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Home / Where to go / Tours / Malia - Lassithi - Neapoli
Malia - Lassithi - Neapoli

Let the attractive landscape of the upland plateau of Lassithi charm you: With its orchards, crop fields, a deep cave, vast mountains and the occasional white-sailed windmill, you get the feeling of driving away from the bustle of the tourist resorts, straight into the tranquillity of rural Crete and its tiny villages that have stood the test of time. Beautiful panoramic views of the Bay of Malia alternate with olive and vine groves along the uphill drive and stunning, scenic views of the plateau.

Lassithi plateau

Inhabited since Minoan times, the plain’s rich soil has always been cultivated. With Venetian occupation of the island in 1214, the plateau became a retreat for partisans who caused the Venetians a lot of trouble. It took them 50 years to gain control of the plateau, when, following an uprising the Venetians forbade anyone to trespass the plain that subsequently turned into a forested wilderness.

Only a grain shortage some 200 years later led to recultivation of the plain. During that period drainage channels were dug, the same ones we still see today. The farmers who came to Lassithi at that time were the original founders of the 20 villages the plain counts. Also during Ottoman rule the Lassithi plateau was a much sought-after target because of its fertile soil.

Until around 1880, when the potato made its entrance, there was only grain cultivation. Irrigation up until then happened by way of the nodding donkeys, a primitive sort of water pump, when around 1900, a clever young man named Manolis Papadakis, nicknamed Spirtokoutis, invented the Lassithian windmill. Using the energy of the constantly blowing wind in spring and summer, the plain soon was covered with thousands of windmills. Ever since then, Lassithi has been a potato cultivating community that is up until today famous for producing high-quality potatoes.

Neapoli

A province town and judicial centre of the Lassithi perfecture, Neapoli is unspoilt by tourism. Bishopric since 1868, its main feature is the imposing, beautiful cathedral on the main square, surrounded by trees and a children’s playground. Along with some cafes and shops, there’s a small folklore museum and an archeological collection. For authentic soumádha, a refreshing local drink made of almond syrup, visit one of the two cafes opposite the war memorial on the central square.