At the east side of the long Karteros bay there is the small hill of Paleochora that hosted the Minoan settlement of Amnissos. The name is mentioned as a-mi-mi-so in the Linear B tablets, i.e. the Minoan script. Amnisos findings include a Minoan harbor, several buildings and an outdoor archaic sanctuary, where god Zeus was worshiped. The habitation Amnisos started in the 19th century BC.
According to mythology, while Zeus was still a newborn baby, he had to be carried into the Dikti cave in order to hide from his father, Cronus. But on the way and as he was above Amnisos, his navel dropped here and, threfore, the area was called Omfalio Pedio (Navel Valley) in the ancient times.
The Mansion of the Lilies
At the eastern side of the hill, next to the parking lot of the bustling beach Amnissos, there is located the Minoan mansion of Lilies from thr 16th century BC with murals depicting floral motifs and blooming lilies. It seems to have housed a very important person, maybe the king of Knossos, Minos on his holiday. This villa housed a hall, bathroom, sanctum, kitchen and stone paved areas.
The murals with the lilies probably depict a sacred garden and are the main indication that there were Minoan artificial gardens. This is indicated by the lilies drawn in jagged frames, which probably are artificial ponds. Such ponds are painted in many Egyptian representations of luxurious gardens.
The mansion was destroyed by fire in the 15th century BC, but was abandoned during the 12th century BC. The building was excavated in 1932 by professor Spiros Marinatos, but unfortunately was severely damaged by the German troops during the Second World War.
The sanctuary of Zeus Thenatas
West of Paleochora hill, you will meet the ruins of one of the largest temples of ancient Crete, Temple of Zeus Thenatas. The temple was built in the 7th century BC and operated till the second century AD. Around the temple you will see a strong wall with boulders, a part of which is on the sandy beach. Inside the temple someone can still discern a circular altar.