Agios Nikolaos, is the capital of the Lassithi prefecture of Crete. It is built around a picturesque lake at the north-western side of the Mirabello bay, the biggest bay in Crete. The beauty here is endless with the seasons succeeding one another. The climate is unique: Dry, without humidity. The area is inhabited since antiquity.
Agios Nikolaos Today…
Major administrative, cultural and communications center, Aghios Nikolaos is one of the most developed tourist areas, not only in Crete but in Greece in general. Having a valuable 30 year experience of organized tourism, its infrastructure matches that of any other European resort, for ideal and interesting vacation together with the traditional Cretan hospitality and the excellent climate. Thanks to the beautiful coasts, the great sights and the cosmopolitan life, this live city hosts every year thousands of visitors without losing one bit of its tranquillity and traditional hospitality. The modern city of Aghios Nikolaos became indernationally well-known during the 60’s, “discovered” by famous cinema directors (Jules Dassin, Walt Disney etc.), BBC producers and many others. It was then, that the rapid tourist development of the area started. Today, Aghios Nikolaos is an international, cosmopolitan tourist resort, able to accommodate, effectively and efficiently, thousands of visitors each year.
A walk around the shopping area of Aghios Nikolaos is always a pleasure. You can find everything! There are many tourist shops, full of excellent articles of traditional Cretan art, minoan copies and copies from the Popular Art museum, etc. One can also visit fine art galleries and woven handicrafts, jewellery shops, international bookstores, kiosks with greek and foreign press, cafeterias as well as traditional coffee shops, tavernas and restaurants with an inexhaustible assortment of snacks and specialities of greek and Cretan cooking, accompanied with all sorts of wines or the local strong “raki”. At night, there are countless chances for fun at the numerous night clubs and discos, or at selected clubs with traditional Cretan dances, songs and mandinades or the latest hits of the greek and international charts.
Aghios Nikolaos is the ideal place for rest and fun, all year round and for all ages, combining the traditional hospitality with the authenticity of the genuine Cretan way of life. The visitor will feel secure and, if necessary, will enjoy a full range of medical assistance. At the Municipal play grounds, located at various points of the city, the children can enjoy themselves playing for hours.
The Lake is obviously the most beautiful ornament of the city of Agios Nikolaos! it is linked to the sea by a narrow canal, which greatly adds to the beauty of the lake, while its natural surroundings (red rocks within green plants) turn it into a site of great satisfaction to the foreign visitors, as they can enjoy the view, while sitting comfortably at any of the coffee shops, next to the multicoloured fishing boats. According to the legend, Athena and Artemis Vritomartis were washing their hair at the deep blue waters of the lake. The natives, not able to see the bottom, called the lake bottomless or “sunk”, meaning that it has been created by a landslide, until the Christian commissioner Costas Adossidis Passas connected the lake to the sea in 1867 and its stagnant waters became clear. The English naval traveller Spratt, who was mapping the island, found its depth being 210 feet (64 meters) and said that this might be the opening of an underground river.
The small, especially well-attended port of Aghios Nikolaos, has its own charm, as it is surrounded by picturesque tile-roofed houses and it is illuminated in the evenings by the lights of the shops and those of the kaikis and the boats moored at the big dock. This is the starting point of the kaikis doing day-trips to Elounda, Spinalonga and the picturesque Merabello bay. There is a scheduled ferry-boat from Piraeus to Aghios Nikolaos 5 times a week while the ferry – boat to Sitia, Karpathos and Rhodos, stops at Aghios Nikolaos twice a week.
At the extension of the coast road within a naturally “11gifted” landscape, a calm ancient anchorage still exists.
At the heart of the city, one of the best marinas in the Aegean sea has been inaugurated in 1994.
The Big and the Small Island…
Two lovely islands, at the entrance of the port, complement the beautiful landscape. The little one plays host to the city lighthouse, while the big island’s main attractions are the Aghion Pandon (all Saints) chapel and the famous kri-kri wild goats, a protected species, for which the island serves as refuge.
The Small Church of Saint Nikolas…
The city of Aghios Nikolaos was named after the charming Byzantine chapel, built on the spot called “Nissi” during the 7th sentury A.D. The chapel has interesting old frescoes and rewards the visitor with a breathtaking view of the city bay.
Coordinates: 35°11′N 25°43′E
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (min-max): 0 – 10 m (0 – 33 ft)
Area: 317.834 km² (123 sq mi)
Density: 61 /km² (159 /sq mi)