Ierapetra

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Ierapetra (Greek: Ιεράπετρα, meaning Sacred Stone; ancient name: Ἱεράπυτνα Hierapytna[2]) is a town and municipality in the southeast of the Greek island of Crete.

History

The town of Ierapetra (in the local dialect: Γεράπετρο Gerapetro) is located on the southeast coast of Crete, along the beach of Ierapetra Bay. It lies south of Agios Nikolaos and southwest of Sitia and is an important regional centre. With its 16,139 inhabitants (2011) it is the most populous town in the regional unit of Lasithi, and the fourth town of Crete. Ierapetra is nicknamed "bride of the Libyan Sea" because of its position as the only town on the south coast of Crete.

Antiquity

Bronze statue of a young boy found in Ierapetra (1st century BC) in Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Ierapetra has had a place in the history of Crete since the Minoan period. The Greek and later Roman town of Hierapytna was on the same site as present day Ierapetra. In the Classical Age Hierapytna became the strongest town of eastern Crete and as a Dorian city in continual rivalry with Praisos, the last Minoan city in the island. Later, in the 3rd century BC, Hierapytna was notorious for its tendency to piracy and took part in the Cretan War along with other Cretan cities in the side of Philip V of Macedon against Knossos and Rhodes. Its importance as independent state ended when it was conquered by the Romans in 67 BC (the last free city in Crete) and was surpassed by the city of Gortyn. The Roman conquest of Ierapetra occurred about the same time as that of Knossos, Cydonia and Lato.[3] Today remains of the Roman harbor can still be seen in the shallow bay. In AD 824 it was destroyed by Arab invaders, only to be rebuilt as a base for pirates again.

Venetian and Ottoman eras

View of the old venetian fortress.
Old Ottoman mosque
Napoleon's residence.

In the Venetian Age, from the 13th to the 17th centuries, Ierapetra - now known by its present name - became prosperous again. The Fortress of Kales, built in the early years of Venetian rule and strengthened by Francesco Morosini in 1626 [4] to protect the harbor, is a remnant of this period, although local myth says it was built by the Genoese pirate Pescatore in 1212. In July 1798 Ierapetra made a small step into world history: Napoleon stayed with a local family [5] after the Battle of the Pyramids in Egypt. The house where he stayed can still be seen. In the Ottoman period a mosque was built in the town. Finds from Ierapetra's past can be found in the local Museum of Antiquities, formerly a school for Muslim children. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a well preserved statue of Persephone.

Modern Era

The promenade.

Present day Ierapetra consists of two quite distinct parts, Kato Mera and Pano Mera. Kato Mera is the old town on the southwestern headland. It is characterized by a medieval street layout with narrow alleyways, cul-de-sacs and small houses, creating a village-like atmosphere. The former mosque and the "house of Napoleon" can be found in this neighbourhood, as can Aghios Georgios metropolitan church (built in 1856) in the town's center. It is considered one of the most interesting churches of Crete. The ceiling of the church has many "blind" domes. Those, as well as the central dome, are wooden (mainly cedar wood). Pano Mera is the much bigger new town, with wider streets and three and four storey houses. Pano Mera is still expanding towards the west, north and east.

Ierapetra's main shopping street is Koundouriotou. In the centre the town hall, the museum and two cinemas can be found. The local hospital lies in Pano Mera. To the west is the southern headland with the fortress, a port for fishing boats and ´Navmachia´ area, where sea fights among slaves for citizens´ entertainment were taking place during the Roman period. Further east is a short beach with bars and restaurants, followed by the quay for ferries to Chrissi. Further on lies the main boulevard with hotels, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. At its end a new promenade leads alongside Ierapetra Bay's long beach.

Municipality

The church of Agia Fotini

The municipality of Ierapetra was formed under the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 2 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[18]

The former municipality of Ierapetra, a municipal unit since January 2011, covers an area of 394.774 square kilometres (152.423 sq mi), a population of 23,708 (2011) and consisted of the town of Ierapetra (population 16,139 in 2011), several villages and hamlets and the island of Chrissi. These settlements are: Agia Fotia, Agios Ioannis, Anatoli, Amoudares, Ano Simi, Christos, Drakalevri, Episkopi, Ferma, Gdochia, Gra Lygia, Kaimenos, Kalamafka, Kalogeri, Kamara, Kato Chorio, Kavousi, Kentri, Koutsounari, Males, Mathokotsana, Melises, Meseleri, Monastiraki, Minos, Mythi, Mournies, Myrtos, Nea Anatoli, Nea Myrtos, Pachia Ammos, Panagia, Pano Chorio, Psathi, Riza, Selakano, Stavros, Stomio, Sykia, Thrypti, Vainia, Vasiliki, Vatos, Xerambela and Xerokambos.

The municipal unit Makry Gialos, established as a municipality in 1998, with an area of 156.300 square kilometres (60.348 sq mi) and a population of 3,894 in 2011, consists of the communities of Schinokapsala with the settlements of Achlia, Galini and Mavros Kolimbos, Oreino with the settlements of Agios Panteleimon, Andrianos and Kalyvitis, Stavrochori with the settlements of Koutsouras, Lapithos and Tsikalaria, Chrysopigi with the settlement of Mpemponas, Agios Stefanos with the settlement of Makry Gialos, Pefki with the settlements of Analipsi, Aspros Potamos and Pilalimata, Lithines with the settlements of Azali and Lagada, and finally Perivolakia with the settlements of Epano Pervolakia, Kalo Nero, Moni Kapsa and Pezoulas.

Province

The province of Ierapetra (Greek: Επαρχία Ιεράπετρας) was one of the provinces of Lasithi. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipal unit Ierapetra.[19] It was abolished in 2006.

Geology

Gorges - Canyons

Beaches

Golden coast.

Ierapetra was chosen among 500 South European destinations by the QualityCoast International Certification Program of EUCC as one of the 50 most attractive tourist destinations for visitors interested in cultural heritage, environment and sustainability. .[20] In 2012 Ierapetra was one of the only three destinations in Greece that won the Gold QualityCoast award, ranking 2nd among the TOP 100 chosen European destinations.[21]

Other

  • Bramiana Dam, an artificial dam and lake. The lake was made to supply the local greenhouses with water in the dry summer. The lake area is the biggest wetland on Crete, and has become a nature reserve known for its birdlife.
  • Mount Dikti
  • Mount Thrypti
  • Selakano Forest
  • Ano Simi

Climate

Ierapetra average annual temperature is 19.7 °C (67 °F) (1956-1997 HNMS).[22] According to HNMS published material Ierapetra alongside Karpathos Island is Greece's warmest city with a mean annual temperature of 20.1 °C (68 °F).[23] Ierapetra has 3101 hours of sunshine per year and is again Greece's sunniest city according to HNMS[24]

 

[hide]Climate data for Ierapetra, Crete, Greece (1956-1997)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F) 16.1
(61)
16.2
(61.2)
17.6
(63.7)
20.4
(68.7)
24.5
(76.1)
29.2
(84.6)
31.8
(89.2)
31.8
(89.2)
28.8
(83.8)
24.9
(76.8)
21.1
(70)
17.7
(63.9)
23.34
(74.02)
Average low °C (°F) 8.9
(48)
8.7
(47.7)
9.7
(49.5)
11.8
(53.2)
15.2
(59.4)
19.4
(66.9)
22.7
(72.9)
22.9
(73.2)
20.2
(68.4)
16.7
(62.1)
13.5
(56.3)
10.6
(51.1)
15.02
(59.06)
Precipitation mm (inches) 133.8
(5.268)
94.9
(3.736)
80.1
(3.154)
35.0
(1.378)
14.2
(0.559)
5.6
(0.22)
0.5
(0.02)
2.0
(0.079)
20.4
(0.803)
90.5
(3.563)
75.9
(2.988)
108.9
(4.287)
661.8
(26.055)
Source: HNMS[25]

 

Transportation

One can travel to Ierapetra by plane boarding onto domestic or charter flights to Sitia airport (59 km) or Heraklion airport (94 km). There are also frequent ferry departures from Piraeus to Sitia and Heraklion ports.

Chrysi

Main article: Chrysi (island)
Chrysi beach.

Chrysi (Golden) or Gaidhouronisi (Donkey Island) is an uninhabited island some twelve kilometres (7.5 miles) off the coast of the town of Ierapetra. It is 5 km (3 mi) long and on average one kilometre (0.62 miles) wide. The island's average height above sea level is 10 metres (33 feet); Kefala, the highest point of the island, is 31 metres (102 feet) above sea level. The island is renowned for its white beaches, sand dunes and forest of pines and junipers. The western tip of the island has some remains of past settlement: a few Minoan ruins and a 13th-century chapel dedicated to Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas). It was inhabited into Byzantine times. The main sources of wealth were fishing, salt export, and the export of porphyra (Tyrian purple), a scarlet dye made from shells. After the Byzantine period the island was abandoned, although later it was used as a hideout.

Nowadays the island is protected as an "area of intense natural beauty". Especially in summer, the island attracts many tourists. As camping is forbidden on the island, only day trips are possible. Ferries leave the quay at Ierapetra daily at 10 A.M. and return at 5 P.M. Visitors are not allowed to roam freely over the island, but only on designated paths and some beaches close to the eastern tip of the island. There is a small tavern at the ferry landing. 700 metres (2,297 feet) to the east of Chrysi lies the rocky islet of Mikronisi (Small Island).

Dionysos Tavern & Rooms, Preveli Beach, Crete, Greece.

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