Explore Cretan History


The Roman Naumachia of Ierapetra
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Ancient Ierapytna  (today's Ierapetra) was one of the most powerful cities in Roman Crete with great public buildings, two theaters, temples and baths. Unfortunately, little traces of the ancient city have been preserved, mainly due to the devastating raids of the Saracens in the year 824 AD and the most recent "bulldozer hunt" for the sake of modernization.

One of the highlights of the city was the Naumachia (naval battle), a maritime theater where bloody battles were performed by prisoners and slaves of the Roman Empire. This was the transfer of arenas to the marine environment. The Naumachia was inspired by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, and similar naval theaters were constructed in various cities of the Empire, but only a few in Greece.

The site of the Naumachia of Ierapetra was transformed to a lake that communicated with the sea through a narrow canal, from where the ships entered. Its original form and size are different from the current lake, as the Naumachia has suffered many changes over the centuries. Next to it there are traces of the Byzantine walls of the city destroyed by the Saracens.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
  • Water: Water all year round
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