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AGHIOS NIKOLAOS

Aghios Nikolaos (10.906 residents), owes its name, to the homonym Byzantine church, that is found to the outskirts of the town.
It is perhaps the most ancient church of Crete, as is being testifying by the murals, which are referred to the period of iconoclasm (9th century A.D.).

Protector of both seamen and seas, Aghios Nikolaos (San Nicolas) possesses perhaps the most preferential place in the island, either about its perfect Mediterranean climate, or about the tourism.
On the westernmost coast of Mirabello gulf (excellent view), surrounded by beautiful and clean beaches, Aghios Nikolaos was the first tourist destination for all Greece.
Therefore, sovereign element of that beautiful town seems to be the sea, with the characteristic lagoon (Voulismeni), in the centre of the city, where according to the mythology, the goddess Artemis, daughter of Lato, used to wash.
Historically, the city of Aghios Nikolaos is lived continuously, since the late-Minoan period, as harbour of Lato, called Kamara, with particular growth in the 4th century B.C.
During the period of expedition of Alexander the Great, Lato and Kamara sent an armada, under the supervision of admiral "Nearchos" who in deed realised the first overseas travel of European navigation, founding "Alexandrou Limin" in the current Karachi in Pakistan.
The ancient harbour was found northerly than the current harbour of Aghios Nikolaos. The Acropolis of Kamara (Heraklion), which is not saved, was found in the hill where it dominates today the building of Lasithi Prefecture.

In1206A.D. under the Venetian possession, on the same hill, where was found the Acropolis, was built the Venetian Castle called "Castle of Mirabello" (Castelli di Mirabella) from which took its name the gulf of Mirabello.

The same period Aghios Nikolaos was named Mandraki by the Italian Mandracchio = closed harbour. The castle has been exploded by the Venetians in1645A.D.
Aghios Nikolaos despite its small size, but also as reason of its favourable position, accomplished, on marvellous way, to avoid the ugly consequences of various periods of possession, as when as was the unique city of Crete that repulsed successfully the invasion of "Barbarossa" in 1538A.D.
In 1903A.D. became capital of Lasithi prefecture.
Aghios, as is called by its "friends", constitutes the first Greek town that had a modern hotel.
Even today it seems to maintain inalterable its fame as one of the most beautiful and loved towns of Greece.