The Lake of Agios Nikolaos (Voulismeni Lake)
Voulismeni Lake is a small –with sweet water at first but then joined with the sea-lake in the center of the city of Agios Nikolaos in Crete. Its diameter is 137 meters and it is 64 meters deep. Locals refer to this lagoon as just “lake”. The lake is joined with the port of the city by a canal that was opened in 1870. There is a park over the lake that offers a panoramic view. Every year, on Easter day, at midnight, the majority of the population of the city gathers around the lake in order to celebrate with fireworks and firecrackers that are used by local authorities and guests.
Lato Ancient City
Lato was one of the most important Dorian city-states in Crete, and it is possible that it had already existed before the “Dorian invasion”. Its ruins are almost 3 kilometers away from Kritsa village. Lato is built in the gap between two hills, at a naturally fortified and strategic place, which controls the pass from central to eastern Crete and it offered protection from possible attacks as well as the supervision of a big part of the Mirambello Bay. On Linear B signs it is mentioned as RA-TO. It was named after Leto (Lato is the Dorian form), the mother of Apollo and Artemis, even if the most important goddess of the city was Eileithyia who was also shown on coins. The admiral of Alexander the Great, Nearchus, was from Lato. The city was destroyed in 200 BC as well as its seaport, Kamara.
Panagia Kera Church
One of the most famous byzantine monuments in Crete (13th- 14th century), is in Logari, one kilometer away from the east of Kritsa. It is a three-aisled temple with a dome at the nave. The northern aisle is dedicated to Saint Antonios and the southern one is dedicated to Saint Anna. The aisles were made in different periods.
The nave is even older as it dates back to the 13th century. Its wall paintings show scenes from the gospels. The forms are strict and imposing and of an archaic style. Our Lady of the Sign was at the semi-dome of the recess. At the arch of the Bema you can see the Feast of the Ascension and low, behind the Altar Stone the high priests. At the dome, there are four demonstrated: angles and below four holy days out of Dodekaorton (the 12 holy days): Baptism, Ypapanti (Presentation of Jesus at the temple), Lazarus’ Resurrection and Palm Sunday. There are 12 prophets at the tympanum and the Evangelists at the spherical triangles. On the western arch, in eight big paintings the following scenes are shown: the Infanticide, the Birth of Jesus, the Last Supper, the Bema, the Symposium of Herod and the Harrowing of Hell. On the western wall we can see the Crucifixion and right below the punishments of the infernal. On the low walls there are the strict full-length representations of saints (Saint Georgios stands out).
The Plateau of Katharo
The Plateau of Katharo is 26 km away from Agios Nikolaos and 16 km away from the west of Kritsa at an altitude of 1200 meters. The waters of the plateau are transferred through Havgas Gorge.
In Katharo there are many farmhouses that form part of the community of Kritsa. Moreover, you can see the picturesque chapel of Afendis Christos (Lord Christ) that celebrates on August 6th.
The access takes place via Kritsa, near Agios Nikolaos, by a narrow though beautiful road. On the contrary, if you have an elevated vehicle it is worth coming through the road that joins Katharo with the Tableau of Lasithi. There is also a third road, the same rutty, which joins the plateau with Malles of Ierapetra.
Agioi Pantes and Faros Islets
At a small distance from Agios Nikolaos there are Agioi Pantes and Faros islets, which even though are not distant from each other, they have developed different fauna and flora species. Cretan wild goats (“kri-kri”) have been transferred to Agioi Pantes.
Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos
It is the biggest archaeological museum in eastern Crete that includes exhibits from the Minoan period, the Greek Dark Ages period and the archaic period, as well as from the Ancient Greek and Roman period. The Museum of Agios Nikolaos was established in 1970 with the purpose to house the numerous new archaeological findings of Eastern Crete, which until then used to be transferred to the Museum of Heraklion.
The collections include:
Findings from the Early Minoan (3000-2000 BC) cemetery of Agia Photia in Siteia
Findings from the Early Minoan II settlement at Fournou Koryfi, in Myrtos of Ierapetra
Findings from the Early Minoan II-III (2600-2200 BC) cemetery of Mochlos (islet)
Findings from the Middle Minoan Peak Sanctuaries(2000-1550 B.C.): Petsofas, Modi, Traostalos, Kalamaki, Prinias, Etiani, Kephala
Findings from the Late Minoan II (1400-1200 BC) tombs of Milatos and Kritsa
Findings from the Dark Greek Ages period deposition pit of Anavlochos, in Vrachasi.
Findings from the daedalic deposition pit of Siteia (early 7th century BC)
Findings from the archaic deposition pit of Olounda (end of 7th- 6th century)
Findings between Lato and Kamara (nowadays, Agios Nikolaos) from the Hellenic-Roman years
Some of the most important exhibits of the museum are the following:
Findings from the coastal cemetery of Agia Photia that had at least 300 tombs, which dated back to the Early Minoan Periods I and II (2300 BC). The entombments were accompanied by gifts to the dead and the total number of funeral gifts exceeds 1500 pots of various types (“chalices”, “pyxides”, “kernoi”, “prochoi”, and “censers”) and includes obsidians and bronze poniards. The Cycladic effect was strong.
Findings from peak sanctuaries of the Middle Minoan Period I (2000 BC), which are offers, mainly votive statuettes of people or animals or parts of the body, made out of clay, with an extremely simplistic style. They are important because they offer information about the fashion of the era, the clothes as well as for the hairstyle of men and women and the worshiping positions.
Folklore Museum of Agios Nikolaos
The visitor of the Folklore Museum of Agios Nikolaos makes a complete picture concerning the life in the early past. The museum was established in 1978 and it is housed in the ground floor of the former Port Authority Building, one of the oldest buildings in the city next to the bridge of the Lake. The basic core of the collection of the Museum is formed by objects of any kind, donated by the Tour Club of Agios Nikolaos. Through the years and until nowadays the collection has been being constantly enriched by objects donated to the museum or bought by the administration of the company.
Spinalonga is a small island that surrounds, from the north, the bay of Elounda, in Mirambello province, in Lasithi Prefecture, Crete. Its ancient name had been Kalydon, but after it was occupied by the Venetians it was given the Latin name “spina lunga” that means long thorn. Its modern name derives from that paraphrase. It was perfectly fortified by the Venetians on a constructing and architectural basis as well as aesthetically concerning the whole landscape that still preserves its beauty.
Venetian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli claims that Spinalonga had not always been an island, but it was naturally joined with neighboring peninsula Kolokytha. He mentions that in 1526 the Venetians destroyed part of the peninsula and created the island. Due to its location it had already been fortified since the ancient times in order for the entrance from the port of the ancient city Olous to be prevented. The name of this city relates with the second version for the derivation of the name “Spinalonga” that, according to this very version, appeared during the 13th century by the Venetian conquerors, who, since they had no familiarization with the Greek language, paraphrased the place name “stin Olounda” in Spinalonde, at first (13th century) and in Spinalonga later on.
Olous is an ancient submerged city that is located in the place of modern Elounda. The area has been systematically inhabited since the Minoan years. Olous was one of the hundred most important cities in ancient Crete with a population bigger than 30.000 people. It was at the isthmus that joins the opposite peninsula (Nisi) with the mainland of Crete. Isthmus, in the period when the ancient city existed, used to be larger and at a higher level. It was separated in 1897-98 by the French who had Mirambello under their supervision, a little before the independence of Crete. The administrative system of Olous was the eunomia, a kind of democracy. Zeus Tallaios, Appollo and Britomartis, with a temple dedicated to her, were worshipped there. In their honor Talladites, games in which the participants were naked, and Britomartia used to take place. They also worshipped Asclepius who saved the city from an unknown epidemic disease that had troubled the locals.
From the narrations of various travelers of the ancient era we also find out that its inhabitants had a developed social and professional level. From the signs found we infer that they were involved in commerce, seafaring and mining of shells by which they made dyestuff; moreover they used to mine whetstones. Olous disappeared either because of a local subsidence or because of the strong earthquake in 780 BC. Many archaeological findings and signs have been found, most of which are in the Museum of Agios Nikolaos or in the Louvre.