Crete : History & Archaeology
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Elyros, Ancient city
Elyros ("Έλυρος" in Greek) is an ancient city, located in southwest Crete, in Kefala Hill, near the village Rodovani and is presently unexcavated. Elyros was flourishing at least as early as the Greek Classical Period, e.g. 500 to 350 BC. In the Classical Period Elyros was the most important ancient city in southwestern Crete, having about 16,000 inhabitants. It was an industrial and commercial city with large weapons production. Syia and Lissos were its harbours. Apollo, Phylakides and Philandros, sons of Apollo and nymph Akakallida, were worshiped there. In the third century BC Elyros was at war with Kydonia, an important center of Cretan power, located in the modern city of Chania. The citizens of Elyros sent to the Delphi Oracle, a bronze votive complex that represents a goat feeding the sons of Apollo when they were infants. It is also one of the thirty cities that signed the decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC.Elyros was also important during Roman times. A Roman statue, the Philosopher of Elyros was recovered here and is now in the Archaeological Museum of Chania. During Byzantine times, Elyros was the seat of an Archbishop and the remains of the bishopric church, a sixth century basilica, can still be seen in the centre of the old city. Robert Pashley was the first who identified the location of the city, near village Rodovani. Thenon studied more carefully the ruins of the city and discovered the inscription that says: “it seemed to the city of the Elyrians”.
The output of its mint consists of silver drachms from the 3rd c. BC, which depict a wild goat and a bee; in addition to their function as religious symbols, these undoubtedly hint at the stock-raising activities in the region, particularly to this kind of wild goat, which can still be found in great numbers on the island. The bee also has reference to the abundant honey-production of Crete.
Monofatsi, South Iraklion
Tsoutsouros (GR: Τσούτσουρος) is a small village on the southern coast of Iraklion prefecture, with lovely beaches and a small harbour. The ancient city of Inatos, used to stand were Tsoutsouros is now. Inatos served as a port to Priansos a renowned city - state of the Hellenistic time, located near the village of Kasteliana.
Tsoutsouros is a popular tourist resort especially with Greek families. There are many taverns and cafes most of them around the small harbour, and a good choice of apartments and hotels along the beach.
Anopolis village & plateau
Sfakia, South Hania
Anopolis is a small village, built on a small but fertile plateau, 12 km west from Sfakia at 600 m above sea level. There are still traces of the ruins of the ancient city that prospered around the 3rd century BC, who's port was Phoenix (Loutro). Ancient Anopolis was one of the thirty city - states that signed the peace decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC. and thus was able to mint its own coins.
During both the Venetian and the Turkish occupations, Anopolis was a center for revolutionary activities. It is the birth place of the freedom fighter Ioannis Daskalogiannis who's statue stands at the center of the village.There are three more small settlements, Limnia, Vigle and Pavliana on the same plateau.
The mountainous landscape is of outstanding wild beauty. In the village there are rooms for rent and a tavern.The village is worth visiting not only for its natural beauty but also for the opportunity to explore the White Mountains. One of the best hikes is to descent to the shore through the ravine of Aradena, a five hour walk through an imposing ravine that ends up to the wonderful beach of Marmara.
It was made by "capitano" Gianmatteo Bembo between 1552-1554, it dominates in today's Kornarou square, next to a later Turkish philanthropic fountain. It is decorated with coats of arms and other elements of the renaissance and of gothic type, while in the middle a big headless statue stands out of the roman period. The spring is ornated with floral and embossed elements.
Iraklion Old Town
It was made by Giovanni Sagredo between 1602-1604, part of it has been built in the Northwest corner of today's Loggia (Town Hall) and it is decorated with a carved female statue which according to Gerola's description probably with the left hand she was holding a shield, while with the right one a kind of a big hammer for display, representing the personification of Crete.
The «General Provisioner» Antonio Priuli made it in 1666 and it is situated today behind the "Bodosakeio" Primary School (in the area of the Venetian Dermata Gate). He decorated it with round and square columns with Corinthian type capitals, while a triangular pediment crowns the whole construction. From both sides of the columns there are niches with their metopes elaborately decorated. In the middle of the fountain there is a Turkish inscription where there is a reference to the name of the Turkish pasha who managed to bring water again in the fountain.
Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul
Iraklion Old Town
It is situated approximately in the middle of the seaside wall. It was built from the first years of the venetian domination and belonged to the monastic order of Dominicans (Domenicani Predicatori). It was one of the most important and biggest Catholic monasteries of the city. The earthquake of 1508 caused a lot of damages to the temple. It consists of a long aisle which is roofed by a two slope roof and ends at a sanctuary roofed by two vaults. To the north and south wall of the temple there are windows of different types that were opened either during the Turkish period, or even earlier.
Battle of Crete Museum
The Museum of the Battle of Crete and National Resistance (1941-1945) was founded by the Municipality of Heraklion in May 1994.The museum's aim is to collect, preserve and exhibit relics from 1941-1945 in an appropriate manner, as well as to document and disseminate information on the people's struggle during the Battle of Crete and the German-Italian occupation.
In addition to presenting a range of material witnesses to the past, the museum aims to cultivate interest and respect for the history of Crete.
Doukos Beaufort and Merambellou Str.
Tel. (+30)2810 246 554
Excavations in Crete
Excavations began in Crete in the second half of the 19th century. In 1878, Minos Kalokairinos, an antiquarian from Iraklion, discovered the Palace of Knossos and did some preliminary excavation work there. In 1884, the Society for the promotion of education under its president, Iosif Hadzidakis, collaborated with Halbherr in excavating the Idaean Cave and the Cave of Eileithyia at Amnissos, and at both these sites wealth of votive offerings were found. In the same year the "LAW CODE" , an important ancient text, was discovered at Gortys.
freedom fighter born in Adele
Kostis Yiamboudakis was the hero who ignited a fire in the gunpowder storage room of the Arkadi Monastery in November 1866 and won glory for himself and the island of Crete. He was a simple villager with a big heart and great love for freedom.
Smari has a very long history and was inhabited, according to reliable sources, from the proto-Minoan period onwards. The archeological relics in the Akropolis of the hill called Profitis Elias, excavated under the direction of the Archeologist D. Hatzi Vallianou, indicate a continuous human presence from the Middle-Minoan period to about 630 B.C.
Archanes Archaeological collection
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes opened in 1993. It occupies an area of 570 square meters and it is located at the Tzami quarter in the center of the settlement. There, for the first time in Crete, the archaeological finds from a single site are exhibited. While the exterior spaces of the building were adapted to a tasteful ensemble, in resemblance with the impressive modesty of the environment and the traditional ochre and rosy colour tonations of Archanes. The interior was thus arranged as to accommodate the most modern mode of exhibition, especially attractive for the visitor.
Hryssoskalitissa, Kissamos South West
The monastery of Chryssoskalitissa (golden stair GR: Χρυσοσκαλίτισα) is dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother and the Holy Trinity. It is located at the southwest part of Kissamos, 70km away from Chania. The fortress like monastery is built on a rock and pilgrims visiting have to follow a staircase carved on it with 98 steps. According to the tradition, the last one was made of gold but only faithful people could see it.
Two small villages, Epano & Kato (Upper & Lower) Rodakino halfway from Plakias to Frangokastelo, overlooking the bay of Korakas. Rodakino is 42 kms from Rethimnon, 27 kms from Hora Sfakion and 13 kms from Fragokastello. Rodakino is surrounded by small beaches some of them accessible only by foot, were visitors can isolate themselves from any trace of civilization. There are some small hotels and rooms to rent available and a couple of tavernas. The road to Rodakino is asphalt paved and there is a bus service to Rodakino from Rethimnon twice a day.
In the village the visitor can find a taxi station, and a gasoline station. A doctor is available for medical emergencies on the village of Plakias approximately 15 kms from Rodakino.
Rodakino played its own part during the eons, in the fighting of the Cretans against all the invaders. The village was totally destroyed during the Venetian occupation, with only one resident escaping to Peloponnese in Greece . Years after the destruction he returned to the site of the village, and he rebuilt it.
In Kourkoylo one of the quarters of the village the first rising of the flag of the revolution against the Turks was raised on May 24th 1821.
During the second World War the kidnapped German general Craipe was sent away from the bay of Korakas to the Middle East.
Anogia is a mountain town with 2500 permanent residents and is 55 km away from Rethymnon and 36 km from Iraklion. The name Anogia, means "high place - Ano Gi", is connected with the location that is built, in altitude of 700 m. Hospitable and pleasant residents have to tell a lot of old stories that have marked the tradition and the culture of the village. Anogia is a well-known village historically for its resident's resistance to the conquerors, Turkish and Germans.
Kalikratis Village & Gorge
Sfakia, South Hania
Kalikratis is a small mountainous village at the foot of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) at an altitude of 750m above sea level. It is a traditional village with many well preserved stone houses. A German army of two thousand soldiers, invaded the village during the October of 1943 , burned it down and executed twenty men and nine women who did not manage to leave on time.
A little to the south of the village starts the gorge of the same name which is part of the European hiking footpath (E4) and after some 4km walking ends at the village of Patsianos.
Preveli Memorial for the Resistance & Peace
The Holy Monastery of Preveli, to mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, decided to erect privately and under its supervision, an international memorial dedicated to the Resistance of the Cretan Population and Peace.
The Memorial was erected on the monastery's own land, on a site with a stunning panoramic view, overlooking the Libyan sea. The site is alongside the main bitumen road to the Monastery, and just 1.8 kms before the Monastery itself.
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.
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