Crete : History & Archaeology
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Palace and Archaeological site
The famous Palace of king Minos and the centre of the Minoan civilisation 5km south of Iraklion. The Great Palace covered an area of 20.000 sq. meters and had 1.400 rooms. Every section of the Palace had a specific use. In the west side of the Palace were the chambers of the ceremonies, of the administration and of the public storehouse...
Palace and Archaeological Site
The archaeological site, the palace, the findings - The Festos Disc. According to mythology, Phaistos (or Festos) was the seat of king Radamanthis, brother of king Minos. It was also the city that gave birth to the great wise man and soothsayer Epimenidis, one of the seven wise men of the ancient world.Excavations by archaeologists have unearthed ruins of the Neolithic times (3.000 B.C.).
Gortyn Ancient town
Messara, Iraklion South
Located in the valley of Messara, Gortys or Gortyn (GR: Γόρτυς or Γόρτυνα) is a must visit for all visitors to Crete. It was inhabited during Bronze Age times, but its rise to glory came almost a millennium after the downfall of the 'Minoans'. Gortyn was a prosperous city from around the middle of the 5th century BC through to the early 9th century AD, when it was finally destroyed by the Saracens (824AD), never to be rebuilt.
Malia Minoan Palace
Archaeological site in Malia, Iraklion
The Palace of Malia, which covered an area of 7,500 sq.m. , was the third- largest of the Minoan Palaces and is considered the most "provincial" from the architectural point of view. The first Palace was built in 1900 BC and destroyed in 1700 BC when a new Palace was built. Following the fate of the other palaces in Crete it was also destroyed in 1450 BC. and the present ruins are mainly those of the new palace.
Eleftherios K. Venizelos (1864-1936)
Politician born in Mournies, Chania
Eleftherios Venizelos (Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos, GR: Ἐλευθέριος Κυριάκου Βενιζέλος - 23 August 1864 – 18 March 1936), born in Mournies village near Chania, was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932. Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece", and he is still widely known as the "Ethnarch".
Zakros Palace and Archaeological Site
Sitia, East Crete
Like the other Cretan palaces, the palace of Zakros, was first built in about 1900 B.C. The present ruins seen by the visitor belong to the second building phase, in about 1600 BC.
The total area of the palace, including ancillary buildings, is approximately 10,000 sq.m. It was not only the permanent residence of the royal family, but also the administrative, as well as commercial and religious centre of the surrounding area.
The long term excavations have yielded over 10,000 objects, many of them considered unique, which are now on display in the Iraklion and Sitia museums.
Viannos town & area
South east Iraklion
Historical place with outstanding natural beauty, unspoiled villages and great beaches. The town of Ano Viannos is built amphitheatrically on the southern slopes of Dikti mountain at 560 m. above sea in a distance of 65km from Iraklion and 40km from Ierapetra. It preserves the traditional character with the narrow paved streets, the stone built houses - especially the "Plaka' quarter - the old kefeneios with tables under the plane trees and old churches such as Agios Georgios and Agia Pelagia with wall paintings dating back to the 14th century. There are a few accommodation facilities, banks, medical center, taverns, gas stations, shops etc. Ano Viannos is the seat of the municipality of Viannos.
Agia Triada Arch. Site
Archaeological Site in Messara, S-W Iraklion
The "Royal Villa" at Ayia Triada which is situated very close to Phaistos, was built in about 1550 BC. i.e. just before the new palace at Phaistos, and was destroyed by fire in l450 BC, like all other important Minoan centres. It succeeded the first palace at Phaistos as the economic and administrative centre of the regions depriving the new palace there of this role, and appears to have had connections with Knossos. The two wings, with an open-air space between them, consisted of groups of interconnecting rooms (polythyra), storerooms and stairways. On the site of the ruins, a Mycenaean megaron, the so-called "Agora" and an open - air shrine were subsequently built.
In the villa's disaster layer from the fire in 1450 BC, excavation revealed a valuable group of exceptional works of art, precious materials, records in Minoan script and seals. The famous black serpentine vessels, the "Harvesters' Vase", the "Boxers' Vase" and the "Chieftain ‘ s Cup", the wall paintings depicting the natural landscape, the sarcophagus, the bronze and clay figurines of worshipers and the copper ingots from the Treasury are among the most noteworthy findings.
Found at Phaistos Palace
The disc of Phaistos is the most important example of hieroglyphic inscription from Crete and was discovered around 1903-05 in a small room near the depositories of the "archive chamber", in the north - east apartments of the palace, together with a Linear A tablet and pottery dated to the beginning of the Neo-palatial period (1700- 1600 B.C.).
The disc of Phaistos can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Archaeological Museum of Herakleion
The most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and completeness is housed in this museum. The exhibiton of the museum is organized in chronological order, ranging from the Neolithic period to the Roman era (4th century A.D.) and geographically, according to the provenance of the finds.
Gournia - Archaeological Site
Pahia Ammos, Ierapetra
Gournia lies on a small hill, a few hundred metres from the sea in the Gulf of Mirabello, close to the north end of the Ierapetra isthmus ( 2 Km from Pachia Ammos village & 19 Km from Ag.Nikolaos). Gournia - the ancient name of which is not known - is the most characteristic of the excavated medium-size settlements, dated to the period of the peak of the Minoan culture (Late Minoan I period: 1550-1450 B.C.).
It is called "Pompeii of Minoan Crete" because of the good state of preservation. It occupies a low hill, close to the sea, at the Isthmus of Ierapetra.
Historical Museum of Crete
The history and culture of Crete, from the first centuries of the Christian era to our present time. An exceptional museum featuring a collection of extremely precious objects, a must see for every visitor to Crete. The museum is housed in a two storey neoclassical building, which was constructed in 1903 on the site of an earlier mansion.
Gramvoussa island & Fort
Gramvoussa Cape, Kisssamos
Due to its strategic location, Gramvoussa was fortified by the Venetians, who built a well-fortified castle on the top of a steepy rock at an altitude of 137 m. Construction on the castle of Gramvoussa started in 1579 and ended in 1582.
Agios Vassilios, Rethymnon south
It stands 37 km south of Rethimnon, in an imposing landscape which is mentioned at the mid-19th century diary of Th. Spratt (admiral of the British Royal Navy), as "one of the happiest places to withdraw from trials and responsibilities of life".There are lots of legends concerning the foundation of the monastery, which is believed that started during the Venetian occupation of the island. A number of its monks activities made the monastery one of the richest of western Crete and due to its isolated position it played important role in Cretan revolts against the occupying forces. A substantial number of icons and other items is kept in the Museum of the Monastery of Preveli amongst them the miracle - working Eulogistic Cross of Efraim Prevelis.
Aptera Archaeological Site
Aptera, Apokoronas, Hania
One of the most important city - states of Crete. The first epigraphic occurence of its name (A-pa-ta-wa) is found in the Linear B tablets found at Knossos. (14th - 13th century B.C.). The history of the city is continued through the centuries untill the 7th century A.D. when a major earthquake destoyed it. Its ideal location, allowed the city to control the naval activity in the bay of Souda, and was determinative for its development in an important commercial center.
The era of the city's greatest peak was the early Hellenistic period (late 4th - 3rd century B.C.). At that time Aptera experienced an economical and political floruit, begins to mint its own coins and develops diplomatic relations with important centres of the Hellenistic world.
The most important monuments of the site are:
Bipartite temple, known as the "bipartite sanctuary", dated to the 5th-4th century B.C.
Graves of the Geometric-Roman periods.
The fortification wall, preserved to a length of almost 4 kilometres.
Part of a Roman bouleuterion.
Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos.
Turkish fortress built in 1866-1869.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
The Monastery of Arkádi (GR:Αρκάδι) built during the last Venetian period, it consists of a large set of fortress-like buildings. The main building included the cells, the warehouses where the agricultural products were treated and stored, the stables. In a word, it was a well-equipped little fortress where people could find refuge in times of trouble. There is an impressive church, with two naves dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, and to Our Lord. Due to the holocaust it suffered in 1866, Arkadi has become the island's most famous monastery.
Lefki (Koufonissi) island
Sitia, East Crete
Koufonisi is a small island in the Libyan Sea just off the South East coast of Crete and the Cape of Goudouras.
It is also named LEFKI and gave its name to the municipality.
There is a cluster of small islets in the area like Makroulo, Strogylo, Trahila and Marmara. The island is deserted and in many spots it is covered with sand reminding an African landscape.
Until 1976 the shepherds used to feed their sheep there but it was not inhabited.
Later the Archaeological Offices of Eastern Crete under the authority of N. Papadakis began the excavations and the island proved to be full of ancient sites.
A beautiful theater, made of stones, at the North West end of the island opposite the Marmaras islet was discovered. At the South East of the theater where a settlement was found, a villa with 8 rooms and a guest room was brought to light.
The excavations also showed a workshop where the famous purple robes of the Romans was made. They also dig out an astonishing building, the Public Baths, dated back to 1st and 4th A.D. and ruins of an old temple.
Boats depart daily from Makrygialos to Koufonissi (during the tourist season and only if the weather permits) offering day-trips.
A short description of Lefki, by the archaeologist Nikos Papadakis:
Koufonisi island covered today with sand and bushes, lies close to the southeast shore of Crete. From the Middle - Ages until today is nowhere referred that the island has ever been inhabited permanently. However scattered ancient remnants, drew the attention of the English admiral and traveller T B. Spratt in the mid - 19th century. His itinerary and visit was repeated by the English archaeologists Bosanquet and Curely in 1903 and by the American A. Leonard jr in 1970. The definite conclusion all the above travellers reached was that Koufonisi could be identified with the island Lefki of antiquity for which the people of Itanos and Hierapytna were contending as it is referred in the famous "Inscription of Magnetes" of 112 - 111 B.C.
Excavations and archaeological research have since 1976 taken the responsibility to answer to the questions almost innate and consequent to the above conclusion and the result is undoubtedly impressive: An entire theater that could have housed a thousand spectators: a temple still containing fragments from the colossal cult statue: two private houses with 17 rooms decorated with mosaics and colourful walls: a system supplying water to the city through a series of vaulted cisterns and built pipes: a Minoan acropolis: cemeteries and last but not least the city of Lefki itself. Thus, slowly but steadily is unveiled the short but impressive presence of this small island nearby east Crete. Judging from the so far finds we can say that Lefki being one of the major centers of processing and trading purple, a symbol of authority and economic power soon became the object of rivalry among its neighbours. A series of diplomatic intrigue and fighting had occurred over the dominance of this prolific island. Later when its sources of prosperity were depleted the people of Lefki were exterminated through arms and fire: an invasion in the 4th century A.D. turned the historic island into ashes. On the basis of the existing ruins the importance it had for its neighbours and the fact that it was never again inhabited after its destruction we may describe Koufonisi by quoting a western journalist as Delos of the Libyan Sea.
Ierápetra Archaeological Museum
Ierapetra town, South Lassithi
The museum was founded at the end of the 19th century, during the Turkish occupation of Crete and was housed in several buildings in the past. Today it is housed in the building of the Commercial Ottoman School, which is protected by a preservation order. The collection includes findings from the broader area and from the Minoan to the Roman period. Among the items are painted sarcophagi, lamps, vases, figurines, relief plaques. One of the most important exhibits of the museum is the Clay sarcophagus dated to 1450-1400 B.C.
Minoan Megaron 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.
Tylissos Archaeological Site
The houses of Tylissos were built during the LM I period (16th-15th century B.C.). Additions were made on House A in the LM II (15th-14th century B.C.) and on House C during the LM III period (14th century B.C.). The site was destroyed by fire in the 14th century B.C. and re - inhabited in historic times as is attested by ruins of later houses over the Minoan ones. Tylissos was excavated by Joseph Chatzidakis in 1902-1913. In 1954, in the course of restorations, parts of a paved court were revealed to the west, and a small stoa with five columns to the north of the Square of the Altar.
The monuments were restored by the Archaeological Service (under the direction of Nicolaos Platon) in the period between 1954 and 1962. All three houses were again restored in 1990-1994.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
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