Α big and powerful ancient city in eastern Crete, 1 km away in the north of Vai. It was established in the Prehistoric period and probably named after Phoenix or the Curette Itanos. Itanos was first found in Herodotus, described as the home of the rock shells fisherman Corovius who led the Therans to Libya where they founded Kyrini (631 B.C.) when Thera was suffering of drought. Itanos was autonomous in the course of history and for great periods of time was administrating Dragmos, Ampelos and Grammios, the Dionisades, Elasa and Koufonisi (Lefki) islands and the temple of Dictean Zeus which was an important revenue source.
In the "Arbitration of the Magnet's" carνed on a plate οn the wall of the main hall of the TOPLOU Monastery, the people from Itanos were vindicated over the people of Ierapitna regarding the territorial claim of Lefki. Itanos was a big harbour of cross-trade especially to the East. It reached its peak in the classic period as one can assume from the buildings, temples (of Asklepios, Tychi, Athena, etc.) and the silver coins which are genuine pieces of art. The inscriptions found in Itanos are of great significance.
Especially in the Hellenistic time, Itanos was involved in conflicts with the neighbouring cities of Praissos and lerapitna, but it managed to confront them with the help of the Ptolemy's of Egypt without being politically dependent on them. During the Roman time, Itanos kept its powerful position, contributed to the Cretan public and issued its own coins. The city was flourishing towards the first Byzantine period as the many big churches reveal and it is assumed that it was inhabited in the time of the Venetian rule.
Itanos was first traced by the archaeologist ΗaΙbherr. Research was also conducted by Bursian and Demarge, as well as by the French Archaeological School, while today the research has been continued by the Institute of Mediterranean Studies. Many inscriptions, coins, pots, golden earrings etc. were found. According to historical tradition, the inhabitants of Itanos were driven away from the city in the 17th century and founded Sitano.
Nowadays, there are newly built summer houses within the archaeological site. Walking through Ancient Itanos through all these antiquities, the acropolis, the ruins of the Minoan buildings and temples, the inscriptions and bewitching environment is an unprecedented experience.