Although staying in the sweet mountain town of Pendamodi all month is a great option, there are many places to see on Crete, which stretches 160 miles in length, but only 45 miles in some places in width. The topography is as varied as my home state of Colorado – fields, mountains, streams, desert, but all beautiful in their own right. One of our side trips this summer was to Ierapetra on the southeast shore of the island. We were surprised to find a city with over 20,000 people. And the views, of course are spectacular.

Ierapetra, meaning Sacred Stone, is a sun-drenched, peaceful and welcoming town and is famous for its beaches and sunsets. It seemed to attract mostly Cretans as opposed to foreigners and the waterfront is teeming with tavernas, bars, and gelato stores. It’s the fourth most populous city on the island and has developed into two sections – one an old town with narrow streets, a mosque, and a village-like atmosphere, and another more modern section with a large open air shopping area, a town hall, and restaurants.
From the 13th to the 17th centuries, Ierapetra, became prosperous under the influence of Venice, one of its manyconquerors.  The Fortress of Kales, built in the early years of Venetian rule, was built to protect the harbor, and is a remnant of this period. Later, when the Ottomans occupied the island, a mosque was built and remains in the old town section.


We visited a small museum, which was formerly a school for Muslim children. An interesting number of finds from Ierapetra’s past can be found in the Museum of Antiquities. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a well-preserved statue of Persephone and some pottery dating back to the Minoan period.


Ierapetra is driven by agriculture in the winter and tourism in the summer. Olive oil has been produced there since Minoan times but presently, large quantities of fruit and vegetables have also been exported. Greenhouses surround the city and as you drive by, all you see are plants overtaking their space. It’s quite impressive. This part of Greece definitely requires another visit.


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