The site was first discovered by a teacher who noticed that two pupils were playing football using a minoan vase as a ball!. He mentioned the fact to the authorities and the excavations that followed unearthed about 300 tombs of the Late Minoan III period (1450-1100 BC). As the tombs had not been yet looted, the archaeologists found significant treasures like vases, weapons, statuettes, jewels etc. It is obvious that such a big cemetery should belong to a big city which, despite the extended investigations of the archaeologists, has not been discovered yet.
Lato (Gr: Λατώ) was an ancient city of Crete, the ruins of which are located approximately 3 km from the small town of Kritsa. The Dorian city-state was built in a defensible position overlooking Mirabello Bay between two peaks, both of which became acropolises to the city. Although the city probably predates the arrival of the Dorians, the ruins date mainly from the Dorian period (fifth and fourth centuries BC). The city was destroyed ca. 200 BCE, but its port (Lato Etera or Lato pros Kamara), located near Agios Nikolaos was in use during Roman rule. There is some suggestion that the city was named after the goddess Leto (of which Lato is the usual Doric form) and may be mentioned in Linear B tablets as RA-TO. Lato also minted coins in antiquity, bearing the likeness of the goddess Eileithyia who appears to have been the one particularly worshipped at Lato. Nearchus, admiral of Alexander the Great, was born at Lato.
Agia Ekaterini church and Exhibition of Byzantine Art and Ecclesiastical objects. A small sinaitic church of St. Catherine with a Basilica design, houses an exhibition with works of art from the Cretan renaissance. Among the exhibits are some of the most important icons of the Cretan School, ecclesiastical books and manuscripts, vestments, ecclesiastical vessels and relics, wall-paintings, wood-carvings and sculpture.
A Venetian seaside fortress situated at the entrance of the old harbour. It was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new Venetian fortification, in order to protect the pier and the port. It took its last shape in the years between 1523 - 1540 replacing another construction destroyed by an earthquake. It has been continuously repaired due to the violent waves of the sea that always used to cause damages to its stonework and foundation. It was built with big blocks of stone and it consisted of two floors. On the ground floor there exist 26 rooms that were used to house captains or to store food and ammunition. On the upper floor there are battlements for placing canons. The upper parts of the castle and the existing base of the minaret are Turkish changes. On the outside of the main sides of the castle, there are relief plaques that stand out with the lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice. During the Turkish period in the dark and humid rooms of the castle, the Turks used to torture and imprison the Cretan revolutionaries. Today, the castle is open to visitors and during the summer period it is used for various cultural activities (art exhibitions, music, theatre).
Greek writer, poet and philosopher. Nikos Kazantzákis (1883–1957 GR: Νίκος Καζαντζάκης), whose best-known work (in English) is the novel Zorba the Greek, was born in Heraklion, Crete (Kriti), and educated at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, where he received his law degree. After graduating he went to France, where he studied philosophy under Henri Bergson. Also well-known in English is his novel 'The Greek Passion', about the reenactment of a passion play in a Greek village. He is buried on the wall surrounding the city of Heraklion near the Chania Gate, because the Orthodox Church ruled out his being buried in a cemetery. His epitaph reads "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free." (Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα. Δε φοβάμαι τίποτα. Είμαι λέφτερος.) The 50th anniversary of the death of Nikos Kazantzakis was selected as main motif for a high value euro collectors' coins; the €10 Greek Nikos Kazantzakis commemorative coin, minted in 2007.
One of the most beautiful sandy beaches of Crete, extends from a clump of rocks riveted in the shallow waters in the south to the Kalamaki settlement in the North. In Minoan times there used to be the ancient port of Phaistos. The antiquities lie just a few meters away from the sea.
Rich displays cover the periods 3500 B.C to 500 A.D. The oldest artifacts come from the wider region of Sitia. The museum is divided into five chronological parts and displays include a valuable collection of vases, clay tablets in Linear A script which were found in the archives at Zakros, figurines from peak sanctuaries, a wine press from the neo-palatial period and a Hellenistic wheat mill. Of special interest is the ivory and gold male figurine which was found in Roussolakkos near Palekastro.
Koufonisi is a small island in the Libyan Sea just off the South East coast of Crete and the Cape of Goudouras. It is also named LEFKI and gave its name to the municipality. There is a cluster of small islets in the area like Makroulo, Strogylo, Trahila and Marmara. The island is deserted and in many spots it is covered with sand reminding an African landscape. Until 1976 the shepherds used to feed their sheep there but it was not inhabited. Later the Archaeological Offices of Eastern Crete under the authority of N. Papadakis began the excavations and the island proved to be full of ancient sites. A beautiful theater, made of stones, at the North West end of the island opposite the Marmaras islet was discovered. At the South East of the theater where a settlement was found, a villa with 8 rooms and a guest room was brought to light. The excavations also showed a workshop where the famous purple robes of the Romans was made. They also dig out an astonishing building, the Public Baths, dated back to 1st and 4th A.D. and ruins of an old temple. Boats depart daily from Makrygialos to Koufonissi (during the tourist season and only if the weather permits) offering day-trips.
The ancient city of Lyktos or Lyttos (GR: Λύκτος / Λύττος) was one of the most ancient and powerful towns in Crete. Although the excavations in the area reveal traces of habitation from the Hellenistic years onwards (630 B.C.), the archeologists Georgios Rethemiotakis and Angeliki Lempesi have excavated traces of habitation from the time of the destruction of Lyttos by the Knossians (219 B.C.) in excavated residences of the Hellenistic period. From the Roman period, the city was subject to new workings as testified by the architectural remnants and the many inscriptions and statues discovered. Numerous vestiges of ancient structures, objects, and broken marbles are seen, as well as an immense arch of a Roman aqueduct, by which the water was carried across a deep valley by means of a wide marble channel. Traces of the aqueduct which brought its water supply from Kournia, near Krasi village, are still visible today in the rural road to Kastamonitsa village. Lyktos had also a theatre, built in the slope of the hill the design of which we know only from the drawings of Belli (1586). Finally, the most important discovery is that of a room of nearly 14 metres by 11.40 metres, with marble flooring and a series of four stone platforms along its two longer sides. The room was erected, according to the inscription that was found at the site, at the beginning of the second century B.C. This room was identified as the chamber of the Roman deputies of the city and was very probably destroyed by an earthquake at 365 AD. Lyktos appears to have still been inhabited in the 7th Century AD as indicated by the excavation of late-roman shops in the area. (Late Roman Empire, 284-610 AD)
The Monastery of Kapsa is located 40 km from the town of Sitia at the exit of the Pervolakia Gorge built against the steep rocks overlooking the Libyan sea. The exact time of the foundation of the monastery is still unknown, while some believe that it was in the 15th century. Until 1841 there were only a small chapel dedicated to the Saint John the Baptist and a few cells.