Cretan History


Ancient Elyros
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Elyros was the most important town in southwestern Crete during the Doric and Roman Period. Ruins are conserved 500m far from the village Rodovani atop the panoramic hill Kefala. The town had two harbours: Syia(current Sougia) and Lissos. The exact location of the town was verified by an inscription with the phrase in Greek "Glory to the people of Elyros".

Elyrians worshiped Apollo, the nymph Akakallida and their twin sons Filandros and Fylakidis. According to tradition, after killing Python, Apollo fled to Tarra (current Agia Roumeli), where he mated with the nymph Akakallida. Akakallida then born the twin sons Fylakidis and Filandros, who were nursed by a goat. Hence, Elyrians once sent a bronze goat suckling two infants to Delphi.

Elyros was an industrial and commercial center of Crete. It was famous for producing weapons. It minted its own currency, which certifies its power. From Elyros came (according to one version) the lyric poet Thalitas (7th century BC).

After the occupation of Crete by the Romans, the town continued its vigorous history during the Byzantine period, when it also housed a Diocese. It was later destroyed by the Saracens. The most famous Roman finding was the Roman “Statue of the Philosopher” that is exhibited today at the Museum of Chania. The statue was found on the site of an early Christian basilica, which’s floor is preserved.

Around the archaeological site of Elyros you will see several large cisterns, traces of buildings, a Roman aqueduct, part of the walls, a theater, and a turkish Koules (tower). Around the town, extends the town’s cemetery.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient City
  • Peak Period: Roman Era (69 BC - 395 AD)
  • Accessibility: Dirt track
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