|yios Nikolaos is the capital of the Prefecture of Lasithi and according to the 1981 census, has a population of 8,130. Protected by mountains, the town stands on a little promontory on the western side of the peaceful Bay of Mirabello. Thanks to its warm climate and its calm sea it has developed into a leading resort centre, with large hotels, and it has expanded quite considerably.|
o other town in Crete can rival the tourist trade of Ayios Nikolaos. During the summer months, the harbour area, with its numerous restaurants, cafes and patisseries, hums with life and the atmosphere is cosmopolitan and brilliant.
Despite this, the town has managed to retain much of the picturesqueness of the past, particularly in the centre.
|alking around the centre of town one can still find houses built in traditional architectural style, narrow alleyways and cobbled steps.
An attraction is the little round lake by the harbour known as Voulismeni or Vromolimni, where according to the myths the goddess Athena came to wash.
In the 13th century, the Bay of Mirabello took its name from the fortress erected there by the Genoese.
|Not a trace has remained of the castle, which stood on a rise to the west of the harbour. The town was given its current name in the 16th century, by the Venetians; the little chapel of St Nicholas from which the name comes can still be seen today, on the promontory opposite the Minos Palace hotel.|
he town began to develop after 1870, when many refugees from Sfakia settled there to escape the bloody fighting which for decades had been the order of the day in their hometown. The Archaeological Museum of Ayios Nikolaos was founded in 1970 and is housed in a modern building. Its collection consists of recent findings from eastern Crete. In the antechamber there is a Minoan pottery from a shipwreck in Mirabello. Gallery I has statuettes and pottery dating from 3000 - 2300 BC. The finds from a child's tomb are also on show.
The town also has the Koundoureios Municipal Library, with a collection of 10,000 volumes.
To the north of the harbour of Ayios Nikolaos are beaches of pebbles and rocks. Sandy beaches can be found on the northern edge of the town, at the cove of Ammoudi, at Havania and at Ammoudara.
To the south of the town, at Istros, is the beautiful Bay of Voulisma with its blue-green waters and yellow sandy beach.
Photos and text taken from "Crete - today and yesterday"
and "Crete - A tour of all the towns and villages"
The south end of Greece
The Lasithi plateau