Itanos had been one of the most important coastal cities of eastern Crete from the Minoan years until the first Christian era. Nowadays it is known under the name of Erimopolis. Its citizens were dominating throughout the coast of Sitia, from the Samonion cape (today cape Sidero (iron)) to the Erythreon cape (what is today called Goudoura) and the island of Lefki (Koufonisi). Itanos is also mentioned by Herodotus. When Pythia saw the oracle and told the Thyraeans to make a settlement in Libya, the latter sent emissaries to Crete in order to find guides who would lead them to Libya.

The emissaries on their arrival to Itanos met with a laver fisherman who recounted to them how he had once drifted away pushed by the wind to the land of Libya. In turn they convinced him to guide them there where they ended up funding the colony of Cyrene in 630 B.C. Itanos is also mentioned by Stephanos the Byzantine who reckons that the city's name finds its origins in the Itanos Phoenix. According to him, Itanos was a Phoenician colony controlling the laver and glass trade. It was in this city that the Phoenicians merchants, who traded with Crete, were based. Numerous laboratories for fish and laver processing, glass making and textiles were also found here. Itanos had always been a Syrio-Phoenician station where Phoenician gods such as Phoenix, Amfion and Tagha were worshiped. The city has been a very important port as it was used as a transportation base between the East and Crete.

Thanks the trade of laver, glass and fish, as well as the great income generated by the Diktaion Zeus temple, Itanos became a rich and prosperous city as one can infer by the great number of temples and luxurious marble structures that have been found here. Still, it was its affluence that led to their subjugation by the Dragmians who before rising up used to be controlled by the people of Itanos. Furthermore, when the Ierapytnians destroyed Praesos, Itanos was contained even further. After the Roman occupation of the whole island, Itanos managed to flourish thanks to seafaring and trade. The city minted its own currency that had the tridents, fish and even Triton (ancient eastern Cretan deity) as was to be expected by a seafaring city. Many of these coins are described by Sboronos. During the proto-Christian period, several glorious and gallant temples were erected as indicated by their ruins. Itanos was either destroyed in the 9th century A.D. by the Saracens or by the great earthquake in 795 A.D. The city must have been populated once more but was finally looted and utterly destroyed by pirates sometime during the 15th century. Its residents retreated to safer mountainous settlements.

The regime of Itanos was initially monarchy but later became democratic with its own senate and open parliament ("ekklesia tou demou"). Sometime during the 3rd century B.C. there was an attempt to overthrow the aristocratic democracy. The citizens of Itanos asked for help by Ptolemy the Philadelphian of Egypt who sent the general Patroclus the Patron to their aid. In Itanos several sepulchral epigrams from the proto-Christian period have been found. On the transom of the Saint-John's temple one can find an epigram from the 3rd century B.C. describing how Itanios competed and equaled in archery the god of light and music, Apollo. In 1919 an old tomb was found, covered by two plaques that can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. These plaques were made of locally extracted blue rock. The first epigraph comes from the 2nd century A.D. and consists of 98 verses badly damaged, that describe the conflict between the Itanians and the Ierapytnians over the Diktaeon sanctuary. The other epigraph contains a resolution from the 3rd century B.C. voted by the Itanians thanking the Macedonian general Patroclus the Patron. Itanos is also mentioned with the same name (u-ta-no) in the linear B inscriptions found in Knossos. In the area of Cape Sidero, the people sailing to the East worshipped the gods of the winds, that were later substituted by Poseidon.