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Heraklion – 5 km

{#images_43.jpg}The largest urban centre in Crete, the capital of the prefecture of Heraklion and the economic centre of the island. The first European civilisation, the Minoan, flourished on this land 5000 years ago. The conquering of Constantinople by the Franks in 1204, left Crete under the sovereignty of the Venetians until 1669. During this period, Heraklion experienced significant cultural development and became the capital of the ``Regno di Candia``. However, all this cultural and spiritual development came to a sudden end in 1669 with the invasion of Crete by the Turks. Crete became autonomous in 1897, to be united with Greece in 1913. Nowadays the cultural heritage of the city of Heraklion offers a variety of forms of modern entertainment. 

Agios Nikolaos – 64 km

{#images_44.jpg}The capital of the Prefecture of Lasithi is one of the most highly developed tourist towns in Greece. The town is built today, where the ancient "Lato pros Kamares" used to be, which was the harbour of "Lato Etera", an important and powerful city located near the village of Kritsa. In the Roman years and the first years of the Byzantine period Agios Nikolaos also served as a harbour.  During the Venetian occupation, the Venetians built the fortress Mirabello (meaning beautiful view), in the site where the Prefecture building stands today. The fortress is not saved today, but it gave its name to the Prefecture and to the bay, that is called Mirabello. When the Venetians built another port in the area of Elouda in the northwest, named "Porto di San Nicolo", the importance of the harbour of Agios Nikolaos lessened. The city is named after the small Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos, located on the peninsula. The church has fine frescoes from the 8th, 10th and 11th century. 

Rethimnon – 78 km     {#images_18.jpg}
Rethimnon The capital of the prefecture Rethimno is a beautiful harbour in the northern coast of Crete. The old city has maintained an atmosphere that reminds the years of the Venetian period and the Ottoman domination. But also the regions round t he harbour, have a lot of splendid monuments, as the Fortress Fortetza (1573), the Lotzja, a monument of Cretan rebirth, the krini Rjmonti, the Venetian harbour and a lot of churches such as the church of Agios Fragkiskos and and panes such as Neratzes, Arrows (Veli), Kara Muse All and Big Door.

{#images_42.jpg}Chania – 150 km

Is the main town in the west of Crete, with the second largest population after Heraklion. It is divided into the New Town and the Old Town, built around the Venetian harbour with numerous picturesque narrow streets and architecture showing the influence of decades of foreign domination. Recent excavations have established that the ancient city of Kydonia was also located here. The city dates back to the Neolithic period and recent archaeological digs on the acropolis of Kasteli have uncovered remains of a significant Minoan community, known as Kydonia. In the past it was one of the most important cities of Crete right up to the Arabian seizure in 824 AD. The Venetians purchased Crete in about 1204 but lost it to the Genoese between 1267 and 1290. The city of Chania was rebuilt on the site of the Byzantine acropolis in 1252 and after improving the fortifications at Kastelli the Venetians built their own cathedral plus many palaces and houses in the surrounding area for their people. In 1645, after a two month siege with terrible losses, the Turks overwhelmed the whole island. Chania Chania became the Turkish island capital. Its churches were converted to mosques. The Turks were expelled in 1898 when Prince George became the High Commissioner of Crete, though the actions of the Great Powers of Britain, France and Russia. His regency was brief as Crete soon, finally, became part of the Greek state. In World War II, Chania suffered severe bombardment. Nearly everything was obliterated, apart from the area around the harbour.

{#images_45.jpg}Ierapetra – 101 km
the Most Southern Town in Europe The town is present throughout the history of Crete. According to the myths, Cyrbas was one of the first settlers. The town was initially called Cyrbas, from the name of its founder. Later it was called Kamiros, Pytna, Ierapytna and eventually Ierapetra.    Growing from the early years of the ancient Cretan civilization, this gifted and strategic corner of Europe was always a strong point of interest and activity. Ancient Ierapetra will reach her peak during the 2nd and 1st century BC. Ierapetra The town expands to a very large area of southeast Crete which includes the once powerful cities of Pressos, Priansos, Malla and Oleros which once blocked her expansion. Ierapetra resisted the Roman invaders harder than any other Cretan city, however it was destroyed by the conquerors in 66 BC. It was rebuilt to a magnificent city according to the Roman model with a theatre and other public buildings. In the Byzantine period Ierapetra sustained her significance but was destroyed by the Saracens in 828 AD who rebuilt it partially, mainly to use it as a center of piracy operations.

{#images_46.jpg}Sitia - 139 km
Sitia A small and pleasant coastal town, built in a semicircle on the western side of the Bay of Sitia, a typical, peaceful Mediterranean port. The name Sitia derived from the ancient city of Itia, birthplace of one of the seven wise-men of the antiquity, Mison. In the site that the town is built today only few archaeological findings have been excavated. Middle-Minoan and Late-Minoan tombs, Geometrical and Hellenic statues and shells, Roman buildings and an Early-Christian Basilica. Sitia existed during the Late-Minoan period and until the Venetian period. During the Venetian occupation the town of Sitia was destroyed three times. In 1508 by a terrible earthquake, in 1538 by the pirate Barbarosa and in 1651 by the Venetians so as not to fall in the hands of the Turks. For two centuries Sitia ceased to exist as a town, until 1869. The present city was built in 1870. Since then, Sitia is still developing to one of the most important urban areas in Crete.

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