The archaeological site of Gournia is located on a hill west of Pachia Ammos, near the road connecting Agios Nikolaos to Ierapetra, 19km east of Agios Nikolaos. The city flourished in the Minoan period and is the most complete excavated Minoan town in Crete. Because of its good conservation, it was named as the "Pompeii of Crete". The excavation of Gournia was implemented by an American Archaeology Group, headed by Harriet Boyd, in 1901-1904.
The city appears to have flourished in the 1550-1450BC, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1450BC and was finally abandoned around 1200BC. The real name is still unknown, while the name Gournia is taken after the stone and wooden bowls – basins (urns) that were found in the archaeological site before starting the excavations.
It is worth strolling in the paved streets of the archaeological site and see how a small Minoan town was. The houses have been excavated and revealed the walls, the stairs leading to second floors, the storage rooms and workshops. Archaeologists found various tools (chisels, hooks, hammers, pots, etc) that help us imagine the everyday life of the Minoans. It is striking that there was sewerage system.
At the top of the hill, a little palace has been found, along with a large courtyard (the market), a primitive theater and a temple dedicated to the goddess of snakes. The cemetery of Gournia has been found in Sfougaras position, quite close to the sea.