Port Town in Crete
lies in the Far East of Crete's south coast. After Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon it is the fourth biggest town on the island. Ierapetra is also the sourthernmost town in Europe, and to the individual tourists' pleasure it gives home to Europe's southernmost LIDL market as well.
During the Minoan age and in ancient times the town was named Hierapytna. Later it was also called Kamiros or Pitna, until in the Venetian era the name Ierapetra became official.
West of Ierapetra, an endless areal of greenhouses from plastic foil spreads until short before Myrtos, covering a total of 13 million square meters. Above the coast there is an artificial reservoir which guarantees irrigation for this huge acreage. In fact, the region of Ierapetra in Crete provides big parts of Greece with fresh vegetable.
Counting some 12,000 inhabitants, Ierapetra is before Agios Nicolaos and Sitia the biggest town in the governmental district of Lassithi. Kato Mera, the Old Town of Ierapetra, is of typical Mediterranean flair and has many small shops and workshops where hand-made souvenirs of many kind are on offer. The church of St. George is worth a visit, and so is the very well preserved Venetian fortress which watches over the entrance of the small fishing port and marina. Its architecture is remarkably similar to the one at Frangokastello, but that one is much more dilapidated.
Along the bay of Ierapetra there are many cosy holiday apartments for rent, and since some years there is a beautifully designed promenade by the port and along the coastal road which runs between the Old Town and the small beach. Some of the restaurants along that road have roofed pergolas on the promenade, and during the season one can watch the waiters carrying full trays from the restaurants across the street to the pergolas (and empty trays back to the restaurants as well).
Behind the pier which forms the eastern border of the beach there is another shore promenade which is newer and much longer. It also has restaurants with roofed pergolas but those attach directly to the row of houses along the promenade, and the waiters do not need to cross a road.
Besides the beauty of nature, the area also provides the highest temperatures and the highest number of sunny days in Europe. In eastward direction from the city, many beautiful sandy beaches spread on via Ferma and Makrigialos until the 41 kms distant village of Goudouras. Reliable rental cars for excursions as well as for the transfers from the airport to the accommodation and back are on offer e.g. at Eurocars where you can book your car in advance.
About a one hour boat trip South of Ierapetra there is Chrisi island which is Europe's southernmost nature preserve. White sands, colorful volcanic rocks, and a cedar forest make the island's tropical character. During the season there is a regular boat connection from the port of Ierapetra to Chrisi.
Text and photos by Ingo H. Dietrich
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