Ierapetra is a city that is built at the place of ancient Ierapytna.
It was supposed to have been established by Kyrvas, one of the Koryvantes, after which it was named (ancient name: Kyrva). Other names prior to its modern name are: Kamiros, Pytna and Ierapytna.
Ierapytna was at a strategic location on the smallest North-South axis in the island, but it had to face strong rivals: Viannos, on the west, and Praisos, on the east, that in 300 BC had been the most powerful city until 155 BC, when Ierapytna destroyed it in order to gain the total control of Crete.
Later on, it allied with the rest powerful cities of the island (Knosos, Gortyna, Lyktos, Arkades) as well as with the Macedonians, the Rhodians and Eumenes of Pergamon.
It cooperated with the Itanians in order to occupy Praisos and then, they continued a race to overrun eastern Crete together.
The Romans finished this conflict by occupying the whole island. During the period of the Roman occupation Ierapytna blossoms and it becomes one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the empire. Ierapetra was a city that truly resisted the siege of the Romans, managing to gain some time and surrender later than any other city of Crete.
The city of Ierapetra, after it surrendered, became an important port due to its proximity with Egypt, while until it was destroyed by the Arabs it managed to keep its strength even up to the early Byzantine years.