Sitia – the birthplace of the great poet Vitsentzos Kornaros

Sitia is a beautiful coastal town of eastern Crete in the Lassithi prefecture and it is 150 km away from Heraklion. It is the seat of the Sitia municipality and is the home of the poet Vitsentzos Kornaros.

Although the economy of Sitia relies mainly on tourism , it is also largely based on agriculture, crafts and trade. During the Middle Ages it was an important commercial harbor of Byzantium. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1508 and by pirates in 1538. In 1651 the Venetians destroyed it to deliver it to the Ottomans. Sitia was rebuilt in 1870 under the name of Avnie , but the name did not prevail.

The Archaeological Museum of Sitia includes artifacts from the surrounding area dating from 3500 BC – 500 AD. Unique is the gold and ivory male figurine found at the position of Roussolakos near Palaíkastron. The fortress of the castle, the Kazarma (Casa di arma), was the barracks of the guard or the headquarters during the Venetian period, i.e. one of the buildings of the medieval Sitia which was surrounded by a wall . The city’s fortifications and Kazarma date to the late Byzantine period. The pirate raids, however, and frequent revolutions of the population during the Venetian occupation and even earthquakes resulted in successive damage to the walls and Kazarma, until the Venetians themselves had to destroy the walls in order to fix them, which ultimately didn’t happen .

During the Turkish occupation the perimeter walls were not rebuilt, but Kazarma was restored and today the Turkish additions can be seen such as the battlements. The Kazarma has been restored and is open to the public, offering panoramic views of the bay and the town of Sitia. During the summer in a specially designed area it hosts cultural events (Kornaria ), such as theatrical performances, concerts, lecture, art exhibitions etc.

In Sitia there is also a folklore museum at the initiative of the cultural association ” Vitsentzos Kornaros ” and its exhibits belong to the 19th century and early 20th century and include embroidery, weaving, local costumes and many other items. It also features a showroom – museum of local products created by the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Sitia to highlight local products and the economic development of the region, with dominant products being the olive oil and local wines.

The access road to Sitia is via two main routes . The south leading to Ierapetra crossing the Sitia province from the Libyan to the Cretan Sea and the northern road that connects Sitia with the capital of the prefecture, Agios Nikolaos. With the rest of Greece it is connected by air and boat and by bus which runs to all villages of the province and other cities. The airport can accommodate small and medium size aircraft with regular flights to and from Athens, Alexandroupolis, Rhodes, Karpathos, Kasos and Heraklion and it also has the ability to host charter and private aircraft. By boat Sitia is connected with Piraeus and the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.