Ierapetra (Greek: Ιεράπετρα, meaning Sacred Stone; ancient name: Ἱεράπυτνα Hierapytna) is a town and municipality in the southeast of the Greek island of Crete.
The town of Ierapetra (in the local dialect: Γεράπετρο Gerapetro) is located on the southeast coast of Crete, along the beach of Ierapetra Bay. It lies south of Agios Nikolaos and southwest of Sitia and is an important regional centre. With its 16,139 inhabitants (2011) it is the most populous town in the regional unit of Lasithi, and the fourth town of Crete. Ierapetra is nicknamed "bride of the Libyan Sea" because of its position as the only town on the south coast of Crete.Present day Ierapetra consists of two quite distinct parts, Kato Mera and Pano Mera. Kato Mera is the old town on the southwestern headland. It is characterized by a medieval street layout with narrow alleyways, cul-de-sacs and small houses, creating a village-like atmosphere. The former mosque and the "house of Napoleon" can be found in this neighbourhood, as can Aghios Georgios metropolitan church (built in 1856) in the town's center. It is considered one of the most interesting churches of Crete. The ceiling of the church has many "blind" domes. Those, as well as the central dome, are wooden (mainly cedar wood). Pano Mera is the much bigger new town, with wider streets and three and four storey houses. Pano Mera is still expanding towards the west, north and east.
Ierapetra's main shopping street is Koundouriotou. In the centre the town hall, the museum and two cinemas can be found. The local hospital lies in Pano Mera. To the west is the southern headland with the fortress, a port for fishing boats and ´Navmachia´ area, where sea fights among slaves for citizens´ pleasure were taking place, during Roman period. Further east is a short beach with bars and restaurants, followed by the quay for ferries to Chrissi. Further on lies the main boulevard with hotels, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. At its end a new promenade leads alongside Ierapetra Bay's long beach.
Chrissi, an island 7km long with a maximum width of 2 km, is located 8 nautical miles south of themost southern town in Europe, Ierapetra.
From the moment a visitor comes to Chrissi, he gets magnetized by the exotic natural landscape dominated by cedar, the golden sand and the light aquamarine water.The Natural images and the rhythms of nature, immediately give the visitor a newfound sense of liberation.
A walk in the woods, swimming in crystal clear water combined with the soft smell of cedar and fresh oxygen, give the visitor a deep relaxation feeling that become unforgettable. This is the reason why chrissi island welcomes more and more visitors from around the world every year.
The island has a small bar on the north side of the island, a small tavern on the south side, an Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, a lighthouse on the northwest side, and a house on the northeast side. There are two recognized permanent residents on the island until now.
The island has a large number of shells, mainly in the north, which is one of the distinguishing features of the island.
For six months a year - from mid-May until late October there are small boats, departing from the ports of Ierapetra and Makrigialos, to the island on a daily basis. After an hour's trip around the vessels approaching the southern side of the island, which is usually calmer. The exit is in the "Vougiou Eye" where there is a small pier, reception, and the tavern.
Chrissi is protected by Natura 2000 Networking Programme, as an "area of intense natural beauty", and also has been designated as a wildlife refuge. The island hosts the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe. The majority of trees have an average age of 200 years and average height of up to 7 metres, some of the trees are up to 300 years old and 10 metres tall. The density is approximately 28 trees per hectare. The contact with such a natural and unique environment, creates environmental awareness, but also requires respect for its natural functions. About 700m east of Chrissi is Mikronisi, a rocky islet which covers 11,7 hectares. The waters around the islands are shallow. Up to 1km to the north and 500m to the south the depth does not exceed 10m, while the 5m depth contour encompasses both the islands.
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