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The main facade of both the Old and the New Palace looked onto the West Court, off which the official entrances to the Palace opened. The facade which can be seen on a lower level belongs to the Old Palace(1900- 1700 BC). It is indented according to the rules of Minoan architecture. The lower part of the walls is constructed of massive limestone blocks (orthostats). The entrance is set into a recess in the SW corner of the court. lt consisted of a monumental porch with a large central column from which a splendid corridor, paved with gypsum slabs, led to the Central Court. This old entrance is now interrupted by the buildings of the New Palace.
Higher up and 7 metres further back is the facade of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). It is constructed of large ashlars and also has deep indentations and protrusions. There are two entrances leading to the interior of the Palace. The main entrance is on the north and consists of a monumental staircase leading to the Propylaea. The other is deeply recesed and leads via a wide corridor to the Oentral Court, crossing the West Wing of the Palace
The impressive staircase starting in the west Court led to the monumental Propylaea, the principal and most impressive entrance to the New Palace (1700-M50 BC). The portico consists of a central column - only the base is preserved today - flanked by pilasters. There followed a solid wall with a double opening and a colonnade of three columns. The floors of the Propylaea complex were paved with gypsum slabs which gave it a sumptuous appearance. The colonnade opens onto a large open-air light-well through which rainwater drained away.
There are two accesses from the Propylaea to different parts of the Palace. The first access, in the hall with the colonnade, led via a staircase and corridors to the Peristyle and thence to the "Royal Apartments".
The second, in the SE corner of the light-well, led to an inner staircase which ended in the Antechamber of the Magazines and the Central Court of the Palace.
Magazine of the Giant Pithoi
The magazines of the Old Palace(1900-1700 BC) occupied a large part of the West Wing immediately to the east of the West Court and extended to the lower terrace. Apart from their use as storage areas, they also appear to have housed some of the workshop activities of the Old Palace. Today most of the magazines have been filled in.
One of these is the magazine with the giant pithoi (storage jars) decorated with discs and rope patterns in relief. Just east of this is a well-preserved quern installation for grinding grain. There is another well-preserved Old Palace magazine under the floor of the light-well in the Propylaea.
The north part of the West Wing is occupied by she large complex of the palace magazines or store rooms. It consists of the antechamber, the corridor of the magazines and the magazines themselves. The first wide hall forms the antechamber of the magazines and opens off the Central Court via a doorway with a central column and two pillars. Two other columns inside the room supported the roof. Under the floor of the antechamber was discovered the Archive Room of the 0ld Palace (l900 - 1700 BC), containing over 6.000 clay sealings, i.e. seal impressions on balls of clay, which were used to monitor the movement of the goods in the magazines(fig 1).
A double doorway with a central pillar on the west side of the antechamber led to the corridor of the magazines, with a second central pillar supporting the roof of the corridor. To right and left were the ll magazines, in which the goods produced by the Palace were stored. The westernmost magazine, on the north side of thecorridor, which has been roofed over by the excavators contains tall pithoi (storage jars), one of which bears an inscription in Linear A (fig.2)
West Wing Shrines
Almost the whole south part of the West Wing was dedicated to the shrines of the New Palace. The main architectural types of shrine are the "Bench Shrine" and the "Lustral Basin".
The first type consists of small, rectangular rooms with low benches running round the walls, perhaps to support cult objects and figurines of the deity. On some of them were found female figurines, ritual vessels and "Offering Tables" (small altars). On the walls of some rooms are incised sacred symbols, such as the double Axe and the star.
The "lustral Basin" type consists of rooms which are set somewhat lower than the surrounding structures, with a few steps leading down into them.
The were usually lined with slabs of gypsum, giving them a highly - finished appearance. Although it is doubtful that these structures contained water, it is thought that they were used for purification rituals.
There is a third type of Minoan shrine in the S-E part of the shrine wing. Its is a room with central pillars (Square, stone - built columns) thought to be a cult area, similar to the "Pillar Crypts" of the Palace of Knossos, where the sacred pillar was worshiped by pouring libations.
The great Central Court is a basic architectural element of Minoan palaces and the core around which the different wings are set. It was the focus of the economic, social and religious activity of the palace, the setting for events which could be watched from the windows and balconies.
The Central Court of the Palace of Phaistos was built in the time of the Old Palace (1900-1700 BC). It was also used in the New Palace with minor alterations to its orientation and dimensions. It is a rectangular paved, open area with colonnades running along both its long sides, with alternating pillars and columns which supported open colonnades.On the west side of the court, two adjoining rectangular rooms with benches, open on to the Central Court, may have been "sitting rooms" for the spectators watching the events taking place in the Central Court. In the east colonnade of the court, some stone-built benches next to a water cistern may have formed islands of rest and recreation.
The stepped structure in the NW corner of the court may have been an altar for the ceremonies which were held here.
The pithoi (large storage jars) in front of it were found in buildings founded in the site of the Great Court after the destruction of the Palace.
The North Wing is one of the most important wings of the Palace, as it is believed to have housed the "Royal Apartments". lt also contained sets of rooms, inner courtyards, corridors and staircases leading to the upper floor. The splendid gateway on the north side of the Central Court led to the complex of the "Royal Apartments". It is framed by two magnificent wooden half-columns, now reconstructed.
On either side of the gateway are two niches decorated with wall paintings, in which the gate guards may have stood. Behind the gateway is a wide corridor with a drainage duct, which led to an inner courtyard, which in turn led to the "Royal Apartments" complex.
The term "Royal Apartments" was established by the excavators, who followed the terminology applied by Evans to similar areas at Knossos. They are undoubtedly official apartments with particular architectural features, such as open balconies and colonnades, polythyra (pier-and-door partitions), lightwells and "Lustral Basins". The gypsum slab flooring and colourful wall paintings gave these apartments a particularly luxurious appearance.
The open peristyle court was one of the most elegant inner courtyards of the New Palace. It consisted of an impressive peristyle with four columns on each side supporting the corresponding colonnades, while the central area remained open. The same construction appears to have continued on the upper floor, with a second row of columns.
The peristyle court was a focal point of the Palace with access routes leading from here to the "Royal Apartments", the Propylaea and the Central Court.
The ruins visible on a lower level in the centre of the peristyle belong to a house of the Prepalatial settlement (3200-1900 BC).
The northernmost of the "Royal Apartments" has been identified as the King's Megaron and bears a striking resemblance to the corresponding "King's Megaron" at the Palace of Knossos. It consists of a spacious central hall with impressive polythyra (pier - and - door partitions) on the north and east sides. The east polythyron communicates with a second room with two columns, which opens onto a large light-well to the east. The gypsum slab flooring with red plaster filling, the interstices, gave the whole complex a particularly sumptuous air.
The north side of both rooms opens onto a spacious colonnade with columns set far apart, offering a magnificent view of Mount Psiloritis and the sacred Kamares Cave. A long corridor at the back of the polythyron room leads to the impressive "Lustra1 Basin" of the Megaron. The whole apartment was decorated with colourful wall paintings depicting linear and plant motifs.
The southernmost of the "Royal Apartments" ofPhaistos has been identified as the Queen'sMegaron. It consists of a beautiful, spacioushall with a double colonnade opening ontoa light-well. The floors are paved with gypsum slabswith red plaster filling the interstices. Gypsumwas also widely used for the benches runningaround the walls of the Megaron and the facingof the lower part of the walls. The upper walls aredecorated with frescoes depicting plant motifs. Twobeautiful rhyta (libation vessels) were found here: one is decorated with the cult symbols of thedouble axe and sacral knot, while the other bears areed pattern.
The two staircases to west and north led to the upper floorof the Megaron and the peristyle, where one of the mainentrances to the "Royal Apartments" was located.
The complex of four rooms on the northeast edge of the Palace does not belong to the Old Palace, although it directly adjoins it. In the westernmost building is an elongated rectangular room with partitions of vertical clay slabs. Similar "cists" in the Palaces of Knossos and Zakros were used to store valuable ritual vessels. Here they were found empty. Next door, in the narrow rectangular room to the southeast, was found a clay tablet inscribed in Linear A and the famous "Phaistos Disc" bearing hieroglyphic writing. The building was therefore named the Palace "Archive"
The building east of the Archive is thought to be a shrine or the archivist's residence, while the easternmost building is known as the "Potter's Workshop" because a large number of unfinished pots were found there. The intermediate building has an impressive peristyle of alternating pillars and columns. A staircase on the south side of the peristyle building connects the whole complex to the NE entrance to the Palace, which stood in this spot.
East Court and the workshop complex
The east part of the North Wing forms the workshop area of the Palace. It consists of the East Court and a complex of small rooms which are believed to be the workshops of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). Approximately in the centre of the court are the ruins of a horseshoe-shaped kiln. The elongated rectangular building with 6 rooms on the west side of the court appears to have been used for the workshops of the kiln craftsmen.
The square room on the north side of the court was the gatehouse of the northeast entrance to the Palace. It has gypsum slab flooring and benches around the walls. Behind it is a long corridor leading to the inner courtyard of the North Wing and thence to the "Royal Apartments"
Agios Georgios Phalandras
The church of Agios Georgios (St. George GR: Αγιος Γεώργιος) Phalandras stands a little to the south from the Palace of Phaistos on the road to Agios Ioannis village. The church was the monastery church of the Orthodox male monastery of the same name, dated to the early Venetian period (16th century), which operated normally until its dissolution in 1821. The ruins of the fortified building complex around the church were still visible until the first decades of the 20th century.
Union Of Agricultural Cooperatives Of Iraklion
Established in 1927, AGRUNION is one of the largest agricultural cooperative unions of Greece, with 167 members of 1st degree and over 47.000 members (farmers). Its range of products include olive oil, wines, vinegar and table grapes, sold into the Greek and foreign markets. They are produced in new-built factories equipped with foremost technological equipment, totally owned by AGRUNION.
Gortyn archaeological site
The Roman Odeum at Gortyn is considered one of the best and the most important of its type on Crete. Is has been founded at the North part of the Ancient Agora of the City. This semicircular building consists of three main parts:
a. The Cavea, connected with a domed corridor through three wide staircases;
b. the Orchestra, which has an internal diameter 8,5 m. and was paved with white and blue marble slabs;
c. The Scene, which had two entrances and the paraskenion, with mosaic pavement in geometric pattern. Statues of Muses stood in the niches. Initially the building was a circular Ekklesiasterion founded in the 5th c. BC. In the portico of this public building the Great Inscription with the Law Code of Gortyn dated to the early 5th c., stood. It was destroyed twice: in the 1st century BC, and again in 46 AD. After this last destruction it was reconstructed as an Odeum.
The great Inscription is considered to be the largest Greek inscription, the Queen of all Inscriptions. Its first fragments were found by the French travelers and were bought by the Louvre Museum. The most part of the Inscription was found accidentally by local farmers in 1884 and was further explored F. Halbherr.
It is a Law Code inscribed in the boustrophedon system of writing. It dates in the 1st half of the 5th c. BC and is the oldest Greek and European Law Code. It consists of twelve Deltoi and was built in the Ekklesiasterion of the 5th c BC. In this Code older laws, regarding the personal and family rights of the citizens of Gortyn, were codified.
The plane tree of Zeus and Europa
Gortyn archaeological site
According to the myth, Zeus, disguised as a bull, coupled with Europe, whom he had brought from Phoenicia, under a deep- shaded plane tree on the banks of the Lethaios River. The offspring of this union were three sons, Minos, Sarpidon and Radamanthis. Later, the oldest Agora of the city of Gortyn, the Ekklesisterion (Congress hall), and the Roman Odeum were founded on this site. The plane tree was blessed and has remained ever green since that time. As his place of birth, the city was founded by King Minos himelf.
According to the myth, it was on the fields of Gortyn that the bull given as a gift to Minos by Poseidon coupled with the Queen Pasiphae and out of this union Minotaur was born.
Saint Titus Church
Gortyn archaeological site
Saint Titus church at Gortyn bears the name of the Apostle Titus, attendant of Apostle Paul, who was appointed as the first Christian bishop of Crete. It is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Crete. The name was given to the ruined church by the excavators in the beginning of the 20th c., as they considered it to be the site of the saint’s martyrdom. After the discovery of the new Great Early Byzantine Basilica, just outside the village Mitropolis, its excavators have proposed that as the original bishopric basilica, as it is a century earlier than this, which in the local tradition is named and celebrated after Virgin Mary, “Kera”.
The church has the plan of a three aisled inscribed cross with a low vault. It has been built of ashlar limestone. It has a narthex to the west and five entrances three of which form the trivelum with two columns. There were pillars instead of columns. Its architectural features date its foundation in the 2nd half of the 6th c. AD.
Gortyn archaeological site
The main acropolis of Gortyna was located on Agios Ioannis hill, to the northwest of the Agora. Acropolis can be accessed from its west side driving through Ambelouzos village to the direction of Gergeri. At a spot around 1.6 kms from Gortyna parking there is a footpath (not clearly signposted and maintained) that leads to the top of the hill. Once at the top you'll be rewarded by the magnificent view to the whole area and the archaeological site itself.
The site was first inhabited in the Neolithic era and again at the end of Minoan times (1200 BC). Since then it was continuously inhabited until the Middle Byzantine period. From the first settlement only parts of walls, floors and hearths were preserved. In the 10th century BC a Geometric settlement was established fortified by a polygonal wall with towers at the corners. At the end of the 7th c. A.D., a small tripartite temple, dedicated to Athena Poliouchos was founded at the south side of the hill. From this temple some very important architectural sculptures were excavated. During the Early Byzantine period (5 - 6th century AD), a basilica was erected over the ruins of the geometric/archaic temple and, in the time of the emperor Heraclios (7th century A.D.) the last fortification with a castle in the center was built which still survives but in a very poor condition.
The Temple of Apollo Pythios
The Temple of Apollo Pythios (Pythian Apollo) located in the center of the ancient Agora, was excavated in 1887 and was the largest temple and the religious center of ancient Gortyn until the introduction of Christianity and the founding of the basilica of St. Titus around 500 AD.
The first building of the seventh century. BC was a four-sided enclosure with four wooden pillars in the center to support the roof. The exterior walls and stairs of the crepis were covered with archaic inscriptions. In the Hellenistic period a monumental anteroom was added while columns with inscriptions were placed between the pillars. Alterations and additions were made during the Roman period. Outside the temple was built a magnificent altar on a stepped base while in the west of the temple was built a small theatre.
In the middle Byzantine period in the vicinity of the temple, which had been abandoned, were built houses and aqueducts.
Many finds have been made in the temple among which the colossal statue of Apollo Pythios and many inscriptions with administrative and law content of the Archaic and Hellenistic period. Dates: 7th c BC; Hellenistic; 2nd c AD.
The Praetorium was the seat and residence of the proconsul of Crete. It is divided into two parts: the administrative section, in which the central building is the basilica, and the more "private" sector. The preserved ruins are dated to the 2nd century A.D. and seem to have been repaired in the 4th century A.D.
This totally excavated building is the largest in the whole City of Gortyn. The earliest constructions have suffered successive alterations in a long period of eight centuries. New structures were erected on the ruins of the earlier sometimes incorporating parts of them. In the 1st c AD the Praetorium consisted of a peristyle court 1000 sq.m. and large halls to the north and west. This first Praetorium was destroyed by an earthquake in the time of the Emperor Trajan (early 2nd c AD). It was reconstructed and a large Thermai complex was built at its east side. Some years later a large temple dedicated to the Augusts was built further at the east part. To the west of the Thermai the juridical basilica continued to function under a judge’s responsibility according to the inscriptions found there, and statues of the emperors and other officers were still standing there. All these famous buildings were destroyed by the large earthquake in 365 AD. In 383 the consul Oecumenius Asclepiodotus Dositheus, agreeing with the capital of the empire, took care of the construction of the new Praetorium.
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