History

 
A trip to Sitia is a trip at the roots of the European civilization.

The Minoan civilization, as it is commonly accepted, is the first and most ancient great civilization in Europe, and here, in Eastern Crete, in Zakros and Palekastro, in Mohlos and Psyra, the first centers and ports of this great civilization developed. This is the place referred in the charming ancient myths. Zeus, the king of the Gods, who according to myth transformed into a white bull, seduced and abducted the beautiful daughter of the king of Phoenix, Europe, and carried her on his back to bring her in Crete, somewhere here, in a beautiful beach down in Palekastro and Vai. They stayed there to rest, and then they continued their route to Diktaio Antro and Gortyna.

This beautiful myth entails some historical implications on the relationship of Crete with the East, explaining why here, in Eastern Crete which is close to Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, ancient Phoenix and Egypt the first signs of European civilization were born. It is in this place, in the Minoan town of Palekastro, where the famous shrine of Diktaios Zeus was located and where his hymn was found written on a rock, which was chanted by young naked shield-bearers, dancing around his altar, imitating the Kourites who protected the young god at his birth with their weapons and their dances. This is the first hymn to peace and peaceful life. The young men prayed to Zeus to come to earth along with the gods of vegetation to bring happiness to humans, peace and order to the world, justice and protection for the young, fertility on the earth and its fruits, winds to the ships, ect.

Furthermore, the shrine of Diktaios Zeus is connected with one of the most ancient environmental provisions in the world: the prohibition of cutting trees from the forests that belonged to the shrine of Zeus, under the threat of harsh punishment! Here, at the cape Cavo-Sidero, the ancient Samonion, the Argonauts disembarked and built the shrine of Samonia Athena and the god Dionysos created the islands "Dionysiades", named after him. It seems that nowehere else in this world nature and myth were combined as well as in Crete. And it is remarkable how these traditions of worship and the rituals still survive to our days in different forms and contexts at the villages of Sitia.


Its geographical position -the nearest station of the sea route to North Africa and the East- and historical reasons contributed to the flourishment and the creation of this amazing archeological and historical wealth.

Sitia was "the gate of the East" of the Minoan world and here are the first and last sites of the Minoan civilization. The same is true for the literary tradition of this place:

  • Myson the Sitian, one of the seven wise men of antiquity, as reported by Stefanos the Byzantine.
  • Vitsentzos Kornaros, "the Great of the Greek nation and the immortal poet", according to Kostis Palamas.
  • Andreas Kornaros, the great literary scholar, the founder of the Stravaganti academy in Megalo Kastro (Heraklion) and the writer of the first history book of Crete.
  • The pantogalloi brothers, great men of the church and literature.
  • Pertzivalis and Kalyvas, distinguished scholars and teachers of the renaissance.
  • The Salamon family, a member of which was our great National poet, Dionysios Solomos.

These are only some examples of the respectable personalities of literature and art. At the same time, the traditional folk culture is one of the richest and most vivid today, expressed by the folk music and popular poetry, which not only continues to survive but also continues to flourish and be reproduced creatively as Melina Merkouri noted and said: "until today, Sitia is the home of pleasure, happiness, and creativity. A place where life finds its meaning. A place that proudly continues a great tradition of offering, in literature, sciences and art".

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