The imposing Minoan palaces and the rest of the constructions developed between 2000 BC and 1400 BC. Around 1700 BC, the Minoan cities were levelled by an unverified factor, probably the eruption of Santorini volcano. The palaces were rebuilt, but the destruction of the large Minoan centers by the Mycenaeans around 1400 BC was the starting point for the decline.
The Minoan superpower was irreparably shaken, could not recover and eventually faded in the following centuries, allowing the Achaeans and the Dorians to conquer the island.
The residents of the coastline, who for the first time felt that an external enemy threatened their island, were withdrawn in the most inhospitable and craggy peaks. This was the outset for the so-called Dark Age (1200 BC - 800 BC), when towns were built in the most inaccessible, naturally fortified locations.
Even today, archaeologists have not confirmed what forced the Minoans to leave their fertile land and build impregnable cities atop windswept peaks, such as the imposing settlements at peaks Karfi, Flektro, Kastro near Kavoussi, Azorias, Vrondas, Kastrokefala, Kyrimianos, Fratiani Kefala, etc.
High above the village Frati in South Rethymnon and north of the settlement we meet the Fratiani Kefala hill. This is a very steep hill with cliffs at most of its sides, which has very good views to the surrounding area and was used as a shelter in tough historical times. Kefala was chosen as a place for settling the Minoans during the dark era that followed the Minoan disaster, i.e. between 1200-800BC.
During the dark period of the post Minoan times in Crete many settlements were built on remote mountainous areas, mainly in eastern Crete (Historians call it dark period because they still don’t know the exact reason for this movement). The settlements were built on hard to access, naturally fortified places so as to protect their inhabitants from enemy attacks.
High above the village of Mirthios at Province Agios Vasilies rises the peak Kyrimianos at an altitude of 805 meters. It is an extremely rough and steep place, without trees except for some ancient cypress trees that have been left there to remind us that the mountain range that covers the valley of Agios Vasilios (Kouroupa) is the geological continuity of the White Mountains.
Above the ruined village of Kolokasia in the province of Sfakia, on the southeast side of Asfendou gorge, stands the steep rock Kastri. As evidenced by traces of buildings and part of a fortification wall, Kastri probably was a town built during the Dark Period, just after the collapse of Minoan civilization in the 12th century BC.
Above the steep gorge of Adrianos in the province of Mirabello rises the rocky outcrop of Fortezza. This inhospitable, steep and naturally fortified rock was chosen by the deposed Minoans to form a small town during the so-called Dark Period.