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Civilization and Antiquities

For those of you with a passion for culture and past civilizations, Sitia and its area has a wealth of treasure for you to discover - archaeological sites, museums and much more, all bearing testament to our rich past.

The Minoan civilization, as is commonly accepted, is the first and most ancient great civilization in Europe and here, in Eastern Crete, in Zakros and Palekastro, in Mohlos and Psyra, the first centers and ports of this great civilization developed.

Zeus, the king of the Gods, who according to myth transformed into a white bull, seduced and abducted the beautiful daughter of the king of Phoenix, Europe, and carried her on his back to bring her to Crete,to a beautiful beach down in Palekastro, where they stayed to rest,before continuing their route to Diktaio Antro and Gortyna.

This beautiful myth has some historical implications on the relationship of Crete with the East, explaining why here, in Eastern Crete, which is close to Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, ancient Phoenix and Egypt, the first signs of European civilization were born. It is in this place, in the Minoan town of Palekastro, where the famous shrine of Diktaios Zeus was located and where his hymn was found written on a rock. This is the first hymn to peace and peaceful life. Young men prayed to Zeus to come to earth along with the gods of vegetation to bring happiness to humans, peace and order to the world, justice and protection for the young, fertility for the earth and its fruits and winds for the ships.

Here, at the cape Cavo-Sidero, the ancient Samonion, the Argonauts disembarked and built the shrine of Samonia Athena and the god Dionysos created the islands "Dionysiades", named after him. It seems that nowehere else in this world nature and myth were combined as well as in Crete. It is remarkable how these traditions of worship and rituals still survive to our days in the villages of Sitia. Its geographical position - the nearest station of the sea route to North Africa and the East - and historical reasons contributed to the development and creation of this amazing archeological and historical wealth. Sitia was "the gate of the East" for the Minoan world and here are the first and last sites of the Minoan civilization. The same is true for the literary tradition:

- Myson the Sitian, one of the seven wise men of antiquity, as reported by Stefanos the Byzantine.
- Vitsentzos Kornaros, "the Great of the Greek nation and the immortal poet", according to Kostis Palamas.
- Andreas Kornaros, the great literary scholar, the founder of the Stravaganti academy in Megalo Kastro (Heraklion) and the writer of the first history book of Crete
- The Pantogalloi brothers, great men of the church and literature.
- Pertzivalis and Kalyvas, distinguished scholars and teachers of the renaissance.
- The Salamon family, a member of which was our great National poet, Dionysios Solomos.

Melina Merkouri noted and said: "still today, Sitia is the home of pleasure, happiness, and creativity. A place where life finds its meaning. A place that proudly continues a great tradition of offering in literature, sciences and art".

A trip to the Sitia areais a trip to the roots of the European civilization.

Europe without Greece is like a child without berth of certification!!!!!!!!!!


Sitia Area, Archeological Sites

The province of Sitia is one of regions of Greece and of the whole world with a large number of antiquities within its borders, with archeological sites such as: The Minoan palace of Zakros, the Minoan town of Palekastro, the Minoan settlements/naval centres of Mohlos and Psyra, the Minoan cemetery of Aghia Fotia, the Minoan palace and settlement of Petra, the Minoan villas in Sitia, in Zou, in Pano Zakros, Achladia, Aghios Georgios, Makris Gialos, the residence Hamezi, the eteocretan Praissos, the Doric Itanos, the Hellenistic settlements of Trypiti and Xerocambo, the Roman Lefki (Koufonisi) the medieval settlement of Voila, the Kazarma fortresses of Sitia, the Venetian villa in Etia, Liopetro, Monte Forte, the monasteries of Toplou, Kapsa and Faneromeni, Byzantine churches, frescoes and icons, historical sites, folk architecture, traditional fountains, neo-classic houses, watermills, windmills, farms and many more monuments of local, national and global cultural heritage.

The extremely rich and bright past of the region is certified by the numerous archeological excavations and historical research conducted by Greek and foreign researchers over the last 100 years.

The Palace and the Minoan Settlement of Zakros

Opening hours: Summer: 08:30 - 18:00 - Tel.: 28430 26897

The Palace of Kato Zakros is one of four Minoan palaces to be found on Crete.  It is situated 45km east of Sitia, in a sheltered bay on the east coast, oriented politically and comercially towards the major civilizations of the Middle East.
The first excavation in Kato Zakros was performed by the British D. Hogarth, in 1901, who discovered the remains of a Minoan settlement , indicating a flourishing society. He unearthed about 300 clay stamps on coins, indicating some sort of bureaucratic system of control or a number of commercial affairs. Some of these stamps originate from Knossos, which indicates the close relationship of Knossos and Zakros, at least during the 15th century BC. In 1962, the Greek archaeologist N. Platon started a new excavation in the valley of Kato Zakros. He was convinced that here was something much more important than a naval settlement - the excavation results were indeed impressive!  They revealed a Minoan palace and a settlement surrounding it, dispersed over the slopes of the two hills of the valley. Important findings came to light during the research of the Minoan tombs, most of which were "sheltered" in natural caves, in the gorge of Zakros -  renamed "the gorge of the dead" ("faraghi ton nekron") - but also in other positions, such as in "Mavro Avlaki" southeast of the gulf and "Spiliara", on the north slope of the valley.
The palace of Zakros - as it is preserved today- was constructed during the 16th century BC. It is possible that it replaced an older public building, as indicated by the remains found under the east wing of the palace. Only at this spot it was possible to further excavate, since agricultural activity during the 20th century - and before the excavations- had totally destroyed this part of the palace.
From the palace of Zakros, farm produce, timber and especially handicraft products were sent to the Middle East and Egypt, with ivory, precious metals and semi-precious sones being imported. Life in this bustling palace came to an end in about 1450 BC, when the palace was destroyed, possibly by an earthquake or the eruption or the Thira volcano.
The palace is made up of a central courtyard, surrounded by wings of buildings with a maze of corridors and a vast number of rooms. Many of the buildings were multi-storied, with interior staircases and light wells. Since the palace was built on very wet land, water was always a major consideration and the palace features a number of drains, a cistern and a fountain.

The Minoan Villa of Pano Zakros

The Minoan villa of Pano Zakros was studied by N. Platonas, with the aid of his then associates, Giannis and Efi Sakellaraki, in the years of 1965 and 1966. The chambers of the ground floor were mainly used for production and storage spaces for agricultural products. One of the chambers housed one of the most impressive Minoan wine presses, with two press basins and vessels to collect the product. Next to the wine press, a spacious storage room was found, along with six large tubs. One of the tubs beared a Linear A inscription, that started with the ideogram of the wine.

Archaeological Park of Petra

Petra is a traditional settlement, 1 km east of Sitia. A small tower from the Venetian period can be found there. It bears the name "house of Kornaros" and belonged to the homonym family. On the hill over the tower, a small palace and a settlement have been brought to light by recent excavations. The rooms of the palace were luxuriously adorned and its walls painted with bright colours. Many pots, vases and epigrams of Linear A and B were found as well. Under the road of the contemporary settlement cyclopean fortifications were found, while in the fringes port installations were also found. In the adjacent hill "head of Petras" (east of the palace towards the sea) a Neolithic settlement is being excavated. Recently, the settlement of Petras has been transformed into an important archaeological site well-worth visiting during the summer months.

Pressos

Praissos was once one of the most important regions of Eastern Crete. It was built on three hills and was surrounded by a strong fortification wall, parts of which still remain, in particular on the northeast of the big hill, where the chair of the city's authorities was located. The third hill with the altar-shrine and the holy cave at Skales was located outside the fortification. After the conquest of Crete from the Dorians in the 12th century B.C. the Eteocretans, who were the first inhabitants of Crete and the "native Cretans", withdrew towards the east of the island, where they kept their genuine Minoan character, their language, religion and the worship of Diktaios Zeus.

Praissos was located at the centre of the Sitia peninsula and had harbours in the Northern sea, the Cretan sea, in Iteia (Sitia), in the Libyan sea, in Styles, as it appears in the resolution of Praisians, during the Macedonian years, concerning fishery and the trade of the red shells and the navy. The Ierapytnians, who were of Dorian origin, after many of years of war finally defeated the Eteocretans of Praissos and destroyed their city. The region was probably inhabited since the Neolithic period. In the cave located in Skales, by the river banks of Kalamauki and Panteli, Neolithic and caramaic ceramics were found.

In 1884, Federico Halbherr discovered in Praissos the first Eteocretan inscription and found a large number of clay figurines. The excavations of the Brittish Archeological School revealed that in Praissos there was a city of the historical Hellenistic times. The more ancient Eteocretan city of Praissos, recorded by the ancient Greek historian Stravon, was far from the remains preserved today and after its destruction, the last descendants of the Eteocretans, along with the Dorians, built the new city in the 12th century BC. It is the remains of this new city that are still preserved today. The region of the "state" of Praissos occupied the whole peninsula of Sitia -apart from Itanos- which was then called the Eteocretan peninsula, the peninsula of Praision. The regime of the Hellenic-Geometric Praissos was democratic.

As an autonomous city, Praissos had its own coins. In most of these coins we find representations of Hercules, Zeus, Apollo, Demeter and the word "PRAISION". At the hill of Praissos a tomb was excavated in 1935, where a Praisian athlete was buried along with his awards, the most characteristic of which were two painted Athenean amphoras dating back to 560 - 500 BC. It seems that the athlete participated and won the pan-Athenean games. In Praissos there are traces of all past centuries. The traces of the Neolithic, the Mycenaean, the Geometric, the Hellenistic, and the Venetian centuries. Even the Turks left two fountains in Vavelous

The Elliptical House of Hamezi

In the position of "Souvloto Mouri", in 1903, the excavations under the direction of St. Xanthoudidis brought into light a building of the Minoan period. Its unique elliptic form -uncommon for the period- and its function, puzzled the archaelogists for many years. In I971, a new research conducted by the Professor Mr. Dabaras revealed new evidence that this building was in fact a residence, of unique style in the Minoan period, dating back to 2200-2000 B.C. while the remains of more ancient residences have been found. During the excavations cupreous objects were found in the exterior of the residence, while in the rooms vessels and some figurines have been found, which are saved in the Museums of Heraklion and Aghios Nikolaos.

The Villa of Achladia

In the position "Riza", in 1952, I. Platon attempted to perform a small excavation on a point where an ancient wall was visible. During the excavation the external walls of a habitation were revealed, which were made by large carved stones. In 1959 Platon continued the excavation works and uncovered the whole building, which proved to be an important agricultural villa of the Minoan period. It dates back to 1600-1550 BC, and was used for at least half a century until it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake. The building covers 270 square meters and includes 12 chambers. The main entrance, with a monolithic sill, was in the east, while another entrance was in the west. The reception hall in the left of the tiled pre-chamber had a double entrance and communicated with a smaller chamber with a built bench and had three columns supporting the roof. Another possible reception hall was on the right of the pre-chamber. The villa also had a kitchen, storage rooms and other secondary spaces. In the exterior, the walls shaped a yard that was probably used for animal housing.

The tomb of Achladia

Numerous excavation works have been performed in two locations in Achaldia, where visitors can see two wonderful sites of the Minoan civilization, the unique domed tomb of Eastern Crete and the remains of a Minoan villa. In the position "Platuskinos", and underground domed tomb with a hall passage has been excavated, the only sample of a domed tomb of the copper age in Eastern Crete and extremely rare in the whole island. It dates back to 1400-1220BC and it was used for more than a century. A built passage 9 meters long leads to the entrance of the tomb. The chamber is circular with a diameter of 4,08 meters and height 4,16 meters. The dome is build with large stones and is cone-shaped. Right across the main entrance of the tomb, there is a second smaller entrance, which was possibly a symbolic opening for the passage of the dead to the "other" world, but it could also be the entrance of a side chamber which was never fully constructed. The lintels and the sills of the two entrances are monolithic. The cavities around the main entrance probably functioned as the support of the wooden gate, which was closing the entrance to the tomb. Due to its similarity to the Mycenaean domed tombs of Northern Greece, it is often argued by some researchers that the technical construction of the domed tombs of the post- Minoan period was "imported" from Mycenaean technicians of mainland Greece.

The Minoan town of Palekastro

Opening hours: 8:30 - 3:00 Tel: 6942 407209 Mrs. Veniamaki Anthoula

At the beach of Palekastro, in the position of Russolakos, a great and big town of the Minoan period was excavated. It flourished during the post-Minoan period but some remains date back to the pre-Minoan period and the mid-Minoan period, mainly tombs with numerous bones very well preserved. The anthropologists that studied the bones found important information on the body structure of the Minoans, who reportedly had an average body length of 1.60 for men and 1.50 for women. A central road connects with 4 other roads that divide the town in 9 districts. The houses that face the central road had imposing fronts, while a complete drainage system was functioning in all the districts.

In the district B, among others, there was a chamber-manor with 4 lines of columns and a kitchen, a "Lustral Basin", a well, a home shrine, a bath, and an oil storage room, while in other spaces there was an oil press. Many vessels, vases, lamps, ect were also found. Chamber-manor were also found in other districts, while in one district a wine press was found. In another district, the famous in antiquity shrine of Diktaios Zeus was found. At this shrine, Zeus was worshipped until the Roman period. The pieces of a plate where the hymn of Zeus Diktaios were also found; it is the first hymn to a deity in the ancient world and it is a hymn to peace and life. In the same space the pieces of an ivory figurine, "the masterpiece" of the Minoan civilization as it has been characterized, were discovered and are exhibited at the archeological museum of Sitia. Human activity in the Minoan town of Palekastro suddenly seized, as it happened in Zakros and in other towns of Crete in about 1500 BC, after the horrific eruption of the volcano

ITANOS

Itanos had been one of the most important coastal cities of eastern Crete from the Minoan years until the first Christian era. Nowadays it is known under the name of Erimopolis. Its citizens were dominating throughout the coast of Sitia, from the Samonion cape (today cape Sidero (iron)) to the Erythreon cape (what is today called Goudoura) and the island of Lefki (Koufonisi). Itanos is also mentioned by Herodotus. When Pythia saw the oracle and told the Thyraeans to make a settlement in Libya, the latter sent emissaries to Crete in order to find guides who would lead them to Libya.

The emissaries on their arrival to Itanos met with a laver fisherman who recounted to them how he had once drifted away pushed by the wind to the land of Libya. In turn they convinced him to guide them there where they ended up funding the colony of Cyrene in 630 B.C. Itanos is also mentioned by Stephanos the Byzantine who reckons that the city's name finds its origins in the Itanos Phoenix. According to him, Itanos was a Phoenician colony controlling the laver and glass trade. It was in this city that the Phoenicians merchants, who traded with Crete, were based. Numerous laboratories for fish and laver processing, glass making and textiles were also found here. Itanos had always been a Syrio-Phoenician station where Phoenician gods such as Phoenix, Amfion and Tagha were worshiped. The city has been a very important port as it was used as a transportation base between the East and Crete.

Thanks the trade of laver, glass and fish, as well as the great income generated by the Diktaion Zeus temple, Itanos became a rich and prosperous city as one can infer by the great number of temples and luxurious marble structures that have been found here. Still, it was its affluence that led to their subjugation by the Dragmians who before rising up used to be controlled by the people of Itanos. Furthermore, when the Ierapytnians destroyed Praesos, Itanos was contained even further. After the Roman occupation of the whole island, Itanos managed to flourish thanks to seafaring and trade. The city minted its own currency that had the tridents, fish and even Triton (ancient eastern Cretan deity) as was to be expected by a seafaring city. Many of these coins are described by Sboronos. During the proto-Christian period, several glorious and gallant temples were erected as indicated by their ruins. Itanos was either destroyed in the 9th century A.D. by the Saracens or by the great earthquake in 795 A.D. The city must have been populated once more but was finally looted and utterly destroyed by pirates sometime during the 15th century. Its residents retreated to safer mountainous settlements.

The regime of Itanos was initially monarchy but later became democratic with its own senate and open parliament ("ekklesia tou demou"). Sometime during the 3rd century B.C. there was an attempt to overthrow the aristocratic democracy. The citizens of Itanos asked for help by Ptolemy the Philadelphian of Egypt who sent the general Patroclus the Patron to their aid. In Itanos several sepulchral epigrams from the proto-Christian period have been found. On the transom of the Saint-John's temple one can find an epigram from the 3rd century B.C. describing how Itanios competed and equaled in archery the god of light and music, Apollo. In 1919 an old tomb was found, covered by two plaques that can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. These plaques were made of locally extracted blue rock. The first epigraph comes from the 2nd century A.D. and consists of 98 verses badly damaged, that describe the conflict between the Itanians and the Ierapytnians over the Diktaeon sanctuary. The other epigraph contains a resolution from the 3rd century B.C. voted by the Itanians thanking the Macedonian general Patroclus the Patron. Itanos is also mentioned with the same name (u-ta-no) in the linear B inscriptions found in Knossos. In the area of Cape Sidero, the people sailing to the East worshipped the gods of the winds, that were later substituted by Poseidon.

Koufonisi

The ancient name of the island was Lefki and it played an important role in the Hellenistic and Roman history of Eastern Crete. Its citizens were mainly fishermen and laver makers. The art of laver processing was known in the area since the prehistoric times as can be seen by the processed laver shells found in Minoan settlements. The laver trade was very lucrative. In 1975 in the same area, N. P. Papadakis excavated a Hellenistic theater with a capacity of 1000 spectators. The orchestra was semicircular and its corridors were vaulted. The second most important edifice found was the public bath house dating from the 1st century A.D. In the ancient Lefki settlement that is located close to the theatre, several houses operating as laver processing laboratories were also found.

A mansion with numerous rooms, mosaics and colourful walls was also found. All findings, such as figurines, stone and metal vases are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. In the top of a hill, around 2 km from the settlement, the ruins of an ancient temple were also found, along with two remaining pieces from a colossal sitting statue. The water-supply system consisted of three built aqueducts bringing water from a spring on the top of the hill to the centre of the settlement. It seems that the whole area was violently destroyed during the 4th cent. A.D., while the theatre was looted and burnt. Since then the island has not been permanently populated again. Only passing sailors left their traces in the small caves of the western beach, where engraved on the rocks one can find Christian Saints' figures dating back to the 17th century. Today, the whole island is a vast archaeological area.

Mohlos

The American archeologist R.B. Seager discovered Mohlos in 1907, after following the instructions of a local fisherman. The following year, the excavations began on the little island, which revealed 20 built tombs and about 12 habitations. In 1955, J. Leatham and S. Hood cinducted underwater searches and found Roman fish tanks at the coast across the island, supporting the hypothesis that the island of Mohos was a peninsula during the copper age. According to the findings of the excavations, the island of Mohlos developed to one of the most important centers of the Minoan civilization. The valley ashore provided a rich agricultural production and the narrow strait that united the island with the shore in antiquity was forming two natural ports, keeping the ships safe in any weather condition.

As an important commercial center, it imported obsidian from the island of Milos and other raw material from the East, which were further supplying other regions of Crete. The discovery of a circular stamp that comes from north Syria and dates back to the 18th century, proves the significance of this port. In the 'district of the craftsmen" golden jewelry was constructed, along with stamp-stones, and the famous stone vessels of Mohlos, many of which were found in tombs of the period. After the destruction from the volcano eruption, the town of Mohlos was reconstructed and expanded. The new town had central roads and other smaller roads that divided the town in districts. The houses were built in different levels, adjusted to the inclination of the ground, and had two or three floors. During the last phase of the extended habitation on the island of Mohlos, a 1st century fortification is constructed at its north and east part. The fortification was probably an effort of Ierapytna to establish its presence on the north coast of Crete in this period.

Hellenistic city of Xerokampo

Recent surface excavations have proven that the area has been populated since the prehistoric times and is of great archeological interest. In the site of Katsounakia a large Minoan settlement was found but has not been excavated yet. In the hill of Trachelas a sanctuary was also found but had already been desecrated. Furthermore, in the area of Psile Ammos one can see the ancient stone quarry that was used to build the ancient city. There are also numerous salterns used for sea salt production. They consist of a series of canals and founts that are dug in the rocks of the seashore. Today they are mostly covered by the sand of the beach. Across from the Kabaloi area one can find a series of islets with installations dating from the post-Minoan era (1500-1300 B.C.). Also in the Farmakokefalo area important excavations started in 1984 by the archeologist N. P. Papadakis. An important Hellenistic city was found which is speculated to be the ancient city Ampelos, spanning throughout the contiguous hill and surrounded by high city walls.

Only part of the city-walls is still preserved. Many houses, roads and other findings have come to light uncovering an important part of its history. The city was built sometime during the 5th century B.C. and flourished during the 3rd-2nd century B.C. There was trade with other Cretan cities and the Dodecanese; especially with Rhodes and Kalymnos. Characteristic findings include lead pellets used by the slingers of the army. The excavation findings are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. Finally, in the centre of the city the small church of Aghios-Nikolaos dating from 1895 can be found.

The Minoan Villa of Makry Gialos

In the position "Plakakia", west from the village of Makry Gialos, archeological excavations revealed a villa that dates back to the post- Minoan period. The villa that was revealed is very important for the study of Minoan architecture because it constitutes micrography of a Minoan palace. In the middle of the building there is the big central courtyard, surrounded by the remainder spaces of the villa with slab paved floors and walls covered with mortar, while there is also a western courtyard. In the central courtyard there is a built altar and next to it a stamp stone was found with arepresentation of a holy boat, a holy tree and a priestess. The roof was set with canes and clay, which is exceptionally interesting as it connects the Minoan with the later Cretan architecture, since this method was used until recently for the construction of the roofs of rural stone-built houses. The villa was destroyed by a big fire, as it is proved by the imprints of burned wooden joists and the blackened slab paved floors. The architecture style of the villa, the small number of spaces for domestic use, and the importance of certain findings (figurines, stone stamps and a bowl of Holy Communion), all of which are accommodated in the Archaeological Museum of Aghios Nikolaos, indicate that the villa had a religious character and it is possible that it constituted an important religious centre of the wider region. In the position "Katovigli", in 1976, systematic excavations began under the direction of N. P. Papadakis that were completed in 1980. The ruins of Roman villa were then revealed, that had a bath complex and an outdoor water reservoir.

The design of its spaces is quite complicated. Corridors and courtyards function as central axes surrounded by rooms and auxiliary spaces. The floors and the walls of the central rooms are covered with marble plates. The entrance of the villa had a mosaic floor with geometric and plant decor. A large chamber with luxurious floor was probably used as a reception hall. In the south-eastern department of the villa the bath complex was located, also known as "valaneio", with a petal-shaped swimming-pool whose floor and stairs were set with marble. A large mosaic with geometric representations was found in the outdoor space next to the swimming-pool. In the villa there was a system of build pipes, which channelled the water from the reservoirs in the "valaneio" and in the remainder spaces. Between the various spaces of the "valaneio", a room was located which probably had some sort of burrial use, where bones but also entire skeleton were found. The villa was inhabited from the 1st century B.C. until the 3rd century A.D. The cause of its destruction is unknown. The few findings of the excavations are accommodated in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.


Medieval Buildings and Museums

The Archeological Museum of Sitia

One of the most important Cretan Museums is located in the Sitia town. In the town's archaeological museum are placed important finds of Minoan Civilization and other archaic Cretan civilizations. Unique exhibits of the excavations in Zakros, Mochlos, Psira, Palekastro, Itanos, Agia Fotia and other significant Minoan hubs in central Crete present a new experience for the visitor. Many of the exhibits refer to the olive, the vine cutlery, fishing bee- keeping as to other sectors of rural activity.

The long archaeological and historical research at the Sitia area has brought to light rare and valuable finds and information of all civilizations from


the Neolithic Age and the Minoan period to the New Age. The civilizations that have flourished the grounds of Sitia, one of the richest areas in archaeological sites internationally have bequeathed us magnificent samples of material and intellectual wealth that are exhibited in the district Museums and Collections.

There are important folklore museums in Chamezi and Palekastro and minor folklore collections in Chandra and Pefkoi. In spaces fit out for exhibitions you find items that represent the Cretan folk culture and the rural and pastoral life. Three kilometers in the east of Sitia next to the Road to TOPLOU - Vai is built by the Sitia touring Club a large and well equipped Centre of Traditional Culture with Folklore Collections, Art Workshops, show rooms - selling points- rooms for trying local products, cinemas, multiple purpose halls, exhibition halls etc.

The Folklore Museum of Sitia

The Folklore Museum of Sitia was founded in 1975 by the educational and cultural association "Vintsenzos Kornaros". It contains many important folklore exhibits; mainly hand woven materials, embroideries, local costumes, furniture:

Embroideries

It includes linen table clothes, cotton handmade pillows, bedcovers and clothes. Hand-woven drapes with images of ancient gods and semi gods like Eros, Aphrodite and Pan. Cotton linen and silk towels, woven and adorned with various patterns.

Woven

A large variety of woven products like carpets, rugs, carrying bags, cloaks.

Furniture

Various handmade furniture including the iron bed, pictured on the top of this page, wooden cases for storing clothes and produce, a children's rocking bed. Most wooden furniture on display is also hand carved with various motifs, and pictures from the Cretan history.

Handiworks

A variety of hand made and polished mirrors, various small boxes for every day use like a newspaper rack, a toiletries box etc., Also some clocks in hand carved cases, pictures frames constructed from wood and decorated with silk.

Costumes

Some costumes are on display, depicting the typical dressing of the locals in older times. This includes the clothes worn by a typical farmer, a typical dress worn by a lady at the beginning of the century, etc.

Kitchenware

Various cooking utensils and equipment, like irons, rock and mills for grinding coffee, and flour, lamp stands, iron pots and pans.

Pots

Ceramic pans, pots and plates, water carafes, flower vases, glasses.

Icons

Some old Orthodox Christian icons are also on display.

Loom room

A complete loom with all its parts, on working condition, is on display. Here the visitor can examine the whole process of weaving. The loom is currently used by the museum staff, to produce artifacts on sale in the museum shop.

Woodcarving Museum in Tourtoulous

At the old forge which is currently being used as an exhibition hall after its restoration, displayed the artwork of the popular artist Manolis Th. Perakis- Chalkias (1910-2006). Chalkias, after having subdued iron material as a blacksmith an impressive piece of his work is the handmade quintal, "kandari" (a traditional scale) - he also tried to express himself artisticly working on raw wood material for 35 whole years (from 1971 till his death).

Inspired by nature, Manolis Th. Perakis- Chalkias created various realistic, as well as imaginary shapes. The main raw materials he used were the natural wood of medlar tree (despolia), mandarin tree, orange tree, olive tree, pear tree etc. Some of the artist's favourite topics are: portraits (Christ's, Virgin Mary's), busts of political persons (Eleftherios Venizelos), ornamented useful things, musical instruments ( the lyre and the violin), incomprehensible animal complexes, monstrous birds and supernatural reptiles.

All he created, using his imagination, became true as he engraved wood. Naturalness, simplicity and uniqueness dominate upon his craftwork. Chalkia's handmade artistry is based on traditional tools such as hack hammers, chisels, saws and sharpeners. When artist's hands "talk" we can do nothing more than remain silent enjoying his work!

Zakros Museum of water and Hydraulic

Zakros, one of the biggest villages in the Eastern Crete, known for the Minoan Palace in Kato Zakros but also for the abundance of water, the springs and the ravines with plan trees.

The existence of water has always had the most vital part in the inhabitants' economical and social activities. The structure, the neighborhoods, the inhabitants' activities have a parallel course with the "water's path". A path that has been carved by the force of the movement of water for thousands of years, starting from the biggest spring in Zakros called "Mesa Mylos" reaching the gorge and continuing its course towards the sea.

The settlement was built along the course of water giving it this long shaping which it still has in our days. In the beginning the inhabitants grew only small vegetable gardens for their every day needs but later large expanses with olive trees were cultivated which are today fully irrigated and they produce Zakro's distinguished olive oil.

People couldn't leave unexploited the possibility given by water to move the engines they have invented to produce goods and improve their living standards. Therefore having taken advantage of the hydraulic power and the area's relief people built watermills along this water path in order to grind grain, small factories to produce olive oil and rasotrivia* to process woolen textile.

In the early 1900s Zakros constituted the center of an idiosyncratic "industrial area" since there were 11 watermills functioning. The watermill is considered to be the "factory" of the pre-industrial era.

A smart and simply functioned construction exploits the water power to move millstones while the whole process was under the control of only one person, the miller.

The grain usually grinded was barley and weat, which was cultivated around Zakros and the nearby areas. Many were those who came a long distance to grind the grain at the watermills of Zakros. The construction of a watermill was mainly of a simple right-angle shaping including the workroom, and in larger watermills, a room for the reception of customers and the miller's residence with a fireplace for cooking and heating. Next to the watermill there used to be a stable for animals and sometimes a wood-oven.

The well is probably the most impressive element as far as construction is concerned. Located above the watermills, 6 to 8 meters in height, it forwards the water to a propeller which moves the millstones to grind the grain which fell off the basket slowly and steadily always under the miller's supervision.

The Museum of Water in Zakros is housed in the restored watermills which were given away by the owner families in 1997. It is a theme museum whose aim is to gather every object or other material relative to the use of water in the past and also to make the importance of water known in our days as well, exploiting it correctly through rational use and respect.

The watermills which have been restored and formed to exhibitions are:

- "Brilakenas'" watermill. It was a property of Brilakis and N. Rodanakis family, built before 1900. there is a rasotrivio* nearby owned by N. Rodanakis.
- "Rodanovagelis'" watermill, built before 1900 by Vagelis Rodanakis' father. In the same space an olive oil factory functioned with the power of water.
- "Xopapa's" watermill, one of the oldest watermills. There is a wood-oven right outside.

* Small factory which processed woolen textile made

The palace at Zakros

The palace at Zakros is the fourth in terms of size, among the Minoan palaces. It was located at an advantageous strategic position, at a protected bay, and was the centre of commercial exchange with the countries of the East, as is indicated by the excavation finds (elephants' tusks, faience, copper etc.) It has two main building phases: the old palace was built in c. 1900 B.C., and the new one in c. 1600 B.C., but was destroyed in 1450 B.C. along with the other centers of Minoan Crete. The palace was the administrative, religious and commercial centre, and was surrounded by the town. After its destruction, it was not rebuilt and the site was used only for cultivation. Burials have been uncovered inside caves on the slopes of the "Ravine of the Dead", as the ravine that stretches from Pano Zakros to Kato Zakros is called.

The English admiral Th. Spratt in his book "Travels in Crete", published in the middle of the 19th century, mentions to have seen ancient ruins in the area. At the end of the 19th century, the Italian archaeologists F. Halbherr and L. Mariani, and the English A. Evans conducted trial excavations in the area. The first systematic excavation was carried out in 1901 by D.G. Hogarth of the British School of Archaeology, who excavated two deposits and houses that suffered severe destruction during the Second World War. Hogarth came very close to the palace but did not uncover it. Sixty years later, a few gold ornaments given by a peasant as a "gift" to doctor Giamalakis, and remodelling works in the area that brought to light ashlars blocks and a sword, in 1961, led N. Platon to start systematic excavation, with the financial support of the Americans L. and H. Pomerance, bringing to light the palace and the settlement around it.

The finds from the excavation are exhibited in the Museum of Herakleion, while a few are kept in the Museums of Sitia and Aghios Nikolaos.

Medieval Buildings

Each historical era has left its sign in the soil of Sitia. During the declining years of the Minoan civilisation, the city of Presos continued to uphold Minoan values, successfully holding off Dorian invaders. It was finally destroyed by the powerful city of Ierapetra. The development of the Greek and Hellenistic period came to a halt with the arrival of the Romans who in turn left their mark - eg. the Roman fish tanks in Sitia and the theatre on the island of Koufonisi. The subsequent Byzantine period led to the construction of new fortresses, major ports and churches both large and small. Despite being easy prey for marauding pirates and robbers the Sitian people continued an uninterrupted cultural development of some significance.

The Venetians - new masters of the region - buried all previous history under the foundations of their new buildings, in this way stamping their authority on the area and leaving their own mark on the passage of time.

The Kazarma fortress, the feudal towers scattered around the area, imposing buildings and new settlements are all built on the ruins of the old. Wherever the visitor wanders, he can see traces of the long Venetian occupation in the "vigilae" and guard towers, in the spacious villas of the ruling families and in the fortifications.

The Ottoman Turks were the next people to leave their mark in the region. However, the Ottomans left few traces of cultural development. Their mark can be seen only in written archives and felt in the living traditions and stories which are etched into the collective memory of the peoples of Sitia and of the surrounding villages, many of which have names which can be traced back to the Ottoman occupation.

Kazarma

The castle fortress known today as "Kazarma" (Casa di arma), is the most imposing historical monument in Sitia.

The Kazarma used to be a military and administrative centre which consisted of a Medieval dwelling surrounded by walls. The fortification of the town and of the Kazarma can be dated to the late Byzantine period.

However, pirate raids, the continual uprisings against the Venetian occupation by the local people and the great earthquake all led to the partial destruction of the fortifications until the Venetians themselves were forced to completely destroy them with the intention of rebuilding them. This never happened and in 1651 the town was razed and then occupied by the Turks.

During the Turkish occupation it would appear that the walls were never rebuilt but the Kazarma was restored and evidence of the Turkish extensions can be seen today, for example in the cupolas ("koubedes") on the battlements that form the watch towers. The Kazarma has since been carefully restored and is open to the public offering a panoramic view across the bay of Sitia.

Concerts, plays, lectures and art exhibitions all take place in the Kazarma during the summer months as part of the festival known as "Kornaria".

Tripitos

According to the evidence of recent excavations it would appear that the site of Hellenistic Sitia is situated at Tripitos, a small headland 3 kms east of Sitia. On the side of a hill tilted towards the sea, an oblong hole or pit with a floor was discovered measuring 30m x 5.50 x 5. Archaeologists believe that it was used to hoist, protect and repair ships (like a present day ship-builders yard). It is the only confirmed such find in Crete and dates from the Hellenistic period.

A small Hellenistic town with the remains of some dwellings was also recently unearthed at the same site. Archaeologists also found a large fortified wall to the South and many vases, coins, pieces of jewellery and lead weights.

Voila settlement

The deserted settlement of Voila occupies the north and west sides of the steep hill located on the eastern side of the Armenochantrades plateau. On the southeast side the settlement is protected by the steep cliff. In the north and western sides of the hill, the houses are built like fortifications, while a short wall is protecting the remaining perimeter towards the valley. The settlement spans below the contemporary road which destroyed many of the archaeological buildings when it was built. Domed warehouses or stables are still preserved in the low external zone while all the houses are built on the slope.

During the Venetian domination over the island, the settlement belonged to the feud of the Salomon family. During their reign they expanded the Aghios-Georgios church which also includes the family tomb of the Salomons. During the Ottoman Empire most of its citizens were ottomans and was also the base of a janizary battalion. The most know commander of the janizary was Jen Ali after whom the tower of the settlement was named. Since the end of the 19th century, the settlement declined and today lies in ruins. The majority of the remaining buildings belongs to the Ottoman Empire era. However, the architecture of the Venetian built edifices is a witnesse to the affluence of the area during their reign.

Etia Settlement

Etia probably took its name from the tree Itea (willow) The village seems to have been populated since the Byzantine period as one can see from the remaining churches of Aghios-Ioannis and Aghia-Ekaterini. During the Venetian reign it was on of the largest villages of the area with 563 citizens. The area was a feud of the Venetian aristocrat Dei Mezzo from the great Dei Mezzo family, which is one of the most populous families of Sitia. Dei Mezzo built the villa that bears its name and is one of the most important Venetian monuments of the Cretan country side.

The building had a rectangular shape with an entry hall covered by arches; as was the main dining hall and the corridor. All the auxiliary structures around the mansion were probably built during the Ottoman reign. Many engravings and the escutcheon of the Dei Mezzo family can also be found.

The villa was built at end of the 15th century, the same time the Toplou monastery was built and it was preserved intact until 1828. The building was surrounded by a big yard and was protected by walls. The main gate was palatial and bore the coat of arms of the Dei Mezzo family. On the eastern side of the yard close to the door, a fountain was found; the water was passed to the basin along the road.

Fortress of Liopetro

The fortress of Liopetra (from Leon di Pietra) which was built at the beginning of the 17th century AD, also belongs to the Hamezi area. In 579 the Venetian Proveditor Giacomo Foscarini had proposed to the Senate that such a fort should be built to shelter the inhabitants of Sitia in the event of war against the Turks.

The matter was brought up again by both Petros Zanos and Scotti in 1590 and 1595 respectively; so at the beginning of the 17th century the Senate gave orders for the building of this large fortress which could shelter as many as 6000 people.

There are indications that the fort was erected over the foundations of an ancient castle, the cistern of which remains still.


Sitia Area, Monasteries

The people of Sitia have always been deeply religious and this shows in the 12 monasteries that were built in the region of Sitia. Today only three are working monasteries.

Toplou Monastery


Of these three the most famous is the monastery of "Kira Akrotiriani" or "Toplou" (meaning "with armament" in Greek) because it acquired the right during the Turkish Occupation to keep a cannon. Moni Toplou is a Monastery with a long history which played a significant role in the struggles of the Cretan people for freedom.

In 1654, during the Turkish Occupation, the first bishop of Crete, Neofitos Patellaros, handed over some Cretan monasteries to the Patriach. In 1704 the Monastery of Toplou thus managed to avoid the heavy taxes and land seizures enforced on the Cretan people by the janissaries of the Turkish Occupation..

In 1798, the Patriach of Constantinople, Gregory V, declared the monastery and its surrounding lands to remain "uncultivated and undisturbed" and forbade its sale without the express permission of the Patriach. The monastery is dedicated to Our Lady and to St John.

The monastery is now run by abbot Filotheos Spanoudakis who has presided over the restoration of the monastery and founded a museum of icons and copper engravings. The displays include icons of great artistic worth, bibles, gold-plated silver crosses, patriachal documents, lead seals, vestments etc.

The dining area has recently been adorned by the icon painter Manolis Betinakis using fresco.

Kapsa Monastery

The Monastery of Kapsa can be found perched on the edge of the mouth of the imposing Pervolaki gorge, overlooking the Libyan Sea. The monastery belongs to Toplou and is 9 kilometres from the village of Makriyialos.

Panagia Faneromeni Monastery

The Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is situated to the west of Sitia in the area Platani. Nowadays the monastery is virtually abandoned and services are rarely conducted at the small Byzantine church, which probably dates from the 15th century.

Traditional Music and Cultural Events

There the variety of music and the literal folk tradition is revealed. In every popular festival you will experience unknown emotions by taking part or watching the ancient local dances, the different kinds of live music, the Sitian "kontilies" (the mastery of the lyre) and "mantinades" the old or improvised folk Cretan couplets, traditions in which Sitians the born revellers are unrivalled. Usually simple or casual meetings of locals or foreigners turn out to become a party.

Kornaria

Cultural festival from the beginning of July until mid August. Events include concerts of music, dance and theatre, exhibitions of fine art and photography, talks and sports events (eg. "Kornarios " road race, beach volley competition). Events take place outdoors in the Venetian fortress "Kazarma" and indoors at the "Polikendro". Events are also organized in the villages, such as "Kazanemata" (raki festivals) and Klidonas. The Council of Sitia organizes these events in order to encourage the cultural development of Sitia and to provide foreign visitors with an opportunity to get to know the customs and traditions of Sitia.

Festival of Agia Ekaterini

Religious festival in honour of the patron saint of Sitia (St. Catherine) on 25 Nov. A road race around Sitia is traditionally organized after the event.

Corn Festival

A new event which takes place in June in the central square of Piskokefalo. It includes concerts of music.

"Despolo" Festival

Takes place in the central square of Tourloti in June. It includes concerts of music.

Maritime Week

Organized every two years in the last week of June. It includes boat racing and concerts of music and dance.

Village church festivals

The village festivals, which include traditional music and dance, take place every year on the following dates :

- St. Paraskevi 26/7 στη Ζiro and Agia Triada
- St. George 23/4 , in the ruins of the hamlet of Skalia, Sitanos
- St. Marina 17/7, Exo Mouliana and Mirsini.
- Prophet Ilias 20/7 Mesa Mouliana
- St. Panteleimona 27/7 Roussa Ekklisia, Hamezi, Schinokapsala.
- Metamorphoseos, 6/8, Exo Mouliana, Agio Stefano and Zakros.
- Panagia 15/8, Palekastro, Lastro, Piskokefalo, Tourloti, Sitanos.
- St. John 29/8 Ziros.
- Panagia 8/9 Lithines
- Holy Cross 14/9 Sfaka
- St. Sophia 17/9 Armenous
- St. Anna 9/12 Piskokefalo.
- Holy Trinity Palekastro and Agia Triada
- Holy Spirit Armenous

Sitia/Makrigialos/Itanos/Leyki Carnival

Organized every year on the last Sunday of Carnival. Schools, clubs and societies all take part.

Traditional Music

Sitia is proud for its numerous traditional musicians that continue the region's long music tradition. The rich Cretan music tradition has its roots in Greek antiquity and is greatly influenced by Byzantine music, but simultaneously it has been enriched by the music traditions of the wider Eastern Mediterranean. The Cretan music tradition begins with the birth of the greatest of the Gods, Zeus.

The Cretan music tradition is considered as one of the most vivid music traditions in Greece because, not only it continues to develop and to incorporate new creative musical elements, but also because it accomplished to express and comment on contemporary realities. Improvisation is one of the basic characteristics of Cretan music. Specifically, during the various feasts and festivals, the musicians do not limit themselves to the strict repetition of basic musical melodies, but they also enrich their music with improvisations that accompany the dancers in corresponding dancing improvisations.

Musical Instruments

The basic musical instruments of the traditional Cretan music are the lyra and the lute ("Laouto"). However, in the province of Sitia, as in western Crete, the use of violin instead of lyra is more common. In a lot of cases, a mandolin accompanies the lute and the lyra. The mandolin is also often used to sing serenades, the traditional love songs.

Wind instruments, such as the "hampioli" (Cretan flute) and "askomantoura" (the ancient "askaulos") have an important place in the Cretan music tradition.

Dances

The basic Cretan dances are "Pentozalis" (which has its origins in the ancient dance "Pyrrihios"), "kastrinos pidixtos", "sousta", "siganos surtos" and "haniotikos surtos". These dances also have their local variations and alterations. Even in our days, traditional Cretan dances are very popular and all cretans know how to dance them. Most of these dances still maintain their ancient circular typology. The dancers form a circle and the first dancer (usually a man) has the opportunity to show his skills with impressive improvisations.

The songs

The Cretan traditional music includes primarily dancing rythms. In a lot of cases, the music simply accompanies the songs, which are often rhythmic recitations of the Cretan poems-rimes "mantinades", or serenades, that are often played in traditional feasts and festivals. The easiness with which the Cretan musicians compose the appropriate serenades for each circumstance is proverbial. In Sitia, the Sitian "Kontylies" (lyra or violin playing skills) dominate and express in an exceptional manner the unique psychosynthesis of the Sitian people

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