Ancient sites - Palekastro Kato Zakros Xerokambos | East Crete - Palekastro Kato Zakros Xerokambos | East Crete Mon, 22 Jan 2018 06:24:11 +0200 By en-gb Voila settlement

Voila settlement in ChandrasThe deserted settlement of Voila occupies the north and west sides of the steep hill located on the eastern side of the Armenochantrades plateau. On the southeast side the settlement is protected by the steep cliff. In the north and western sides of the hill, the houses are built like fortifications, while a short wall is protecting the remaining perimeter towards the valley.

The settlement spans below the contemporary road which destroyed many of the archaeological buildings when it was built. Domed warehouses or stables are still preserved in the low external zone while all the houses are built on the slope.

During the Venetian domination over the island, the settlement belonged to the feud of the Salomon family. During their reign they expanded the Aghios-Georgios church which also includes the family tomb of the Salomons. During the Ottoman Empire most of its citizens were ottomans and was also the base of a janizary battalion. The most know commander of the janizary was Jen Ali after whom the tower of the settlement was named. Since the end of the 19th century, the settlement declined and today lies in ruins. The majority of the remaining buildings belongs to the Ottoman Empire era. However, the architecture of the Venetian built edifices is a witnesse to the affluence of the area during their reign.


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Wed, 08 May 2013 16:24:39 +0300
Tripitos Ancient site

Ancient site of TripitosAccording to the evidence of recent excavations it would appear that the site of Hellenistic Sitia is situated at Tripitos, a small headland 3 kms east of Sitia and 15km west of Palekastro village.

On the side of a hill tilted towards the sea, an oblong hole or pit with a floor was discovered measuring 30m x 5.50 x 5. Archaeologists believe that it was used to hoist, protect and repair ships (like a present day ship-builders yard). It is the only confirmed such find in Crete and dates from the Hellenistic period.
A small Hellenistic town with the remains of some dwellings was also recently unearthed at the same site. Archaeologists also found a large fortified wall to the South and many vases, coins, pieces of jewellery and lead weights.

]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Wed, 08 May 2013 16:17:03 +0300
The Palace and the Minoan Settlement of Zakros

Kato Zakros PalaceOpening hours: 8:30 - 3:00 - Tel.: 28430 26897

The first excavation in Kato Zakros was performed by the British D. Hogarth, in 1901. Then, the remains of a Minoan settlement came to the surface, indicating a flourished society. The most important of Hogarth's findings were the about 300 clay stamps on coins, indicating some sort of bureaucratic system of control or a number of commercial affairs.

Some of these stamps originate from Knossos, something that indicates the close relationship of Knossos and Zakros, at least during the 15th century BC. In 1962, the Ephore of Cretan Antiquities N. Platon started a new excavation in the valley of Kato Zakros. The Greek archeologist was convinced that this position was "hiding" something more important than a "naval settlement", as it seemed to be the center of a culture, recognized by the ceramic products of the wider region.

The excavation results were indeed impressive. The excavations revealed a Minoan palace and a settlement surrounding it, dispersed over the slopes of the two hills of the valley. Important findings came to light during the research of the Minoan tombs, most of which were "sheltered" in natural caves, in the gorge of Zakros -that after the findings was renamed as "the gorge of the dead" ("faraghi ton nekron") - but also in other positions, such as in "Mavro Aulaki" southeast from the gulf and "Spiliara", on the north slope of the valley. The palace of Zakros - as it is preserved today- was constructed during the 16th century BC.

It is possible that it replaced an older public building, as indicated by the remains found under the east wing of the palace. Only at this spot it was possible to further excavate, since agricultural acitivity during the 20th century -and before the excavations- had totally destroyed this part of the palace. In terms of architecture, the palace of Zakros has several similarities with the larger palace of Knossos. In Zakrosl like in Knossos, the west wing (the section of the construction west from the central yard) accommodated the chambers of the shrine: the main shrine, next to a ritual room that A. Evans named "Lustral Basin", the treasury of the ritual objects and the majestic chambers of the rituals and the feasts, which in the case of Zakros were located on the ground floor.

The placement of the main spaces of storage of agricultural products, of the palace treasury and of other spaces of processing valuable materials at the west wing, reaffirms the theory that the economic management of the Minoan state was in the hands of a powerful ministry. The east wing, like in Knossos, was probably used as the "accommodation area". The other two wings seem to have been of secondary importance. Laboratories were probably located at the south wing, as in some of the chambers valuable processed, unprocessed or semi-processed materials have been found (such as marble, crystals, ivory, ect). At the north wing there was another "Lustral Basin" which was probably connected with the entrance of visitors in the palace. The central gate of the palace was also the end of a cental road leading to the Minoan port.

The close relationship and the similarities between Zakros and Knossos might lead to the conclusion that the latter was the metropolis of the former. Most of the buildings that form the Minoan settlement were probably built at the same time as the palace. Many of the buildings have "copied" architecture styles from the palace. Almost all the buildings had two floors with one or two stairways connecting the chambers of the two floors. The study of the ceramics had led to the conclusion that the settlement and the palace of Zakros were completely destroyed in 1450 BC. The destruction was probably caused by some natural disaster (an earthquake or the eruption of the volcano of Thira), as it was deserted for a long time and the palace was never re-constructed. Parts of the settlement were later re-inhabited for a short period of time (1400 -1300 BC), but since then the area never managed to re-establish its old glory.

Information: 24th Ephorate Of Prehistoric And Classical Antiquities
(Mon-Fri) 7:00 -14:30
Tel: 28410 22462


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Fri, 22 Apr 2011 09:32:24 +0300
The Minoan town of Palekastro

The Minoan town of PalekastroAt the beach of Palekastro, in the position of Russolakos, a great and big town of the Minoan period was excavated. It flourished during the post-Minoan period but some remains date back to the pre-Minoan period and the mid-Minoan period, mainly tombs with numerous bones very well preserved.

The anthropologists that studied the bones found important information on the body structure of the Minoans, who reportedly had an average body length of 1.60 for men and 1.50 for women. A central road connects with 4 other roads that divide the town in 9 districts.

The houses that face the central road had imposing fronts, while a complete drainage system was functioning in all the districts. In the district B, among others, there was a chamber-manor with 4 lines of columns and a kitchen, a "Lustral Basin", a well, a home shrine, a bath, and an oil storage room, while in other spaces there was an oil press. Many vessels, vases, lamps, ect were also found. Chamber-manor were also found in other districts, while in one district a wine press was found. In another district, the famous in antiquity shrine of Diktaios Zeus was found. At this shrine, Zeus was worshipped until the Roman period.

The pieces of a plate where the hymn of Zeus Diktaios were also found; it is the first hymn to a deity in the ancient world and it is a hymn to peace and life. In the same space the pieces of an ivory figurine, "the masterpiece" of the Minoan civilization as it has been characterized, were discovered and are exhibited at the archeological museum of Sitia. Human activity in the Minoan town of Palekastro suddenly seized, as it happened in Zakros and in other towns of Crete in about 1500 BC, after the horrific eruption of the volcano of Thira.


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Fri, 22 Apr 2011 09:29:55 +0300
Kazarma castle fortress

Kazarma fortressThe castle fortress known today as "Kazarma" (Casa di arma), is the most imposing historical monument in Sitia.

The Kazarma used to be a military and administrative centre which consisted of a Medieval dwelling surrounded by walls. The fortification of the town and of the Kazarma can be dated to the late Byzantine period.

However, pirate raids, the continual uprisings against the Venetian occupation by the local people and the great earthquake all led to the partial destruction of the fortifications until the Venetians themselves were forced to completely destroy them with the intention of rebuilding them. This never happened and in 1651 the town was razed and then occupied by the Turks.

During the Turkish occupation it would appear that the walls were never rebuilt but the Kazarma was restored and evidence of the Turkish extensions can be seen today, for example in the cupolas ("koubedes") on the battlements that form the watch towers. The Kazarma has since been carefully restored and is open to the public offering a panoramic view across the bay of Sitia.

Concerts, plays, lectures and art exhibitions all take place in the Kazarma during the summer months as part of the festival known as "Kornaria".


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Wed, 08 May 2013 16:35:42 +0300
Itanos ancient sites

The ancient sites of ItanosItanos had been one of the most important coastal cities of eastern Crete from the Minoan years until the first Christian era. Nowadays it is known under the name of Erimopolis. Its citizens were dominating throughout the coast of Sitia, from the Samonion cape (today cape Sidero (iron)) to the Erythreon cape (what is today called Goudoura) and the island of Lefki (Koufonisi).

Itanos is also mentioned by Herodotus. When Pythia saw the oracle and told the Thyraeans to make a settlement in Libya, the latter sent emissaries to Crete in order to find guides who would lead them to Libya. The emissaries on their arrival to Itanos met with a laver fisherman who recounted to them how he had once drifted away pushed by the wind to the land of Libya.

In turn they convinced him to guide them there where they ended up funding the colony of Cyrene in 630 B.C. Itanos is also mentioned by Stephanos the Byzantine who reckons that the city's name finds its origins in the Itanos Phoenix. According to him, Itanos was a Phoenician colony controlling the laver and glass trade. It was in this city that the Phoenicians merchants, who traded with Crete, were based.

Numerous laboratories for fish and laver processing, glass making and textiles were also found here. Itanos had always been a Syrio-Phoenician station where Phoenician gods such as Phoenix, Amfion and Tagha were worshiped. The city has been a very important port as it was used as a transportation base between the East and Crete.

Thanks the trade of laver, glass and fish, as well as the great income generated by the Diktaion Zeus temple, Itanos became a rich and prosperous city as one can infer by the great number of temples and luxurious marble structures that have been found here. Still, it was its affluence that led to their subjugation by the Dragmians who before rising up used to be controlled by the people of Itanos. Furthermore, when the Ierapytnians destroyed Praesos, Itanos was contained even further. After the Roman occupation of the whole island, Itanos managed to flourish thanks to seafaring and trade.

The city minted its own currency that had the tridents, fish and even Triton (ancient eastern Cretan deity) as was to be expected by a seafaring city. Many of these coins are described by Sboronos. During the proto-Christian period, several glorious and gallant temples were erected as indicated by their ruins. Itanos was either destroyed in the 9th century A.D. by the Saracens or by the great earthquake in 795 A.D. The city must have been populated once more but was finally looted and utterly destroyed by pirates sometime during the 15th century. Its residents retreated to safer mountainous settlements.

The regime of Itanos was initially monarchy but later became democratic with its own senate and open parliament ("ekklesia tou demou"). Sometime during the 3rd century B.C. there was an attempt to overthrow the aristocratic democracy. The citizens of Itanos asked for help by Ptolemy the Philadelphian of Egypt who sent the general Patroclus the Patron to their aid. In Itanos several sepulchral epigrams from the proto-Christian period have been found. On the transom of the Saint-John's temple one can find an epigram from the 3rd century B.C. describing how Itanios competed and equaled in archery the god of light and music, Apollo.

In 1919 an old tomb was found, covered by two plaques that can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. These plaques were made of locally extracted blue rock. The first epigraph comes from the 2nd century A.D. and consists of 98 verses badly damaged, that describe the conflict between the Itanians and the Ierapytnians over the Diktaeon sanctuary. The other epigraph contains a resolution from the 3rd century B.C. voted by the Itanians thanking the Macedonian general Patroclus the Patron. Itanos is also mentioned with the same name (u-ta-no) in the linear B inscriptions found in Knossos. In the area of Cape Sidero, the people sailing to the East worshipped the gods of the winds, that were later substituted by Poseidon.

]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Sun, 17 Apr 2011 20:49:37 +0300
Hellenistic city of Xerokampos

Hellenistic city of XerokamposRecent surface excavations have proven that the area has been populated since the prehistoric times and is of great archeological interest. In the site of Katsounakia a large Minoan settlement was found but has not been excavated yet. In the hill of Trachelas a sanctuary was also found but had already been desecrated.

Furthermore, in the area of Psile Ammos one can see the ancient stone quarry that was used to build the ancient city. There are also numerous salterns used for sea salt production. They consist of a series of canals and founts that are dug in the rocks of the seashore. Today they are mostly covered by the sand of the beach.

Across from the Kabaloi area one can find a series of islets with installations dating from the post-Minoan era (1500-1300 B.C.). Also in the Farmakokefalo area important excavations started in 1984 by the archeologist N. P. Papadakis. An important Hellenistic city was found which is speculated to be the ancient city Ampelos, spanning throughout the contiguous hill and surrounded by high city walls. Only part of the city-walls is still preserved. Many houses, roads and other findings have come to light uncovering an important part of its history. The city was built sometime during the 5th century B.C. and flourished during the 3rd-2nd century B.C.

There was trade with other Cretan cities and the Dodecanese; especially with Rhodes and Kalymnos. Characteristic findings include lead pellets used by the slingers of the army. The excavation findings are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. Finally, in the centre of the city the small church of Aghios-Nikolaos dating from 1895 can be found.

]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Sun, 17 Apr 2011 21:00:55 +0300
Etia villa and Settlement

Etia villa and settlementEtia probably took its name from the tree Itea (willow) The village seems to have been populated since the Byzantine period as one can see from the remaining churches of Aghios-Ioannis and Aghia-Ekaterini. During the Venetian reign it was on of the largest villages of the area with 563 citizens.

The area was a feud of the Venetian aristocrat Dei Mezzo from the great Dei Mezzo family, which is one of the most populous families of Sitia. Dei Mezzo built the villa that bears its name and is one of the most important Venetian monuments of the Cretan country side.

The building had a rectangular shape with an entry hall covered by arches; as was the main dining hall and the corridor. All the auxiliary structures around the mansion were probably built during the Ottoman reign. Many engravings and the escutcheon of the Dei Mezzo family can also be found.

The villa was built at end of the 15th century, the same time the Toplou monastery was built and it was preserved intact until 1828. The building was surrounded by a big yard and was protected by walls. The main gate was palatial and bore the coat of arms of the Dei Mezzo family. On the eastern side of the yard close to the door, a fountain was found; the water was passed to the basin along the road.


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Wed, 08 May 2013 16:30:10 +0300
Archaeological Park of Petras

Archaeological Park of PetraPetra is a traditional settlement, 1 km east of Sitia. A small tower from the Venetian period can be found there. It bears the name "house of Kornaros" and belonged to the homonym family. On the hill over the tower, a small palace and a settlement have been brought to light by recent excavations. The rooms of the palace were luxuriously adorned and its walls painted with bright colours.

Many pots, vases and epigrams of Linear A and B were found as well. Under the road of the contemporary settlement cyclopean fortifications were found, while in the fringes port installations were also found. In the adjacent hill "head of Petras" (east of the palace towards the sea) a Neolithic settlement is being excavated. Recently, the settlement of Petras has been transformed into an important archaeological park that is worth visiting during the summer months.

Information: 24th Ephorate Of Prehistoric And Classical Antiquities
(Mon-Fri) 7:00 -14:30
Tel: 28410 22462


]]> (Itanos) Ancient sites Wed, 08 May 2013 16:10:25 +0300