Ierapetra is one of the most important municipalities of the Lasithi prefecture and at the same time the southernmost town in Europe, with a permanent population of about 25000 people. It is a coastal town, situated in the bay of the same name, where a particularly high tourist activity is observed during the summer.
The town of Ierapetra is known since the Minoan times, however the period of its great flourish was during the classic antiquity when it was classified among the most developed town of the whole island of Crete. Later on, however, during the 3rd century B.C. it became infamous as it was transformed into a nesting ground for pirates. This fact soon led to its total destruction from the Romans in 67 B.C. Soon after that it was rebuilt, without however being able to reach its past levels of flourishing.
In 824 A.D. the town received yet another blow, when the Arabs invaded it and destroyed it. Once again the town was rebuilt only to serve as a pirate base soon after. Some signs of an upturn were obvious during the Venetian era, from the 13th to the 17th century and the area started flourishing again. During this period, the fortress of Kale was built in order to secure the port. In 1798, Napoleon, while traveling to Egypt stops in Ierapetra and is accommodated by a local family, whose residence is maintained until this day.
Today Ierapetra consists of two separate parts, Kato Mera and Pano Mera. Kato Mera is the old part of the town in the southwestern and is characterized by its medieval alleys and the small houses that give the impression of being in a village. Here you will have the chance to visit the “house of Napoleon” as well as a mosque dating back to the Ottoman period, located in the same neighbourhood.
Also worth visiting is the metropolitan church of Agios Georgios, built in 1856 and located in the centre of the town. It is considered one of the most impressive churches in Crete, not so much due to its size, as due to its impressive architecture and its wooden dome.
In Ierapetra you will discover several shops (most of them on Koundouriotou Street), the archaeological museum, cinemas, a hospital, bars and restaurants, hotels and rooms to let and generally all kinds of tourist facilities.