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Archaeological Sites
Archaeological sites and Museums Print E-mail

There's quite a long list of archaeological sites and museums in Crete.

General opening hours for archaeological sites, museums and monuments in Crete are:

  • April - September (Summer period): Monday: closed / Tuesday - Sunday: 08.30-19:30
  • 1 November - 31 March (winter period): Monday: closed / Tuesday-Sunday: 08.30-15.00
  • Holidays:
  • 08.30-15.00 Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, Holy Spirit Day, 15 August, 6 January, Shrove Monday, 28 October
  • Good Friday (until 12.00)
  • 1st January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25-26 December: closed

Some archaeological sites and museums might have different opening hours.

Free of charge Entrance:

During the following days, the entrance to all archaeological sites, museums, archaeological collections and monuments is free:

  • All Sundays from November 1st -March 31st
  • All Legal Bank Holidays
  • March 6th, in commemoration of Melina Merkouri
  • April 18, International Monuments Day
  • May 18, International Museums Day
  • June 5, International Day of environment
  • Last Weekend of September, celebration of European Cultural Heritage.
 
Archaeological sites Print E-mail

If you're interested in archaeology or just want to learn more about Cretan history check out the following archaeological sites in Crete.

The popular archeological sites of Minoan time, Phaistos and Agia Triada, are only a few kilometers from Kamilari. The short distance allows you to go and visit these places (especially Phaistos) in the morning or in the evening, before or after the crowded hours.
For Phaistos, we recommend the evening, since the panorama, from the Phaistos hill over the Messara plain, is at its best under the warm light of the descending sun.

Archaeological Sites in Chania

Frangocastello Fortress

In order to protect the small bay near by, from the pirates, it was decided, in 1371, to construct this fortress. It was barely used during the Venetian occupation, and on the eve of the Turkish attack, it was actually abandoned. In 1828 the Cretan rebels occupied the fortress and during the siege that followed, its towers were destroyed.    

Archaeological Sites in Rethymnon

Apodoulou

Three building complexes of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.), while tholos tombs of the Postpalatial period (1380-1200 B.C.) have also been located in the adjacent area.

Armeni

A late Minoan cemetery with tombs carved out of rocks much more reminding the Mycenian tombs than the usual Minoan tholos tombs.

Eleftherna

Recent excavations held at the area brought to light important monuments from a Greek-Roman city

The Fortezza fortress of Rethymnon

This fortress was built from 1573 till 1580 by the Venetians, for the protection of the inhabitants against the Turkish threat. It is starshaped with three gates and six bastions.  

Archaeological Sites in Heraklion

Agia Triada

 2.5-3 km, west of Phaistos, were found the ruins of a luxury villa, which is considered by some as the summer palace of the Phaistos rulers. Certain of the more important pieces are on exhibit in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum – the larnax, the Harvester Vase, and the impeccably painted frescoes – come from the site

Phaistos

63 km southwest of Heraklion and about 78 km southeast of Rethymnon, was the second most important palace-city of Minoan Crete. The residence of the mythical Radamanthes, the palace was also the nucleus of a settlement inhabited since the Neolithic age. The architectural layout is identical to that of Knossos. Here too the rooms are arranged around a court. On the other hand, in contrast to Knossos, the frescoes decorating the walls were relatively scanty, the unpainted floors and walls being covered with a lining of pure white gypsum. The area of this palace was 9,000 sqm.   

Komos

It was the Minoan port of Phaistos - but it's closed to the public today.

Gortys

46 km south of Heraklion. A city that flourished particularly during the Roman era, Gortys was the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It had its origins in the Minoan era, as testified by the ruins of a 16th c. B.C. farmhouse, which has been excavated. The most distinctive monuments are the Praetorium (2nd c. AD.), residence of the Roman governor of the province, and the Nymphaion (2nd c. AD.), where the Nymphs were worshipped; the temple of Pythian Apollo the sanctuary of the Egyptian divinities; and the Odeon, where the famous inscription with the laws of Gortys was found. Plato spoke of these laws, which were written in a Doric dialect and date from the 6th century B.C., with admiration.    

Knossos

5 km east of Heraklion. Inhabited since the Neolithic era. The first palace of Knossos was built around 1900 B.C. Two hundred years later it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt, becoming grander and more luxurious. The final catastrophe occurred about 1500-1400 B.C., according to one theory, with the eruption of the volcano in Santorini. Despite this blow, people continued to live there for another fifty years, until a fire swept through the city circa 1400 B.C. The Minoan palaces were not only the residence of the ruling house, they were also administrative and religious centers for the whole region. The ruins of the capital of the Minoan Kingdom include a hole palace with many rooms, the homes of ordinary people and the cemetery. The palace was a labyrinthine complex built around a central court. This multistoried construction covered an area of 22.000 sqm and, in addition to the royal quarters, also contained places of worship, treasuries, workshops and storerooms.  Frescoes and other finds can be seen in the archaeological museum of Heraklion.

Fourni at Arhanes

Excavations at Fourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until 1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase.

Koules Venetian Fortress

The symbol of Heraklion. The original name of the fortress was «Roca al mare»; it was built by the Venetians, before the construction of the new walls. It was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1303 and took its final shape between 1523 and 1540. (Open daily from 08:30-15:00; closed Mon)

Levina (Lendas)

Excavations brought to light a sanctuary of Asclepios and Minoan vaulted tombs

Malia

34 km. east of Heraklion and 3 km. beyond the summer resort of the same name. Excavations have brought to light a palace similar to the ones at Knossos and Phaistos (also built around 1900 B.C. and abandoned about 1450 B.C.). At Hrissolakos (Pit of Gold), archaeologists also unearthed the districts surrounding the Minoan palace and cemetery. The palace covered an area of about 9.000 sq.m. Many of the objects now on display in Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum were found at Malia.   

Tilissos

14 km southwest of Heraklion lie the ruins of one of the oldest Minoan cities of central Crete, including three large buildings, residences of the local lords.

Vathipetro

19 km south of Heraklion is where the ruins of a large Minoan mansion, a country estate belonging to a local nobleman, were discovered. The ruins include a winepress, olive press, weaving rooms and a possible potter’s kiln.   

Archaeological Sites in Lassithi

Kato Zakros

117 km southeast of Agios Nikolaos is the site of a luxurious Minoan palace, the fourth in significance on the island, which produced a number of important finds, now in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This palace, which covered 7.000 to 8.000 sqm and contained royal apartments, storerooms and various work-shops, and the nearby city were destroyed around 1450 B.C. by a violent earthquake, probably the one that caused a whole section of the island of Santorini to sink into the sea.
Zakros was a major Minoan naval base, which established trading connections with Egypt and Anatolia. It was from here that Minoan farming estates, two sacred peaks, a cemetery and cave tombs have been discovered.   

Spinalonga isle

It is an islet at the entrance of the Elounda bay. In antiquity there was a fortress of the Olounites. In 1579 the Venetians built a mighty fortress there, which remained under their rule even after the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1669. During the last years of the Ottoman occupation, it was a safe refuge of Ottoman families. In 1903, by law of the Cretan government, it was appointed as the place of stay for the lepers of Crete.    

 
Agia Triada Print E-mail

The archaeological site of Agia Triada, 3,5 km from Phaistos, houses the ruins of the luxurious villa, the Small Minoan Palace at Agia Triada. The site is named after the village of Agia Triada that is located next to it and was inhabited until 1897, when the Turks destroyed it. The Minoan name of the site is unknown. Excavations carried out in 1902-1904 brought tholos tombs and a Minoan palace to light here. Some of the most important findings of the Minoan period were excavated in Agia Triada and are currently on display at the Archaelogical museum of Iraklion. These include three engraved clay vessels of exemplary artistic value. Numerous graves were found there including two vaulted tombs. The famous Sarcophagus of Agia Triada was found there.

The site was settled during the neolithic ages as demonstrated by the numerous findings on the area. The Small Palace was built c. 1.600 B.C. and is believed by some historians to have served as the summer residence of the Phaistos honoraries. It was connected to the main palace at Phaistos by a paved road. Civilisation in Agia Triada followed the way of all Minoan sites in Crete. The Palace was destroyed in 1.450 b.c., when the Palaces of Knossos and Phaistos were also destroyed. On the ruins a new splendid palace was built, that was occupied until the Geometric period, when it started serving as a temple.

Today you can still find the church Agios Georgos tou Galata, which has frescoes also of "palaiologos type", that are among the oldest frescoes in Crete. The 2-headed eagle can be seen there, which is the symbol of the Byzantine Empire.

 
Phaistos Print E-mail

Phaistos is the second-largest Minoan palace in Crete after Knossos. Together with Knossos and Cydonia, Phaistos was one of the most important cities of Crete, powerful and independent, with its own coinage. The Phaistos archaeological site is extremely interesting, as large parts of the Minoan New Palace have been discovered, together with other Minoan, Geometric and Hellenistic buildings. It is where that famous Phaistos Disk was found, bearing the as-yet-undeciphered writing which remains one of the great archaeological mysteries.

The Minoan palace of Phaistos corresponds to a flourishing city which arose in the fertile plain of the Messara in prehistoric times, from circa 6000 BC to the 1st century BC, as archaeological finds confirm. The small Palace served as a luxury residence and consists of two sections, one section stretching towards the north, the other towards the west.

 

On your right just before arriving on Phaistos car park, you can find the first Xth century church of Agios Georgios Theotokou (also named Agios Georgios Falandras, Falandra being the name of the area). It's a current church from the Venetian period, which initially was a monastery. It was founded by Agios Ioannis o Xenos, a man from Sivas, who apparently had built most of the churches of the area, and later became a saint. There is a sign with further explanations in front of the church.

 
Komos Beach Print E-mail

Another of the most important archaeological sites in Heraklion Prefecture is that of Komos, on the beach of the same name and also worth a visit with the light of a beautiful sundown. Komos was the main seaport of Phaistos and Agia Triada in 1650-1250 BC. Excavations at Komos have brought to light a Minoan coastal town with large public buildings.

 
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