythology the goddesses Athena and Artemis used to bath here. There is a myth that the locals say to their friend visitors, which is that the lake doesn’t have a seabed. Also it is believed that the Lake is connected with the Santorini volcano. Others remember that before the German soldiers left Crete at the end of the Second World War that they throw all their ammunitions and vehicles in the lake.
Elounda is a Cretan seaside village, which is located in Northern Crete 10 km from Aghios Nikolaos with many shops, restaurants, bars and exceptional hotels that are famous for their high level of services that they provide. Opposite Elounda you will find the famous island of Spinalogka. The name Spinalogka originated from the Venetians (Spina=spine, logka=long). Spinalogka from ancient times protected the harbour of ancient Olounta. It is considered one of the best protected fortresses of Venetian Crete that was never conquered. The high walls, that were built and completed in 1579, are still intact till this day. In 1630, the fortress held 35 cannons. For half century afterwards the conquest of Crete from Turks, Spinalogka remained in the hands of Venetians and in the outcome it became a shelter for a lot of Christians in order to survive from the Turks. In 1715 the island was taken over by the Turks which were a bilateral agreement between Turks and Venetians. From 1912 until 1958 Spinalogka functioned as sanatorium for the leper Cretans. Today entry is free for the visitors that are interest to learn about the history and the architecture of the area. Elounda is composed by seven settlements of which the coastal Schism is very well known, as a marvellous tourist resort with modern tourist facilities that have become known worldwide. However from way back the Europeans were acquainted for its whetstones. From Elounda there are organised excursions with ferries for the island of Spinalogka. The island is found in northern part of the peninsula and in 1954 was renamed Kalydonia. On the island was built the fortress from anciently, in order to protect the harbour Olountas from the pirates. The building of powerful castles during the16th century was in order from the Turkish threat against Crete.
The traditional village of Kritsa is approx 8km from Aghios Nikolaos. Kritsa is a separate society of people with there own production of culture and tradition. It has a unique charm and is composed of many traditional and modern houses and many shops. At the same time Kritsa is a heaven for many tourists that want to buy land in this particular village, without influencing the environment. For the last few years Kritsa has an important influx for purchasers of land and homes by foreigners that want to live in a traditional Cretan village. Kritsa is composed of a vivid folklore tradition of Crete and maintains an important degree still inalterable of her old architectural physiognomy.
Sissi, is a seaside village nearby Milatos and Neapoli and located between Heraklion and Aghios Nikolaos (approx. 40 km east of Iraklion and 25 km west of Aghios Nikolaos). This coastal village has started to attract some tourism due to the landscape of the area, Due to the well-balanced mixture of sea and mountains. It is a quiet heaven for peace and tranquillity near the major holiday resorts on Crete’s North coast.
The historical village of Milatos is located near the Northern coast of Crete, roughly 11 kilometres north of Neapoli and 26 kilometres from Aghios Nikolaos. It is a quiet village which reminds you of the history of many centuries ago. Milatos, the name came from, was a boy that was brought up in the forest by a wolf. It grew up, and it killed the tyrant of city and then fled to Minor Asia, where the fable, says he founded the colony of Militou of which in, 499 B.C. began the revolution of the Greek cities against the Persians. In 3rd B.C. century Milatos was destroyed by the Luttious. Near the village, there is a steep side ravine, were you will find the historical cave of Milatos. It has eight entries, a length of 40 m., and three different horizontal levels that covers an area of 2100 sq.m. The cave itself is not much of interest, however became however known from the drama that took place there. In 1823 A.C. a large number of women and children hid from the Turks in the cave in order to stay alive.They where encircled and isolated and after 15 days they were forced to surrender, to the regional Turk administrator Hussein, who slaughtered the elders and the rest of the remaining warriors and he sold the women and children as slaves in Egypt. Today in this traditional village of Milatos you will find hospitable residents and have a fantastic holiday.
During the Venetian domination it was a small village with the name Kares. Later it was destroyed and when it was rebuilt, it was named Neoxori meaning New Village, this name was kept during the Turkish occupation. Today Neapoli is a beautiful commercial city which is well planned and with modern buildings as well as installations of the domestic facilities. Impressive is the temple of "Big Virgin Mary", with the beautiful square and its garden that dominates in the valley of Mirampelou. The temple is, dedicated to the Domination of the Virgin Mary, at Agious Deka and in the Saint Trinity. South-West of Neapoli and a distance of 1.5 km you will find the monastery Kremasta of 16th century, dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
The Plateau of Lasithi is between the embracing mountains of Selenas of Afenti and divine Diktis. In the Plateau long before there existed a lot of windmills (around 10.000 in the fifties) that gave the landscape a unique feature of high value. The windmills with pump machines and iron towers are of simple technology and local manufacture. They made their appearance in the area of Lasithi plain during the passed century and offered considered help to the local farmers and contributed in the growth of the local economy. Their number today has decreased considerably because of modernisation. Nevertheless the total of 18 villages have not lost their traditional icon and still attract thousands of tourists annually. Here in Plateau of Lasithi the only thing that you will miss is stress, whilst at the same time you will gain peace of mind.
The beautiful village of Vrahasi is built in southern side of mountain Anavlohos and the view that it offers is marvellous. Around the traditional village are the impressive mountains of Selenas and Cross, while in front unfolds the almond valley of Skafis Mirampeloy. It is located 4km from the town of Neapoli and 15km from the town of Aghios Nikolaos.
Ierapetra is the southern city of Greece and Europe. It belongs to the Provincial of Lasithi, which is the biggest city in population and composes as a main economic and commercial centre. It is found in the southern side of Crete and constitutes as a commercial centre of export rural products to Europe. Ierapetra was built in the same place that they found the ancient city Ieraputna. The initial name (Kurva) is a tribute to the founder, Kurva, which came to Crete from Rhodes. In the past the city was known with other names such as Kamiros, Putna, and Ieraputna. The beaches of the region have a total length of 51 klm. They are the cleanest in Crete and many of them are rewarded each year by the international competition Light blue Flag. They extend from the graphic Murto up to the "Big Beach" at Ferma and are distinguished for their rich sandy beaches. Naturally we should not exclude the beaches in the northern side of the Municipality, of Paheia Ammos (Sand), and also other fascinating beaches of the island Chrisi (Golden). In our region you can find many splendid beaches, "hidden" in small coves and beaches in order to it enjoy solitude and relaxation. At the same time the possibility at a lot of organised beaches one can seek more intense experiences.
As it is declared by its name, it is a seaside village with a beautiful sandy beach .Most of the region is full of olives trees and greenhouses.
A graphic town that is distinguished for its peacefulness its healthy climate and its beautiful beaches which are 73 kilometres from the Ag. Nikolaos Sitia also is the homeland of writer of "Erotokritos, Vintsentzos Kornaros. In Sitia particulary at Itanos you will find the unique foresting in the European continent, known as “Foinikodasos” (Palm trees forest)
The village is built on two hillsides full of fruitful trees and olives. There are little paths that lead to the white painted houses with their beautiful yards. From the square of village, approx. 8 km, leads to the graphic protected gulf of the beach where there is the settlement of Kato Zakros. Here recent excavations brought to light the big Minoan palace, 4th in Crete, unique and untouched. It was built around in 1600 B.C. and it covers an area of 8000 sq.m. which had 180 rooms.
A graphic coastal village is Makrygjalos, in the beautiful gulf of Kala Nera (Good Waters). The village has developed in a tourist resort, due to its large white sandy beach and the light blue sea. The village has some fantastic Minoan ruins. Near the modern church of the village, the excavations brought to light a Minoan manor. In addition, in the same region during excavations they also found a manor of the roman era.
Mohlos is a small seasie village. From the graphic coffeehouse the view of the sheer and rocky coasts is unique in beauty. From Mohlos there are organised excursions for the little islands Aghios Nikolaos and Pseira, which happens to have a church of the same name Aghios Nikolaos.