Cretan History

Levena

Ancient Levena
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Lendas is built on the site of the ancient city Levina, 74km south of Heraklion, on the southern slopes of the imposing Asterousia Mountains. . The name of Levina is believed to come from the Phoenician “Lavi” which means Lion. Indeed, on the west of the village there is a cape reminding of a lion's head from far. According to the legend, this is one of the lions that pulled the chariot of goddess Rhea, the mother of Zeus, which was petrified at this point. Moreover, according to another version, the name comes from the Phoenician word “levina”, which means white and describes the whitish color of the rocks in the area. The current name Lendas comes from the word “Leondas” which means lion in Greek. The cape, which is also called Lion, is protected as archaeological site. You can visit its peak by walking for 15’ and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Traces of firstly-minoan graves and a settlement have been extracted. The settlement had connections with Egypt. The ancient city of Levina flourished in the Hellenistic and Roman Era as a harbor of Gortys, which was then the most powerful town of Crete.

On the east of Lentas, there is a spring of water, which was considered to have healing properties. Even today, studies have shown that the water is good in diseases of the stomach, blood and bleeding tendency. Thus, this spring was the cause for the construction of a huge temple, dedicated to the deified doctor Asclepius and Hygeia Sotira (4th century AC). The temple was renowned as a center of hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and psychiatry. Patients from distant areas, such as Libya, visited this place. From the temple, you can still see the altar, two marble columns and the base of a statue of Asclepius. On the site of the Early Christian Basilica of Lendas, a Byzantine church was build using also materials from the sanctuary, dedicated to Agios Ioannis Theologos. Remains of Roman baths have been found in the area of the springs.

Levina seems to have been abandoned in the 7th-8th century, possibly because of constant pirate raids.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient Settlement, Sanctuary
  • Peak Period: Roman Era (69 BC - 395 AD)
  • Accessibility: Paved road
  • Opening Hours: Daily except Monday 8:00-15:00
  • Entrance Fee (€): Free
  • Website: odysseus.culture.gr
  • K2_EXTRA_EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Phone: +30 2810 288485, +30 2810 288394
  • Fax: +30 2810288484, +30 2810343574

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