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Sitia (Greek: Σητεία) refers both to the port town, with 8,900 inhabitants (2001) and to the municipality with 19,209 inhabitants (2001) in Lasithi, Crete (Greece). It lies to the east of Agios Nikolaos and to the northeast of Ierapetra. Sitia port is on the Sea of Crete, which is a part of the Aegean Sea[1] and is one of the economic centers of the Lasithi region. European route E75, which ends in Vardø, starts in Sitia. Sitia is served by the Sitia Public Airport. Sitia has not experienced the effects of mass tourism even though there is a long beach along the road leading to Vai and several places of historical interest. The town is visited by few tourists.


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Municipality

The municipality Sitia was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[2]

Itanos
Lefki, Lasithi
Sitia


History
View of the marina.
Panorama of Sitia.

The earliest settlement of the town dates back to before Minoan times; excavations in the neighbouring site of Petras have unearthed architectural remains that date back to the end of the Neolithic period 3000 BC and continue throughout the Bronze Age 3000-1050 BC. In addition, there are several Minoan settlements unearthed in the various archaeological sites in the municipality, such as in Itanos and in Mochlos.

According to Diogenes Laertius, Sitia was the home of Myson of Chen, one of the Seven Sages of Greece.

Venetian Era

The town was later expanded and fortified by the Venetians who used it as a base of operations for the Eastern Mediterranean. During the Venetian occupation, the town was destroyed three times: by an earthquake in 1508, by a pirate attack in 1538 and finally by the Venetians themselves in 1651. Sitia was then conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

Modern Era

After the Venetians moved out of Crete, the town was abandoned for two centuries until it was resettled by farmers in 1869. The main remnant of the Venetian occupation is the Kazarma (from Italian casa di arma), the old fortress overlooking the harbour.

Infrastructure

The municipality of Sitia is served by Sitia Public Airport with several domestic destinations, the first landing was on June 7, 1984 and the airport opened officially on June 9, 1984. Construction of new building facilities that included a control tower was completed in May 1993. Runway and apron extension works were finished in May 2003. Recently (2011), the local authorities have completed negotiations with international travel agents for organizing regular charter flights starting from May 2012.[3] Currently (2011), local officials are under negotiations with the low-cost airline Ryanair[4]

In addition, Sitia is served by a port which connects Sitia and eastern Crete with several other Greek islands as well as with the port of Piraeus.[5] The town also has a marina which accommodates smaller fishing boats and yachts.

Health Services

The General Hospital of Sitia was founded in 1947 as a local health center and was later (1994) relocated to a new 7500sqm (110-bed capacity) building and accordingly upgraded to serve as the main hospital for the municipality of Sitia and the surrounding area.[6]

Environmentally protected areas

The are a number of sites in the municipality of Sitia that are protected as National Parks, Aesthetic Forests, Wildlife Refuges etc under national and international laws. Notable examples are:

Dionysades Islands which carry many rare and endangered plant species and also serve as a refuge of several animal species (mostly birds and small reptiles), including the falcon, Falco eleonorae, which finds sanctuary here.
Vai Palm Forest.
Richtis Gorge and waterfall.[7]

Municipality of Sitia (or Siteia), population 14338 in 2001:


Attractions

Vai forest and beach, the largest natural palm forest in Europe.
Moni Toplou, founded in the mid 15th century, is one of the most significant monasteries in Crete.
Kazarma fortress, in the town of Sitia.
Richtis Gorge and Waterfall (at Exo Mouliana village). Pictures1, Pictures2.
Gorge of the Dead (at Kato Zakros).
Various archeological sites with Minoan civilization settlements from the Bronze Age, such as in Itanos and Mochlos.


Notable people

Vitsentzos Kornaros - poet (composer of Erotokritos)
Myson - philosopher (one of the 7 legendary wise men of ancient Greece)
Stratis Kalogeridis - musician of local folk music
Giannis Dermitzakis - musician of local folk music
Katerina Papoutsaki - actress
Giannis Savvidakis - singer
Giorgos Mazonakis - singer
Eleni Kastani - actress
Jenny Hiloudaki - model
Seraina Kazamia - model

References

^ Peter Saundry, C.Michael Hogan & Steve Baum. 2011. Sea of Crete. Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds.M.Pidwirny & C.J.Cleveland. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC.
^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
^ Charter flights 2012, (in Greek).
^ Ryanair to fly to Sitia (in Greek).
^ Sitia Port
^ General Hospital of Sitia (in Greek).
^ Richtis Gorge and Waterfall

Municipalities of the Lasithi Prefecture

Agios Nikolaos | Ierapetra | Itanos | Lefki | Makrys Gialos | Neapoli | Oropedio Lasithiou | Sitia

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