Ierapetra, which means 'sacred rock', is the largest city on the south coast of Crete, and the southernmost city in Europe.
There was most likely a Minoan port or settlement here, but later it became a powerful Doric city in Hellenistic times, called Ierapytna. which was the final nail in the coffin of Minoan civilization in eastern Crete.
Under the Romans, who conquered the entire island, with Ierapytna the last holdout (but which finally gave way as well), it became a big trade center in the eastern Mediterranean, with Crete now part of the province of Cyrenaica, which included northern Libya (where Cyrene was located).
Later it was a Byzantine bishopric, was pillaged by the Saracens, and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1508. No one has much good to say about present-day Ierapetra, which is mainly a farm-supply center with a decent waterfront and some beaches to the east that have been awarded the EU blue flag (meaning that they are clean and unpolluted).
The town used to attract a lot of people looking for agricultural work during the off-season, and despite its not being an exciting place, it gets some package tourism.
There is a thirteenth-century Venetian Kastelli (fort) along the seafront (open 9am-9pm) and the fourteenth century church of Afendi Christos, with a wooden iconostasis. The Archaeological Museum is well worth a visit (Tues-Sat 8am-3pm;1.50euros). There is also a Tzami (Turkish Mosque with a minaret.