Infobox Greek Dimos
name = Ierapetra
name_local = Ιεράπετρα

caption_skyline = View over the main boulevard


lat_deg = 35
lat_min = 0
lon_deg = 25
lon_min = 44
elevation_min = 0
elevation_max = 18
periph = Crete
prefec = Lasithi
districts =
mayor = Emmanouil Mastorakis
party =
since =
population_as_of = 2001
population = 23707
area = 394.774
population_metro =
area_metro =
postal_code = 72x xx
area_code = 284x0
licence = AN
website = []

Ierapetra ( _el. Ιεράπετρα, meaning Holy Stone, [] ancient name "Hierapytna" [] ) is a municipality and a town in the east of the Greek island of Crete, in the prefecture of Lasithi. The municipality has an area of 394.774 square kilometres and a population of 23,707 (2001). The municipality consists of the town of Ierapetra, several villages and hamlets and the island of Chrissi.


The town of Ierapetra (in the local dialect 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 15,400 inhabitants (2001) it is the most populous town in the prefecture of Lasithi, and the fourth town of Crete. Ierapetra is popularly known as the southernmost town of Europe, nicknamed "bride of the Libyan Sea" because of its position as only town on the south coast of Crete.


Ierapetra has had a place in the history of Crete since the Minoan period. The Greek and later Roman town of "Hierapytna" was on the same site as present day Ierapetra. In the Classical Age Ierapytna became the strongest town of eastern Crete and as a Dorian city in continual rivalry with the last Minoan city in the island the Praisos. Later, in the 3rd century BC, Hierapytna was notorious for its tendency to piracy and took part in the Cretan War along with other Cretan cities in the side of Philip V of Macedon against Knossos and Rhodes.Its importance as independent state ended when it was conquered by the Romans in 67 BC (the last free city in Crete) and was surpassed by the city of Gortyn. The Roman conquest of Ierapetra occurred about the same time as that of Knossos, Cydonia and Lato. [ [ C. Michael Hogan, "Lato Fieldnotes", The Modern Antiquarian, Jan. 10, 2008] ] Today remains of the Roman harbor can still be seen in the shallow bay. In AD 824 it was destroyed by Arab invaders, only to be rebuilt as a base for pirates again.

Venetian Era

In the Venetian Age, from the 13th to the 17th centuries, Ierapetra - now known by its present name - became prosperous again. The Fortress of Kales, built in 1626 to protect the harbor, is a remnant of this period, although local myth says it was built by the Genoese pirate Pescatore in 1212. In July 1798 Ierapetra made a small step into world history: Napoleon stayed with a local family during his voyage to Egypt. The house where he stayed can still be seen. In the Ottoman period a mosque was built in the town. Finds from Ierapetra's past can be found in the local Museum of Antiquities, formerly a school for Turkish children. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a well preserved statue of Persephone.

Modern Era

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.

The local government has planned the development of a new international port. This plan is being opposed by some citizens who think it will destroy the local environment and scenery. They are supported by, the local environmental tribune.


The area's main economic activities are agriculture in the winter and tourism in the summer. The agricultural production can be divided into two main parts. Whereas olive oil has been produced all over the municipality at least since Minoan times, for the last thirty years large quantities of fruit and vegetables have also been exported. These are grown in plastic greenhouses, which spread over an area of 13,000,000 square meters between the town of Ierapetra and Nea Myrtos. They were introduced by the Dutchman Paul Kuypers. Mainly because of the greenhouse production the inhabitants of Ierapetra are on average the richest on Crete.citation


*Bramiana Dam, an artificial dam and lake. The lake was made to supply the local greenhouses with water in the dry summer. The lake area is the biggest wetland on Crete, and has become a nature reserve known for its birdlife.
*Mount Dikti
*Mount Thryptis
*Selakano Forest
*Sarakina Gorge
*Ha Gorge
*Avgo Gorge
*Ano Simi


Chrissi (Golden) or Gaidhouronisi (Donkey Island) is an uninhabited island some twelve kilometers off the coast of the town of Ierapetra. It is five kilometers long and on average one kilometer wide. The island's average height above sea level is ten meters; Kefala, the highest point of the island, is 31 meters above sea level. The island is renowned for its white beaches, sand dunes and forest of pines and junipers. The western tip of the island has some remains of past settlement: a few Minoan ruins and a 13th century chapel dedicated to Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas). It was inhabited into Byzantine times. The main sources of wealth were fishing, salt export, and the export of "porphyra" (Tyrian purple), a scarlet dye made from shells. After the Byzantine period the island was abandoned, although later it was used as a hideout.

Nowadays the island is protected as an "area of intense natural beauty". Especially in summer, the island attracts many tourists. As camping is forbidden on the island, only day trips are possible. Ferries leave the quay at Ierapetra daily at 10 A.M. and return at 5 P.M. Visitors are not allowed to roam freely over the island, but only on designated paths and some beaches close to the eastern tip of the island. There is a small tavern at the ferry landing. 700 meters to the east of Chrissi lies the rocky islet of Mikronisi (Small Island).

Minoan sites

*Gournia, Minoan city on Mirambelo (Mirabello) Gulf.
*Pyrgos, between Myrtos and Nea Myrtos.
*Vasiliki, near the village of the same name.

Municipal Divisions

Aghia Fotia, Agios Ioannis, Anatoli, Amoudares, Ano Simi, Christos, Drakalevri, Episkopi, Ferma, Gdochia, Gra Lighia, Kaimenos, Kalamafka, Kalogeri, Kamara, Kato Horio, Kavousi, Kentri, Koutsounari, Males, Mathokotsana, Melises, Meseleri, Monastiraki, Minos, Mythi, Mournies, Myrtos, Nea Anatoli, Nea Myrtos, Pachia Ammos, Panaghia, Pano Horio, Psathi, Riza, Selakano, Stavros, Stomio, Sykia, Thrypti, Vainia, Vasiliki, Vatos, Xerambela, Xerokambos.

The following settlements belong to Makrys Gialos municipality. However, they are considered part of Ierapetra area, as they always had strong economical, commercial and educational connections with Ierapetra town: Achlia, Adrianos, Aghios Panteleimon, Galini, Kalyvitis, Mavros Kolimbos, Schinokapsala, Orino.

Ierapetra in popular culture

*In the 1964 movie "Zorba the Greek" the famous scene in which Anthony Quinn dances the Sirtaki on the beach was shot on Ierapetra Beach.
*In the 1994 movie, 'Legends of the Fall', Tristan Ludlow (Brad Pitt) returning from a long journey, gifts a ring from Ierapetra to his future wife, Isabelle 2.
*In two of his books R. Graves refers the name of Ierapetra. In "King Jesus" and in the "Hercules,my shipmate"
*Luis Sepulveda also mention the Ierapetra in the introduction of his book "Mundo del fin del mundo" (The World at the End of the World)


External links

* [ Municipal website] el icon
* [ map of Chrissi]
* [ Ecocrete against new harbor] el icon

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