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Matala%20village
Matala village
Messara, South - West Iraklion
at 0km (NE)
Matala (GR: Μάταλα) was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys and a former fishing community which has developed into a modern holiday center. It is located 4 km south-west of the village of Pitsidia and 75 km from Iraklion. It is built on the coast line of the Messara bay inside a small and picturesque inlet. During the 60's the caves of Matala were hosting a hippie commune.

Kommos%20beach%20and%20arch%2E%20site
Kommos beach and arch. site
Messara Bay, Iraklion
at 2.3km (NE)
One of the most beautiful sandy beaches of Crete, extends from a clump of rocks riveted in the shallow waters in the south to the Kalamaki settlement in the North. In Minoan times there used to be the ancient port of Phaistos. The antiquities lie just a few meters away from the sea.

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Odigitria%20monastery
Odigitria monastery
Messara plain, South - East Iraklion
at 4.9km (SE)
The monastery of Odigitria is a monastery of great importance and historical value and one of the oldest in Crete. It is located at the west edge of the Asterousia mountains at an altitude of 250 m.
The monastery was surrounded by walls, part of them still stands. The temple of the monastery is dedicated to the assumption of Holly-Mother and to the Saint Apostles (Peter & Paul). Inside the temple there are valuable frescoes, icons of famous painters and iconostasis.
The monastery is connected with the legendary freedom fighter 'Ksopateras' (1788 - 1828)
In the area of the monastery at Agioi Eftihianoi was found an ancient (Early Minoan) cemetery.

Sivas%20village
Sivas village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 6km (NE)
Its 1000 years history comes to life for the visitor, who has the chance to admire its monuments, and old houses, perfectly preserved through the centuries. In the village square , you can sit and enjoy your coffee in the traditional coffee shop, while children can play in the playground next to the school. You can also visit the church of Agios Ioannis in the same square. There are quite few rooms for rent in the village and tavernas serving traditional Cretan dishes.

Agiofaraggo
Agiofaraggo
South - coast Iraklion
at 7.7km (S)
Agiofaraggo (GR: Αγιοφάραγγο the gorge of Saints) is a small gorge at the southern shores of Heraklion close to the village and the beach of Kaloi Limenes and 6 kilometers south of the Monastery of Odigitria.


Agia%20Triada%20Arch%2E%20Site
Agia Triada Arch. Site
Archaeological Site in Messara, S-W Iraklion
at 8.3km (NE)
The "Royal Villa" at Ayia Triada which is situated very close to Phaistos, was built in about 1550 BC. i.e. just before the new palace at Phaistos, and was destroyed by fire in l450 BC, like all other important Minoan centres. It succeeded the first palace at Phaistos as the economic and administrative centre of the regions depriving the new palace there of this role, and appears to have had connections with Knossos. The two wings, with an open-air space between them, consisted of groups of interconnecting rooms (polythyra), storerooms and stairways. On the site of the ruins, a Mycenaean megaron, the so-called "Agora" and an open - air shrine were subsequently built.
In the villa's disaster layer from the fire in 1450 BC, excavation revealed a valuable group of exceptional works of art, precious materials, records in Minoan script and seals. The famous black serpentine vessels, the "Harvesters' Vase", the "Boxers' Vase" and the "Chieftain ‘ s Cup", the wall paintings depicting the natural landscape, the sarcophagus, the bronze and clay figurines of worshipers and the copper ingots from the Treasury are among the most noteworthy findings.

Agios%20Georgios%20Phalandras
Agios Georgios Phalandras
Phaistos Palace
at 8.4km (NE)
The church of Agios Georgios (St. George GR: Αγιος Γεώργιος) Phalandras stands a little to the south from the Palace of Phaistos on the road to Agios Ioannis village. The church was the monastery church of the Orthodox male monastery of the same name, dated to the early Venetian period (16th century), which operated normally until its dissolution in 1821. The ruins of the fortified building complex around the church were still visible until the first decades of the 20th century.

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Phaistos
Phaistos
Palace and Archaeological Site
at 8.7km (NE)
The archaeological site, the palace, the findings - The Festos Disc. According to mythology, Phaistos (or Festos) was the seat of king Radamanthis, brother of king Minos. It was also the city that gave birth to the great wise man and soothsayer Epimenidis, one of the seven wise men of the ancient world.Excavations by archaeologists have unearthed ruins of the Neolithic times (3.000 B.C.).

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Voroi%20village
Voroi village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 9.9km (NE)
Vori is a beautiful, traditional village of the county of Pirgiotissas in the Messara Valley. It is located 60 km south of Iraklion and in the western part of the Messara Valley. The village stretches in a slope, by the side of a small river. The archaeological site of Phaistos is 2 km to the south and the coast of Messara 4 km to the west.

The%20Museum%20of%20Cretan%20Ethnology
The Museum of Cretan Ethnology
Voroi, Messara, Iraklion
at 10.2km (NE)
The exhibited objects in the Museum come from all over Crete. These objects show that the folk culture of Crete is characterized by an amalgam of influences in which Minoan (2000-1000 BC), Archaic (1000-500 BC) and Byzantine models prevail, especially in agriculture, stock breeding, pottery and basketry.

Galia%20village
Galia village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 14.3km (NE)
Gallia is one of the oldest villages of the area. It is mentioned as a location in the Venetian records as early as 1577, and as a village with 120 residents since 1583. The renaissance tower in the village (still imposing although rundown) and the water fountains in the Kapeloniana area are proof of the passing of the Venetians. Part of the village, called Monohoro, is mentioned as early as 800 A.D.

Vreli%20%28Agios%20Antonios%29%20village
Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Mires, Messara Valley
at 15.1km (NE)
It is located north of Mires close to a small gorge, with springs and covered with trees. There are many churches in the village the most important one being the church of Agios Nikolaos, a domed church dated to the 13th century. The walls of the temple are hand painted with biblical scenes and pictures of saints

Ancient%20Levin
Ancient Levin
Lentas, South Iraklion
at 17.2km (SE)
The first habitation of the site dates from the Neolithic and Early Minoan period (3rd millenium B.C.). In the late Classical period (beginning of the 4th century B.C.) the Gortynians established the sanctuary of Asklepios at the harbour. During the tremendous earthquake of 46 B.C. the city was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. In the Early Christian and Byzantine periods, a small settlement developed and the basilica was erected. The most important monuments of the site are:
The Temple of Asklepios., the "Treasury"., the Fountain, a large, three-aisled basilica, an Early Minoan settlement (2600-2000 B.C.), the West Stoa, the North Stoa, the Nymphaion and two large, mud-brick cisterns.

Great%20Basilica
Great Basilica
Gortyn archaeological site
at 19.3km (E)
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.

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Varsamonero%20monastery
Varsamonero monastery
Voriza, South - West Iraklion
at 19.4km (NE)
Close historical bonds link this monastery to that of Vrontisiou. The Varsamonerou Monastery lies in the surrounding fields of the village Voriza, 54.5 kms from Heraklion. The monastery is abandoned and, though its cells have been destroyed, its church has some of the most remarkable wall paintings in Crete.

Gortyn%20Ancient%20town
Gortyn Ancient town
Messara, Iraklion South
at 19.5km (NE)
Located in the valley of Messara, Gortys or Gortyn (GR: Γόρτυς or Γόρτυνα) is a must visit for all visitors to Crete. It was inhabited during Bronze Age times, but its rise to glory came almost a millennium after the downfall of the 'Minoans'. Gortyn was a prosperous city from around the middle of the 5th century BC through to the early 9th century AD, when it was finally destroyed by the Saracens (824AD), never to be rebuilt.

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Saint%20Titus%20Church
Saint Titus Church
Gortyn archaeological site
at 19.5km (NE)
Saint Titus church at Gortyn bears the name of the Apostle Titus, attendant of Apostle Paul, who was appointed as the first Christian bishop of Crete. It is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Crete. The name was given to the ruined church by the excavators in the beginning of the 20th c., as they considered it to be the site of the saint’s martyrdom. After the discovery of the new Great Early Byzantine Basilica, just outside the village Mitropolis, its excavators have proposed that as the original bishopric basilica, as it is a century earlier than this, which in the local tradition is named and celebrated after Virgin Mary, “Kera”.
The church has the plan of a three aisled inscribed cross with a low vault. It has been built of ashlar limestone. It has a narthex to the west and five entrances three of which form the trivelum with two columns. There were pillars instead of columns. Its architectural features date its foundation in the 2nd half of the 6th c. AD.

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Hippodrome
Hippodrome
Gortyn archaeological site
at 19.5km (E)
The Hippodrome was located in the south part of the city of Gortyn, and was surrounded by columns. The central section was 374 metres long and 60 metres wide. Our information on the site is insufficient for the reason that there was never a systematic survey, or even a small excavation. What we see today of this magnificent monument are only some parts of columns and capitals.

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The%20Temple%20of%20Apollo%20Pythios
The Temple of Apollo Pythios
Gortyn
at 19.6km (E)
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.

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Praetorium
Praetorium
Gortyn
at 19.7km (E)
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.

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