Explore Cretan History

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During the Dark Age, living in such remote and inhospitable areas was so arduous, that a few centuries later those settlements declined and disappeared. During the same period, the Achaeans and Dorians broke the ground for the flowering of Classical Hellenism. They introduced new customs, such as the use of iron, cremation and new clothing habits.

The "island of a hundred cities", as recorded by Homer, gradually came to the fore. Knossos became the administrative center again and new impressive cities were developed, such as Hierapytna, Itanos, Axos, Praesus, Sivrytos, Dreros, Rizinia, Tripitos, and many others.

When the Roman Quintus Caecilius Metellus undertook the conquest of Crete in 69 AD, the capital of the island was moved to Gortys, which later became the capital of the senatorial province of Crete and Cyrenaica. The city still impresses with the remains of the baths, theaters, stadium, hippodrome, citadel and temples. It was served by the ports of Matala, Lassea and Levena (current Lendas).

Apart from Gortys, many other cities flourished, with the most impressive archaeological sites being today Eleftherna, Polyrhenia, Lyttos, Elyros, Aptera, Lappa, Olous, Lato and Priansus.

After the establishment of Cretan colonies in Sicily, Marseille and Cyrene in the 7th century BC, trade flourished again and many ports surpassed in power the cities they served. Some ports evolved into major cities such as Falassarna, Lissos, Cheronissos, Lato Kamara and Inatus.

The advent of Christianity

During his journey to Rome, Paul the Apostle stopped in Crete and preached Christianity, lighting the flame of a centuries-old ascetic tradition, signs of which we meet even today in hermitages and monastic establishments of Asterousia range.

Areas that, according to tradition, were visited by Saint Paul and Saint John Xenos, turned to live ascetic communities. Among them, Asterousia and Akrotiri Cape at Chania still retain their monastic character.

The island became an important Christian center, as reflected in the hundreds of religious monuments, which are scattered everywhere. The old temples of Twelve Olympians turned into imposing basilicas and cavernous sanctuaries were transformed into churches.

Remains of early Christian basilicas, which are still awe-inspiring due to their size, are scattered throughout the island. Apart from the colossal basilica of Saint Titus by Gortys, traces of similar religious monuments are located at Hersonissos, Fragokastelo, Elounda, Almyrida, Panormo, Goulediana, Sougia and Eleftherna.

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Ancient Anopolis

Near the site of the current temple of Agia Ekaterini, above Loutro, traces of walls and buildings have been identified, belonging to the Ancient town of Anopolis, port of which was Katopoli or Phoenix, currently located in Loutro. Anopolis was an independent town and had its own currency.

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Ancient Arcadia (Afrati)

Ancient Arcadia or Arcades was a town that is believed to have been built near the village Afrati. Archaeological excavations in 1924 unearthed an ancient houses and necropolis of the 7th-9th centuries BC with vaulted tombs.

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Kefala site by Trialonia

Above the scenic village of Trialonia, Kissamos district, and a little on the east, we meet the hill of Kefala. Kefala has views to all surrounding areas and hides a truly unknown treasure, a huge archaeological site which has not been protected by the Greek State and is still being destroyed.

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Ancient Ambelos at Xirokambos

Above the beach of Gerontolakkos, at position Farmakokefalo, the archaeologist P. Papadakis in 1984 found the remains of the Hellenistic city Ambelos. Excavations revealed a prosperous city with massive walls, houses and distinct roads.

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Ancient Trypitos at Sitia

The archaeological site of Trypitos is located on a small peninsula, 3km east of Sitia, near the beach Karavopetra, which has stunning view to Sitia city. It is considered to be the ancient city of Sitia, Itia, which was originally the port of Praesus. The city flourished in the Hellenistic period (350BC-50BC).

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Ancient Sivrytos

Sivrytos (Sibryta) is an ancient town built on the hill Kefala near the current villages Thronos and Agia Fotini. It was founded during the dark years of ancient Crete, after the destruction of the Minoan civilization (1200BC) when the desperate Minoans founded cities in the most inhospitable and inaccessible peaks of the Cretan mountains, but flourished mainly in the Greco-Roman times.

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Ancient Falanna

The ancient town Falanna was located at the position of the abandoned settle Onithe, near Goulediana. It covers a large plateau in a naturally fortified site. The first use of the site is dated in the Neolithic Age, but the town flourished during the archaic times (7-6th century BC). It was a small town depended on city Rithimna.

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Gerokambos Roman Villa

At this site, in 1981, a large building of the Roman period was found that probably operated as a mansion.

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