Where to go / What to see..
The visitor will never get bored in our place. The nature endowed this area with a rare wild beauty, bare rocks and mountains full of herbs and spices. With virgin beaches and golden sand, with canyons and mystic caves, with archaeological sites marked by history and glory, with the lost civilizations that passed the myth and made the history
Vai, is situated in the northeastern part of Crete about 7 kilometers from Palaikastro. It is the largest (250 hectares) oasis of palm trees in Europe, with incomparably beautiful lush greenery, thousands of palms, ending up to a pristine golden beach. Vai has been declared both as an aesthetic palm forest and a unique biosphere with rare flora and fauna. The endemic variety of Phoenix of Theophrasti palm grows naturally. The history of the palm forest has been lost through the centuries, though there are many myths and speculations of its beginnings. The Phoenix Palm was held as a holy symbol to the Minoen Civilization a.1450BC.The age old Phoenix Palm Trees along the beach, together with the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the close proximity of the small island, provide an exotic picture of incomparable beauty, that attracts thousands of people from all over the world to enjoy.
Itanos had been one of the most important coastal cities of eastern Crete from the Minoan years until the first Christian era. Nowadays it is known under the name of Erimopolis. Its citizens were dominating throughout the coast of Sitia, from the Samonion cape (today cape Sidero (iron)) to the Erythreon cape (what is today called Goudoura) and the island of Lefki (Koufonisi).
Itanos is also mentioned by Herodotus. When Pythia saw the oracle and told the Thyraeans to make a settlement in Libya, the latter sent emissaries to Crete in order to find guides who would lead them to Libya. The emissaries on their arrival to Itanos met with a laver fisherman who recounted to them how he had once drifted away pushed by the wind to the land of Libya. In turn they convinced him to guide them there where they ended up funding the colony of Cyrene in 630 B.C.
Toplou is a famous monastery in the eastern part of Crete, located 10km east of Sitia and 6 km north of Palaikastro. The original name of the monastery is “Lady Akrotiriani” as we can read in official documents and seals of the 15th or 16th century. A Turkish document of 1673 first mentioned it as “Toplou”. Concerning the origin of its name, many versions have been said with more likely one that it comes from the Turkish word “Topkapi” (= cannon) because of a small cannon that was there from the Venetian period and which was not only to protect the monastery of pirates but also to advise the surrounding villages of any incoming danger. However, the most plausible version among all is that its name comes from the failure of the word “plou(sio)”, which means rich in Greek, as the monastery had, and still has today, huge immovable property (land, vineyards, olive groves). Characteristic is the fact that even today, when referring to the monastery, they call it with the name “The Great Monastery”.
Archaeological Site Rousso Lako
At "Hiona" beach, about 2km away from the village has been discovered an important Minoan city and rare finds with most importand a gold and ivory statuette 50cm high, that is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.The flourishing civilisation was probably been destroyed by the eruption of Santorini volcano. In the same area the excavations carried out revealed the existence of the sacred Temple of Zeus, shining all over the known world.
Folkore Museum of Palaikastro
The Folklore Museum of Palaikastro is lodge in a rebuilt traditional Cretan house. It is exhibited tools and objects characteristic of local agrarian life. For someone who desires to meet a population and live the experience of its culture, the present is not enough. The knowledge of yesterday s life plays a determinant role. That΄s the result of our creation of the traditional Cretan house that is part of our Cultural Museum.The founding of musum began in 1987 from the Cultural Unions of Palekatro ΄Elia and Itanos΄ with the support of the Monastery of Toplou and the local government. In 1989 the crumbling traditional Cretan house was bought and restoration was begun immediately. With the help from the Development Union of Sitia, the restoration was completed and objects were collected from around the region. The museum exhibits common items and tools that would have been in use by the generations of people from the times of the Turkish Occupation up until 1960.Today΄s visitors can get a complete picture of an authentic Cretan house, with it΄s traditional furniture and everyday household items. As well as, rare kinds of Cretan popular art. More..
The Gorge of Hohlakies
A wild beauty canyon situated 5km away from Palaikastro with about 2,5-3 km length. This path is a special experience which will fill with enthusiasm the nature lovers. After a walk of about 1.5 hours the gorge winds up at a virgin and unspoiled beach ideal for swimming, fishing and resting.
At a distance of 5 kilometers away from K.Zakros is the greatest and most beautiful cave Crete can offer. At the end of the cave there is a small lake, under the level of the sea. You can tour there on foot or by boat.
Zakros - Gorge
20 kilometers away from Palaikastro on a road passing through the small villages at the sides of the mountain is Zakros. Zakros is a lush village with fresh water springs and tall sycamore trees. There is the entrance of one of the most beautiful canyons of all Crete with very high, straight walls with many caves. It is also called "The Canyon of the Deads" because of the caves where the Minoans used to bury their dead. It is about 3 hours walk between the natural configuration of rocks and multi colored scenery.You will meet a large variety of flora and fauna along the way, that some of them are endemic to this area. You will see wild goats browsing the sides of the canyon, as well as rare seen birds, eagles and hawks flying proudly above the canyon.
Kato Zakros - Minoan Palace
At the end of the path is the picturesque beach Kato Zakros, one of the most quiet and scenerous spots in Crete.This was the place where Minoans chose to build one of the most importand Palaces of Crete because of the communication with Middle East and Egypt. The fish taverns are only a few meters from the beach.
It is the most beautiful of the highland villages of the Itanos municipality, that keeps unchanged its picture and its face throughout the years. It is about 15 kilometres away from Palaikastro. Today the village has few residents, where the winter they abandon and reside in the settlement Lagada dealing with the harvest of olive. In the area are very important archaeological discoveries. Also near Peistera there is the homonymous cave, one of the largest and most important caves of Crete.