The capital town of the district (county) of the same name, this lovely town of south- eastern Crete is situated 105 km away from Iraklion, 36 km from Agios Nikolaos and 56 km from Sitia.
Ierapetra (GR: Ιεράπετρα) combines a brilliant past with a present of economic growth and extension. It has a
population of 13000 inhabitants which is the largest in the prefecture of Lassithi and the fourth largest in all Crete.
The town has :
-Kindergartens and full facilities for primary and secondary education, and the authority for the inspection of the county's primary schools is based in the town.
-Public Treasury branch office
-Post Office (ELTA)
-Telephone & Telegraph office (OTE)
-Electricity Board (DEI)
-Public Health Insurance Branch (IKA)
-Agricultural Research Station
-A town Band
-Packaging plant for vegetable produce
-An important Archaeological Collection
-A well equipped hospital
-A library of 3,000 volumes jointly owned by the Town Council and the Educational Society
-A Cultural Center, and
-Branches of all the main Greek Banks.
Ierapetra is a pleasant place to visit all year round, as the temperature seldom falls below 120 centigrade, and the mean annual temperature is 200 centigrade; also it has the most hours of sunshine and lowest rainfall of all Greece.
Tourist facilities improve all time, both in terms of services and the number of beds available.
The beaches of Ierapetra are awarded each single year with Blue Flags, by the European Union.
Practically all the shore of Ierapetra, from east to west, within a distance of 4 miles is suitable for swimming.
In the town there are two organized beaches, with umbrellas, sun-beds, bars, water sports etc. One is located east of the town on the way to Makry Gialos
and the other smaller one near the port, in front of the old town.
The visitor can take a leisurely walk in the vivid center of the town, along the coast, in the small municipal park near the Town Hall, or in the quiet picturesque narrow streets of
- the old part of the town.
Pick up a handmade gift from a colorful market stall and enjoy the exciting sounds of busy Cretan life!
The character and the charm of the cosy old neighborhood has been retained, while it has been given new life as a shopping and eating experience for the visitor.
Local handicrafts and souvenirs, valuable gold or silver items, fashion wear, leather goods or the latest sports goods can be found at surprising prices all over town.
Blooming yards, narrow paved street, and churches.
In this part of the town every little quarter has its own old church clear and perfectly preserved. Every one of them has its own history.
There are some small hotels, cafes, taverns and shops in the old town, and many sights to visit,
such as the mosque and the Ottoman fountain
and Napoleon's house
When Napoleon was en route to Egypt and his campaign against the Mamelukes, he stopped off , according to the tradition, and spent a night in Ierapetra.
Sights & Monuments
The visitor to the town today will search in vain for remains of the indomitable city which succeeded in dominating the whole of eastern Crete and was the last city to surrender to the Roman legions- a city which made political contacts not only with many parts of Greece but also with the Near East and North Africa.
There is nothing to be seen of the public buildings, theatres, houses, cisterns and baths- nothing remains, at least nothing has yet found of the temples and even sacred precincts dedicated to the particular deities worshiped by the inhabitants.
The archaeologist' s spade has confirmed that the ancient Hierapytna was indeed located where the texts of early travellers claimed, in the area now known as Viglia or Poles to the west of the modern town.
The wealth of the ancient city was so impressive that Venetian governors such as Alvise Grimani and Turkish pashas like Mahmout Pasha, made systematic searches looking for archaeological treasures to carry off back to Italy or Constantinople.
The port of Ierapetra is located at the old town and gives shelter to small boats and ships. Efforts are made to enlarge the port so to be able for bigger ships to dock and make Ierapetra the only one town on the south coast line of Crete in direct line with the African countries and the Levant.
To day only fishing boats and small cruising ships can moor.
Various travellers of past centuries have written about the ruins of ancient Hierapytna
. Chr. Buondelmondi travelled around Crete in 1415 A.C. and writes:
"... we also saw a big harbor. I concluded that due to age and the action of the sea which spreads away to the south, the harbor has become silted up. The villagers have converted it from the once famous port that it was into a fertile field"
The Fort " KALES "
, built by the Venetians and Known to Ierapetrans as the "Kales", has been erected on the top of the southernmost mole of the ancient harbour. It is one of those monuments of the past which, because of its solid construction and the fact that it was still garrisoned until the latest years of the last century, still exists today to serve as a reminder of some of the nation's most difficult times.
The Church of Afentis Christos
The church of Afentis Christos,
is near the fort, a little to the west in the "Sarakina" area.
It has two aisle, the second being dedicated to St Charalambos. There is a beautiful wooden iconostasis and a number of fine icons.
It is regarded as being the oldest church in the town, probably having been built in the 14th century. In about 1970 however, the western end was extended,
changing the basic form of the church.
It is an old custom for the metropolitan to celebrate the Resurrection, and the burning of Judas, at this church each Ester.
The Museum of Ierapetra
was founded at the end of the 19th century and is housed in the building of the Commercial Ottoman School, which is protected by a preservation order. The collection includes findings from the broader area and from the Minoan to the Roman period. Among the items are painted sarcophagi, lamps, vases, figurines, relief plaques. One of the most important exhibits of the museum is the Clay sarcophagus dated to 1450-1400 B.C.