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THE TOWN OF AGIOS NIKOLAOS ON THE ISLAND OF CRETE
Agios Nikolaos, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Kreta Spinalonga, Kreta, Crete Spinalonga, Kreta, Crete Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta
Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta The town beach (Ammoudi beach). Me in Agios Nikolaos.

Some people like it and some people don't, like with most places. And although Agios Nikolaos is rather a big place compared to other villages on Crete (it has close to 20.000 inhabitants, and many more if you count the tourists that are visiting), I, as a person that likes the peaceful and quiet spots, still think this place is okay. For me that means that it's a nice place to visit and look around for an afternoon. The landscape and it's position are unique: surrounded by the blue water of the Mirabello Gulf, with the islands of San Antonio and Spinalonga in front of it. It has a long promenade, a beautiful lake, nice shops (a cristal shop I found was really amazing), plenty of tavernes and hotels.

Agios Nikolaos has become a very populair tourist desination, so it can become crowded. On a hill at San Nicolo Bay, where the Venetian ships made their stops, you can find the well preserved Agios Nicolaos Church that dates from the 10th century (next to Hotel Minos Palace - supposedly with special, bright and beautiful fresco's of saints, but it was closed when we were there). The town of Agios Nikolaos got its name from this little church. Here the Venetians had their fortress Mirabello. Now this has been covered with hotels. The seaside of Agios Nikolaos was covered by the fortress island of Spinalonga. Agios Nikolaos is the capital of the nomos Lassithi. Most life you will find around the Voulismeni Lake and the harbour. The former sweetwater lake was connected to the sea by a canal between 1867 and 1871 (the main reason being that the water in the lake was pretty smelly). It was said to be bottomless, but in fact it is around 60 meters deep.

The center of Agios Nikolaos in the distance. Boats in the harbour of Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta
The harbour of Agios Nikolaos. Voulismeni Lake. Voulismeni Lake as seen from above. Voulismeni Lake as seen from above. Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta

Agios Nikolaos is a very nice town for making walks along the very long promenade with interesting shops, while in the meanwhile have a look over te sea and the island in front of the town. There are nice shopping streets with something for everybody (gold, furs, clothes, spices, precious stones, special sponge shops, the usual tourist shops). Many people just like to wonder around and make a stop every now and then to have a coffee or a drink on one of the many terraces. Popular are also the daytrips the the nearby island of Spinalonga with its Venetian fortress and the trip with the aquarium boat, which has a glass bottom so you can see the sealife.

Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Voulismeni lake.
De Agios Nikolaos church. Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta

In ancient times there was a port on the spot of Agios Nikolaos which belonged to the ancient city of Lato, which ultimately ran into decline. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Venetians made a castle here and named it Mirabello (= nice view). Eventually this also became the name of the whole bay. During the Turkish occupation the castle was complete destroyed and now no traces of it can be found. Today Agios Nikolaos has about 20,000 inhabitants and it is a lively tourist center. In the region of Agios Nikolaos plenty of nice hotels and apartment complexes were built.

The Voulismeni Lake was closed in earlier days and together with the Kournas Lake it formed the two freshwater lakes in Crete. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the lake was linked to the sea by a channel. Since then is is used as a berth for the fishing boats. The bottom of the lake is 64 meters deep and the banks are very steep. At the lake there is a church that is carved out in a rock. It has an old door with decorations (with winged lions).

Ammoudi beach (300 meter outside the centre of Agios Nikolaos). Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta
De Agios Nikolaos church. Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Kreta

Beaches are scarse in Agios Nikolaos: they are small and crowded. The most attractive one would be Ammoudi beach 300 meters from the harbour. It's small and sandy, with turqoise water, and it has two tavernas. It's also very busy ;). There are people that sunbathe on a couple of concrete platforms and there are a few other patches of sand with sunbeds and parasols. If you like good beaches than Elounda beach is not far away, and it's easy to get to with the bus. The nearby beaches of Ammoudara or Istro are also a good option.


Hans Huisman, http://www.angelfire.com/super2/greece/ 2014
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