The main acropolis of Gortyna was located on Agios Ioannis hill, to the northwest of the Agora. Acropolis can be accessed from its west side driving through Ambelouzos village to the direction of Gergeri. At a spot around 1.6 kms from Gortyna parking there is a footpath (not clearly signposted and maintained) that leads to the top of the hill. Once at the top you'll be rewarded by the magnificent view to the whole area and the archaeological site itself. The site was first inhabited in the Neolithic era and again at the end of Minoan times (1200 BC). Since then it was continuously inhabited until the Middle Byzantine period. From the first settlement only parts of walls, floors and hearths were preserved. In the 10th century BC a Geometric settlement was established fortified by a polygonal wall with towers at the corners. At the end of the 7th c. A.D., a small tripartite temple, dedicated to Athena Poliouchos was founded at the south side of the hill. From this temple some very important architectural sculptures were excavated. During the Early Byzantine period (5 - 6th century AD), a basilica was erected over the ruins of the geometric/archaic temple and, in the time of the emperor Heraclios (7th century A.D.) the last fortification with a castle in the center was built which still survives but in a very poor condition.
The Temple of Apollo Pythios (Pythian Apollo) located in the center of the ancient Agora, was excavated in 1887 and was the largest temple and the religious center of ancient Gortyn until the introduction of Christianity and the founding of the basilica of St. Titus around 500 AD. The first building of the seventh century. BC was a four-sided enclosure with four wooden pillars in the center to support the roof. The exterior walls and stairs of the crepis were covered with archaic inscriptions. In the Hellenistic period a monumental anteroom was added while columns with inscriptions were placed between the pillars. Alterations and additions were made during the Roman period. Outside the temple was built a magnificent altar on a stepped base while in the west of the temple was built a small theatre. In the middle Byzantine period in the vicinity of the temple, which had been abandoned, were built houses and aqueducts. Many finds have been made in the temple among which the colossal statue of Apollo Pythios and many inscriptions with administrative and law content of the Archaic and Hellenistic period. Dates: 7th c BC; Hellenistic; 2nd c AD.
The Praetorium was the seat and residence of the proconsul of Crete. It is divided into two parts: the administrative section, in which the central building is the basilica, and the more "private" sector. The preserved ruins are dated to the 2nd century A.D. and seem to have been repaired in the 4th century A.D. This totally excavated building is the largest in the whole City of Gortyn. The earliest constructions have suffered successive alterations in a long period of eight centuries. New structures were erected on the ruins of the earlier sometimes incorporating parts of them. In the 1st c AD the Praetorium consisted of a peristyle court 1000 sq.m. and large halls to the north and west. This first Praetorium was destroyed by an earthquake in the time of the Emperor Trajan (early 2nd c AD). It was reconstructed and a large Thermai complex was built at its east side. Some years later a large temple dedicated to the Augusts was built further at the east part. To the west of the Thermai the juridical basilica continued to function under a judge’s responsibility according to the inscriptions found there, and statues of the emperors and other officers were still standing there. All these famous buildings were destroyed by the large earthquake in 365 AD. In 383 the consul Oecumenius Asclepiodotus Dositheus, agreeing with the capital of the empire, took care of the construction of the new Praetorium.
The sanctuary of the Egyptian deities (1st-2nd centuries A.D.) is the only one, in the whole island, which is dedicated to the Egyptian gods Isis, Serapis and Anubis - Hermes although it is known that those gods are worshiped in other cities. The sanctuary consists of quadrilateral nave, arcade on the west, underground crypt in the south and a cistern outside east of nave. In the central alcove stood the statue of Serapis and the side statues of Isis and Hermes - Anubis. In the southern part of the temple was oblong space, underground crypt purification and a small cictern. The final construction phase of the temple dates to the 1st / 2nd century. AD, in accordance with dedicatory inscription.
The oldest theater of Gortyna was on the south slope of the Profitis Ilias hill (Acropolis), opposite to the Odeum. Its cavea was partly cut into the rock and partly built. Its scene was built at the west side of the large court of the Agora, which covered the river Lethaios with a flat bridge. This scene, which H. Belli saw in the 16th c AD, was 120 m long and was already destroyed in 19th c. AD. On the proscenium there was an inscription of Julia Augusta and it was decorated with statues and relies, among which there was the statue of Europe on the Bull, with broken legs and head.This statue, as described by Admiral Spratt, is now kept in the British Museum and is dated to the 2nd c BC.
It lies at the south eastern part of the city and it is considered to be largest of all theaters in Gortyna. Although it is not yet excavated, it is believed that it had a two storeyed stage and its cavea was supported by 56 arches. The statue of the seated philosopher that we see next to the exhibition hall of the archaeological site was found here.
Agios Thomás (GR: Αγιος Θωμάς) lies at 530 m above sea level. It is 30 km away from Heraklion and has a panoramic view over the whole area to the SE of Aghia Varvara. Agios Thomas is a very old village and the first reference we have of it, is in a document of 1371, where it is quoted as a feudal property of Petrus de Medio, and again in a document dated 1380. Later, it figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1881, and in 1900, it figures as part of the Megali Vrisi municipality, with 344 inhabitants. From 1920, it figures in all the censi as a community with a continuously growing number of inhabitants. Nowadays there are over 800 inhabitants. Agios Thomas owes its name to the tripartite domed church, which still preserves part of its original wall paintings. The north nave is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the south one to Saint Charalambos and the centre one to the patron saint, Saint Thomas; the church is located in the centre of the village. Of the 40 churches that are said to be in the village, the visitor should make a point of visiting the following: Aghia Paraskevi, with remains of wall paintings, Michail Archangelos, with wall paintings of the 12th century, Aghios Panteleimonas, Aghios Ioannis, and the chapel of Panagia Kardiotissa at the lovely site of Mouzouras. There are a great many caves and cisterns cut out of the rock in the area; the caves were used as graves.The village of Aghios Thomas boasts of two great personalities born there: Kirikas Chairetis Kalamaras and the empirical doctor and fighter Logios, born in 1771. He fought the Turks from 1800 to 1815. He is buried opposite the ancient town of Phaistos. The small settlement of Ardachtia or Argathia, lies 500 m from Agios Thomas. The name Argathia figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. As of 1881, through a mistake in the spelling, it is recorded as Ardachtia. On the verge of collapse, the village was abandoned and has been rebuilt as a neighbourhood of Aghios Thomas, at Plaka.
This unique monument has been excavated in the last thirty years. It is located on the road between the Saint Titos Church and the village Mitropolis. It is the largest early Byzantine basilica in Crete and among the largest in whole Greece. In early Byzantine period it was the cathedral of the city. The first five-aisled basilica was erected here in the early 6th c., in the years of the Emperor Justinian and stood for about 70 years. The central aisle had a mosaic pavement decorated in geometric patterns and animals. It is believed that there were mosaics of stone and glass tesserae on the walls, too. The other aisle had pavements of limestone slabs. The columns were made of white and gray white marble. Of great importance is the pulpit, which resembles that of Saint Sophia in Constantinople. It was a high exedra on low columns and two stairs for ascent and decent. The choirs stood under the exedra. After the destruction of the first basilica in 620 AD, a new basilica was built over its ruins in the time of the Emperor Heraclios. This basilica, following the fortune of the whole city, was destroyed after the strong earthquake of 670 AD.
The Great Nymphaeum (Nymphaion GR: Νυμφαίον), located to the north of Praetorium, was a marble construction with a covered cistern and fountains. Statues of Nymphs stood in the niches. The area of the remains is closed to the public but visitors can see it from a distance.
The Greek Flag | The Greek National Anthem | The Greek emblem The design and colours (blue and white) of the national flag were laid down in January of 1822 at the first National Assembly at Epidauros. On 15 March of the same year the Executive Body (the Government), which had taken over the interim administration of Greece, specified by Decree 540 three types of flag: one land flag and two marine flags, one of which was for the navy and the other for the merchant marine.