Sitia (Greek Σητεία) is a port town in the far east of Crete. With 9,075 inhabitants (1999) it is the smallest town in the prefecture of Lasithi. It lies to the east of Agios Nikolaos and to the northeast of Ierapetra.
The town is one of the economic centers of the Lasithi region. European route E75, which ends in Vardø, starts in Sitia. An international airport is under construction; it will presumably become operational in summer 2005.
The earliest settlement of the town dates back to Minoan times; excavations have unearthed remnants of settlements as early as 1050 BC. According to Diogenes Laertius, Sitia was the home of Myson of Chen, one of the Seven Sages of Greece. 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 so as not to fall into the hands of the Turks. 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 harbor.
Sitia has so far been spared the blessings of mass tourism; even though there is a long and beautiful beach along the road leading to Vai and several places of historical interest, the town is visited by few tourists and has largely kept its genuine mediterranean flair.
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