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Archaeological sites

The Palace of Knossos The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the Mythology of Crete of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. The first excavation of the site was conducted in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos of Herakleion. This was followed by the long-term excavations (1900-1913 and 1922-1930) of the Englishman Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered virtually the entire palace. The earliest traces of inhabitation in the area of the palace go back to the Neolithic period (7000-3000 BC). The site…
Gortyn Gortyn, in the plain of Messara, was a major Cretan city, and one of the most powerful in historical times. Its architectural remains date mainly from the Roman and Byzantine periods and cover an area of about 2,000 square meters. The excavations in the area were begun in 1884 by the archaeologist F. Halbherr and continue up to the present day. The habitation in the area of Gortyn from as early as the Neolithic period is attested by vases and stone tools found on the hills, to the north, and in the plain. The Minoan period is represented by the rich finds from the Neopalatial villa at Kannia. In the Geometric period (11th-8th c. BC), a settlement evolved on the acropolis on the hill of Ai-Yannis, extending in the Archaic period (7th-6th c. BC) to the hill that was the site of the later Odeon, on which the earliest…
Ayia Triada The Minoan royal villa at Ayia Triada, 3 km to the west of the palace of Phaistos, takes its name from the small medieval village in this area. It is a superbly well-constructed building of considerable importance, and has yielded a wealth of outstanding finds. The history of Ayia Triada closely follows that of Phaistos, with which it was directly connected. The earliest traces of occupation in the surrounding area go back to the Neolithic period. The archaeological evidence indicates that the site of Ayia Triada was continuously inhabited from the Pre-Palace period down to the 13th c. BC. Later, sanctuaries were built here in Protogeometric and Geometric periods, and the sanctuary of Zeus Velchanos functioned in the Hellenistic period; there are also sporadic finds from Roman and Venetian-Turkish times. The archaeological site has three main centres: 1) the Minoan royal villa, dating from the New Palace period,…
The Palace of Phaistos The palace of Phaistos (Faestos, Phaestos, Faistos) commands the Messara plain from its location on a low hill, and it is the second largest palace of Crete after Knossos. The site was inhabited since the late neolithic era with several well organized settlements on the hill and the surrounding area, and the first palace was built around 2000 BC. Excavations have unearthed a rich historical strata, and some ruins date back to neolithic times. The palace, just like the other palaces of Minoan Crete, was destroyed three times before it was rebuilt on the ruins of the old buildings in 1700 BC. Aesthetically, Phaistos is built on the most spectacular setting of all palaces in Crete, high on a dramatic hill, overlooking the entire Messara plain framed by the Asterousia mountain range which is sprinkled with small villages to the south, and the Lasithi mountains to…
Minoan villa at Vathypetro The Minoan villa at Vathypetro was most likely the residence of a local ruler. Its architecture is comparable to that of a "Little Palace": it has a central and west court, a small tripartite shrine, a three-columned portico, storerooms and workshops. It seems that the construction of the building was never completed. Interesting elements of its architecture are the installations of a wine-press in the south wing and an oil-press in the courtyard. The construction of the villa started in ca. 1580 B.C. and lasted for thirty years but only the west wing was completed. The interior wall of the east wing had just started to be built when the whole structure was destroyed, possibly by an earthquake, and abandoned in 1550 B.C. The site was excavated in the summer of 1979 by John Sakellarakis. The walls of the building have been consolidated. Consolidation and restoration…
Aptera Ancient City Aptera was one of the most important city-states of Crete. It was already mentioned in Linear B inscriptions (13th – 14th century B.C.) and continued to exist until the 7th century A.D., when it was destroyed by a strong earthquake in combination with the attacks of the Saracens. Its excellent position on an extensive flat area of the hill, dominating the southeastern side of Souda Bay and controlling at the same time the greater area around it, proved to be ideal for the development of the city into a strong commercial and cultural centre. With its two harbours, Minoa (modern Marathi) and Kissamos, at the entrance of Souda Bay, it ensured control of every activity at sea. The written sources and the results of the excavation research until now have shown that the period of the city’s greatest prosperity were the early Hellenistic times (end of 4th…
The Palace of Knossos The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the Mythology of Crete of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. The first excavation of the site was conducted in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos of Herakleion. This was followed by the long-term excavations (1900-1913 and 1922-1930) of the Englishman Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered virtually the entire palace. The earliest traces of inhabitation in the area of the palace go back to the Neolithic period (7000-3000 BC). The site…

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