The most important monument of the past that is still dominant in modern Siteia is the fortress of the castle that is known as Kazarma, from Casa di Arma. The locals mistakenly believe that this is the castle of the medieval city; however in the medieval ages the term castle meant every city surrounded by walls inside which were all public buildings and many private ones, mostly of nobles and lieges. So, Kazarma was the military camp of the guard or the administration building that means one of the buildings of Medieval Siteia that was surrounded by walls. According to maps of the Venetian period, to some small parts near the Roman fish cisterns and according to the testaments of owners of coastal land plots the wall of the city used to extend from its south part to the seaside and from the Roman fish cisterns, near the modern Customhouse, to the place of the modern Zorbas Hall and then it turned to the north, from the corner of Venizelou and Kazantzaki Streets, continuing upwards to Kazarma where it joined its eastern fly.
Trypitos is the name of a small peninsula that is 3 km away from the city of Siteia. Most probably its name derives from a simple oblong trench on its rocky southeast side that is 30 meters long, 5, 50 meters wide and 5 meters high. The ground has an incline towards the sea. The abovementioned trench is artificial and a study that was carried out by K. Diavaras showed that it was an ancient “neosoikos”.
What the ancient people “neosoikos” was a natural or artificial shed where they used to elevate ships either to protect them from the weather conditions or to repair them mostly during the winter months; it was something similar to a shipyard. The “neosoikos” of Siteia is protected by the north and northeast winds that are more common in the south coast of Crete. The ships that were brought there were of medium size.
The wooden equipment of the “neosoikos” for elevating and launching the ships has been destroyed of course. It is the only “neosoikos” that has been officially registered in Crete and its researcher estimates that it dates back to the Hellenistic years, something that was recently confirmed after the beginning of systematic excavations by the writer of this book in the area.
There is a Hellenistic city that extends to the whole peninsula and the archaeological excavations have revealed parts of its settlements as well as its strong defensive wall, on the south part, that protects the “neosoikos”. A great number of pots, coins, jewels and a leaden counterweight have been discovered. The excavations continue hoping that finally ancient Siteia and most probably Sitaia as mentioned in the sign of Praisos, has been found.
The Tower of Agios Antonios
It is on the northeast of Myrsini village, and together with the adjacent temple of Saint Antonios and the surrounding buildings, it used to form the settlement of Agios Antonios during the period of the Venetian and the Turkish occupation. As far as the tower is concerned the following information is mentioned in the book of Nikos Th. Garyfallakis: Myrsini, History- Folklore:
“After Crete was occupied by the Venetians the area was given to lieges who according to the tradition, […], built a tower with a ground floor, a warehouse and two more floors. This tower that is still called “The Tower of Kornaros” by many people of Myrsini, had been used as a castle by the Venetians first and then by the Turks.”
Etia- The Venetian Mansion
The Venetian Mansion in Etia is considered to be one of the most typical examples of the Venetian architecture in Crete. This three- storeyed building that was probably built at the end of the 15th century belonged to the De Mezzo Venetian family and is nowadays known as “Seragio- Serai”. During the Turkish occupation period some notables lived there, among whom Memetakas that was known for his atrocities against the Christians.
In 1828 and during a revolt of the Christians against the Turks the third floor was destroyed and the same thing happened with the second floor as well. Nowadays, only the ground floor is preserved in a good condition and the archaeological service has declared the building a preservable monument and began renovation works.
Kapsa Monastery is at the highest point of Pervolakia Gorge, in an imposing landscape with a view of the Libyan Sea.
The monastery is a dependency of Toplou Monastery and it is 9 km away from the settlement of Makrys Gialos.
In the 17th century the name “Toplou” replaced the official name of the monastery that was “Panagia Akrotiriani” as it is shown by official documents and by a stamp of the 15th or the 16th century.
It was first mentioned as Toplou Monastery in a Turkish document as of 1673. Most researchers agree that this name derives from the Turkish word Top= cannon, because in the Venetian occupation period it had a small cannon in order to be protected by the attacks of the pirates and at the same time warn the surrounding villages about the danger.
Panagia Faneromeni Monastery
Panagia Faneromeni of Trachilas belongs to Skopi and it was founded in the 15th century by Joannicius and then, it was renovated and extended in the 17th century by Gennadius. It was one of the most important and most known monasteries in Crete. It was probably destroyed in 1538 by Barbarossa and definitely in 1829 by the Turks. In 1870 it became part of Toplou Monastery. There are beautiful ancient icons and inscribed signs among which there is one in elegiac couplets and another one of Pantogalos Brothers. Unfortunately, the most recent interventions in the Monastery and appearance of the surrounding cement buildings have changed the image of the monument and careful restoration is absolutely necessary.
The Monastery is in an idyllic landscape. On its east, from Platani location starts the beautiful gorge of Agioi Pantes that has recently been highlighted. It is a wonderful trip for nature lovers.
The Archaeological Museum is at the beginning of the road that joins Siteia with Ierapetra, through Piskokefalo. The building is all around a small quadrangle and the Exhibition was inaugurated in 1984 by Melina Mercouri.
It includes exhibits from all the areas of Siteia Province and covers a period of over 4000 years (3.500 B.C.-500 A.C.).
The Exhibition hasn’t been given its final form yet, but the development of its units is shaped as there are totally five units, four out of which have an entrance that is set by separative boards with dates, explanatory texts, photographic and designing material and a relief map where the most important archaeological locations of every period are indicatively shown.
After the long-lasting efforts and the arousal of the members of the Cultural Association “Vitsentzos Kornaros” in combination with the assistance and the cooperation of the Municipality a remarkable folklore museum with interesting exhibits has been organized and opened. The exhibits date back to the previous century and the beginning of the present; beautiful embroideries, wefts of exceptional art, woodcuts, local clothes, houseware and icons represent the old lifestyle of the people of Siteia. There is also a folklore museum in Chamaizi, with a representation of a Cretan house of the beginning of this century, a winepress, an old olive press and a forge.
The Gorge of Kato Zakros
The Gorge of Kato Zakros is also known as the gorge of the dead. Here, in the crevasses and the holes of the rocks the Minoans used to bury their dead.
It is the most famous and most visited gorge in eastern Crete. A wonderful trip starts on the southeast of Ano Zakros, passes through the gorge and ends next to the Minoan palace in the bay of Kato Zakros. It is accessible almost during the whole year, it is 2,5 km long and the altitude difference between the entrance and the exit is almost equal to 100 meters. It forms part of the E4 European path and it can be traversed in one hour approximately.
It is one of the most beautiful and smallest gorges in eastern Crete with a set route that follows the bed of the small river that flows almost during the whole year and creates a beautiful waterfall.
It starts outside the village Exo Mouliana and ends at the homonymous beach of Richti, east of Kalavro village. The total length of the route is almost 3, 0 km and the altitude difference between the entrance and the exit is almost equal to 350 meters.
Koufonisi is on the southeast of Xerokampos and its shape looks as if it were painting the background of the sea. Here, the excavations have revealed ruins from Minoan and Roman settlements. It seems that the island had been densely populated from the ancient years to the late Roman years. This can be proved by the big Greco-roman theater with the 1000 seats that was excavated. According to the findings the island was a center of the collection and treatment of laver that existed in the seas of the area.
West of Mochlos, in an uninhabited islet there are important findings of the Early Minoan period that reveal the existence of an important nautical center. The excavations that took place in Pseira Island revealed an amphitheatrically built settlement. The findings of Pseira, earthenware and pots, are among the best of the Minoan period and they are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Heraklion.
The boats head to the opposite fish places that surround Dioynsades or Gianysades as locals call them, islets in order to go fishing. It is worth having a boat trip to these islets. It is here where the known raptor hawk named Falco eleonorae nests in the steep coasts. The boats look as if they were dancing spots of light in the dark sea waters and they are going to spend the night here together with the dolphins.