Itanos Ancient Beaches

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About 3km north of Vai is the ancient Minoan site of Itanos, it may appear fairly desolate today, but this was an important site.

  • Self-Guided
  • Full Day
  • History & Culture
  • Beaches

A lot of people combine their visit to Palm Beach of Vai to visit this significant site as well.

A short drive north of Palm Beach Vai (2 km) you find the relatively isolated bays and beaches of Itanos.

In fact, there are 3 beaches here: the first is the one at the end of the road, the second is reached walking to the north (the beach on the photo) and the third is also reached walking south behind the small fortress. The third one is also suitable to spend time under the shade of the palm-trees.

As an extra bonus, there is a Minoan city at the entrance of the main beach. Itanos was one of the most influential places in the east of Crete. It flourished from the early Minoan to early Byzantian times. There are traces of a basilic and of Greek walls, and a lot of fallen apart traces on the hill.  

Itanos was particularly powerful during the Greek era and it was flourishing by the seventh century B.C. Itanos was continuously at war with its neighbors, originally with Praisos, and when Ierapytna / Ierapetra destroyed Praisos, Itanos was at war with Ierapytna Ierapetra.

An important reason for the conflict was a dispute over the control of the Temple of Zeus in Palaikastro / Palekastro. Only after Praises was defeated and some sort of cooperation with Ierapetra was established Itanos started to flourish. This was a few centuries BC.

The port of Itanos was situated in a very strategic place and the town started to trade with Egypt and the surrounding towns.

In the 8th century AD, Itanos was destroyed in an earthquake but the inhabitants stayed and rebuilt the town. Only in the 15th century after attacks by pirates the town was finally destroyed and deserted. Because the west of Crete slowly elevates upwards and the east of the island is slowly sinking (6 to 9 meters in the last 2000 years, mainly caused by earthquakes, see also: Gramvousa) parts of the harbor of Itanos have now sunk into the sea.

Thus, a unique experience is to snorkel above the ruins.

The site of Itanos covers an area of more than 16,000 square meters, and most of it is still not excavated.  

In the area, there are more quiet places to be found.

Find more interesting and exciting activities in East Crete here: Activities East Crete


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