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Agios Nikólaos, Elounda and Spinalonga

Agios Nikólaos

is the capital of the Prefecture of Lasithi with around 10 000 residents and lies along the Bay of Mirabello. It’s named after the Byzantine chapel of St. Nicholas, built during the 7th century AD.
The town is built on the location of the ancient ‘Lato pros Kamara’, the port of ancient Lato.

One of the main features and attractions is the picturesque Lake Voulismeni, a small lagoon in the center of the town. It’s connected to the sea with a harbor on the other side of the bridge. There is also a big harbor, the marina, on the other side of the town with lots of (luxury) yachts and other boats. Agios has loads of shops, tavernas and bars, you can find pretty much anything you need there. In summer it’s really touristic and can be very busy. In winter it’s a nice town to go for a little shopping, sight-seeing and having a coffee on one of the many terraces.

What to see and do?

  • the lake Voulismeni
  • the marina (the first on Crete)
  • the Archaeological Museum
  • the beaches in and around the town
  • church of Agios Nikolaos (built between the 7th and 9th century)
  • 12th century church of Panagia Vrefotrophos
  • shopping

Elounda and Plaka

Once a picturesque fishing village, Elounda is now a real tourist resort. It took it’s name from the ancient settlement of Olounda, one of the most important cities during Minoan times, nowadays below sea level. The harbor of Elounda, also known as the Gulf of Korfos, is a natural, beautiful lagoon which is bordered by rugged peninsulas. Minoan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires have all been here. Elounda has many luxury resorts, visited by VIP’s and (the very) wealthy tourists.

Plaka is a small fishing village north of Elounda. When going to Spinalonga, it’s best to go from here. You can always find someone to take you to the island, so you can go after the bigger tourist-boats have gone, to see it without the crowds. Plaka has a few traditional taverns and some nice beaches.

Spinalonga

Spinalonga is a small island in front of Plaka. It has an area of 85 acres and its maximum height is 53 meters. The original name was Kalydon, but the Venetians renamed it Spinalonga. It was a stronghold for ancient Olounda, which flourished until the 8th century. The Venetians built the fort in 1574 to protect the area against the Turks. The island became a merchant-village in Turkish times. But the island is most famous for being a leper-colony. From 1903 the government moved lepers from around the cities of Crete, and later from allover Greece, to the island until 1957 when they found the cure for leprosy and the people could finally leave. Over 300000 people visit the island every year. It became even more famous after the book ‘The Island’ from Victoria Hislop.

Agios Nikolaos

Elounda

Plaka

Spinalonga

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