Zeus the king of gods, according to the myth in the form of a shining bull abducted Europa the beautiful daughter of the Phoenician King put her on his back, and carried her by the sea to Crete and let her on the seashore somewhere near Palekastro and Vai to rest and then they continued their trip to the Sanctuary of Dictean Zeus and Gortyna.
The myth contains of course historical evidence concerning the relationship of Crete to the East and explains why the first European Civilization started here at the Eastern Crete which is the nearest spot to Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and ancient Phoenicia.
Moreover in Palekastro there was the grand temple of Dictean Kritagenis Zeus and this is where his hymn was found carved on a plate. Every year naked, young shield-bearers sang this hymn dancing around his altar imitating the Curettes who were present at his birth. In the reality this is the first hymn to Peace and Peaceful Life.
The young men were asking Zeus to come to earth together with the Curettes and bring happiness to people, peace to the world, justice and solicitude to the young, fertility to the earth, fair winds to ships and so on. The temple of Dictean Zeus is connected with one of the earliest ecological statutes in the world: The felling of trees which belonged to the Dictean Zeus temple was strictly forbidden with the threat of severe penalties! Here at the cape of Cavo Sidero also Samonio, in the antique existed the temple of the Samonio Athina and here god Dionysus did something unprecedented and created small islands named after him, the "Dionisades".
Nowhere else in the world the Nature and the Myth match so well together. It is remarkable that the habits and rituals of worship, the myths and the legends survive even today in some villages of Sitia area.
Those who explore the area will find that eastern Crete has remained the most unspoiled area of Crete, the extreme eastern coast being the most wild and beautiful on the island. The town was rebuilt amphitheatrically in the corner of the bay of Sitia in 1870; having been previously destroyed by earthquakes and pirates. There are 45 villages to discover in the area of Sitia, a region renowned for its hospitality.
Sitia is a lively town with approximately 11.000 inhabitants. The district is famous for its considerable olive oil production and for the excellent quality of its olive oil and wines. There are numerous local festivals in traditional Cretan style held in villages throughout the summer, which are well-worth attending, as well as cultural events in the town.
Sitia is a town that accepts the past and is longing for the modern. There you can sense the hidden magic and peacefulness mixed with life and vividness
Those who choose to visit Sitia should not miss doing some things.
Do not forget to visit the many exhibits of the Folklore Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Sitia one of the most important provincial museums in Greece. There are exhibits of the whole Sitia area from a time of 4000 years, from the Neolithic Era (3500 B.C.) to the Byzantine period (500 A.D.). These exhibits of great value i.e. the unique statuette of the Minoan time made of gold and ivory found in Palekastro and many others.
- Do not forget to admire the view over Sitia Bay from the Venetian castle of Kazarma especially in the summer nights. There is also a specially fit out place for artistic events as part of "Kornarion", the festival - tribute to the great poet of the masterpiece "Erotokritos", Vintsenzos Kornaros, who comes from the Sitia area. He refers to this area at the end of his poem where he describes his place of origin.
- Go shopping and purchase souvenirs and artefacts.
- Taste the fresh fruit at the open market, all products of the Sitian land.
- Enjoy the delicious local pastry as the well known "kaltsounia" and "xerotigana"
- Feel the sea breeze while enjoying the meal at the picturesque taverns at the port.
- Discover the traditional food in a restaurant either on the terrace of an old estate or in a neighborhood of the town.
- Discover your own Sitia area, choose your own routes and follow the roads that will excite you. Get to know the simplicity and kindness of the people in the town at the south-eastern end of Europe.
The whole district abounds in archaeological and historical interest from the Μinoan period onwards. Within easy reach of Sitia, there are many places to be visited, such as the TOPLOU Monastery, the fourth in size Minoan Palace of Kato Zakros, and other important archaeological sites at Palekastro, Itanos, Pressos and many more. There are two fine museums in Sitia, archaeological and folklore, with many fascinating exhibits.
For the walker, the hills are covered with aromatic plants and hundreds of beautiful flowers, especially in the springtime.
East Crete is ideal for those who enjoy walking, be it a short walk or a good hike! There are some routes in and around Sitia and, in the Palekastro area, 5 routes of varying lengths and difficulty have been specifically mapped out. One of the walks' is through the gorge of Kato Zakros, at the end of which, there is a section marked out for rock climbing.
Walking along sections of the Ε4 European mountaineering path (which runs along the whole of Crete starts from Kato Zakros), you will discover some of the most beautiful, wild terrain and meet equally memorable people. Flower lovers will be amazed by the beautiful wild flowers and herbs which cover the countryside during April and May. Divers will also find the area to be of great interest.