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Gortyn%20Acropolis
Gortyn Acropolis
Gortyn archaeological site
at 15.4km (N)
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.

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Moires%20town
Moires town
Messara plain, South - East Iraklion
at 15.9km (NW)
The administrative center of the Messara Valley. Moires (GR: Μοίρες) is the biggest town in the Messara Valley with a population of approximately 5000 people. It has a police station, magistrate's court,post office, public PTT office, health center, and offices of most Greek major banks.

Agiofaraggo
Agiofaraggo
South - coast Iraklion
at 16.4km (W)
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.

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Sivas%20village
Sivas village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 17.1km (NW)
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.

Martsalo%20Gorge%20%26%20Beach
Martsalo Gorge & Beach
South - coast Iraklion
at 17.1km (W)
Martsalo (GR: Μάρτσαλο, Mártsalo) is located on the mass of the Asterousia Mountains between Kefali (Cape Lithino) and Agiofarago. It is an impressive gorge about two kilometers long, which belongs to the hermitages of the Holy Monastery of Odigitria. Inside the gorge there is rich vegetation as well as a small palm forest in the middle of its route. The impressive cliffs are home to a large number of caves (similar to eagles' nests) inhabited by many of the area's ascetics. Gorge Martsalo is particularly steep and rough and ends at the Libyan Sea, where there is a small protected cove with a sandy- pebbly beach.

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Vreli%20%28Agios%20Antonios%29%20village
Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Mires, Messara Valley
at 17.5km (N)
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

Kaliviani%20monastery%20%20
Kaliviani monastery
Moires, Messara
at 18km (NW)
The monastery of Panagia Kaliviani is located at the 59th km on the road Iraklion-Phaistos. The monastery was built during the second Byzantine period. The small Byzantine chapel was painted with frescoes but most of them are today destroyed. The chapel was deserted until, during the Turkish occupation in 1873, an old small icon of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother was miraculously found there.and the monastery became a place of worship.

Galia%20village
Galia village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 18.6km (NW)
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.

Pitsidia%20village
Pitsidia village
Messara, Iraklion South
at 19km (NW)
The village of Pitsidia is located 65 km southwest of Iraklion at an altitude of 80 m a.s.l, just before the magnificent bay of Messara. The village with aproximately 700 inhabitants is the oldest village of the area and is refered (by S. Spanakis) that it was the place where the soldiers of Nikiforos Fokas, commander of the Byzantine army, settled. The army, famous for its bravery, came from Pisidia of the south Asia Minor, and this is probably the origin of the name Pitsidia.

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Phaistos
Phaistos
Palace and Archaeological Site
at 19.1km (NW)
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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West%20Facade
West Facade
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The main facade of both the Old and the New Palace looked onto the West Court, off which the official entrances to the Palace opened. The facade which can be seen on a lower level belongs to the Old Palace(1900- 1700 BC). It is indented according to the rules of Minoan architecture. The lower part of the walls is constructed of massive limestone blocks (orthostats). The entrance is set into a recess in the SW corner of the court. lt consisted of a monumental porch with a large central column from which a splendid corridor, paved with gypsum slabs, led to the Central Court. This old entrance is now interrupted by the buildings of the New Palace.
Higher up and 7 metres further back is the facade of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). It is constructed of large ashlars and also has deep indentations and protrusions. There are two entrances leading to the interior of the Palace. The main entrance is on the north and consists of a monumental staircase leading to the Propylaea. The other is deeply recesed and leads via a wide corridor to the Oentral Court, crossing the West Wing of the Palace


Propylaea
Propylaea
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The impressive staircase starting in the west Court led to the monumental Propylaea, the principal and most impressive entrance to the New Palace (1700-M50 BC). The portico consists of a central column - only the base is preserved today - flanked by pilasters. There followed a solid wall with a double opening and a colonnade of three columns. The floors of the Propylaea complex were paved with gypsum slabs which gave it a sumptuous appearance. The colonnade opens onto a large open-air light-well through which rainwater drained away.
There are two accesses from the Propylaea to different parts of the Palace. The first access, in the hall with the colonnade, led via a staircase and corridors to the Peristyle and thence to the "Royal Apartments".
The second, in the SE corner of the light-well, led to an inner staircase which ended in the Antechamber of the Magazines and the Central Court of the Palace.


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Magazine%20of%20the%20Giant%20Pithoi
Magazine of the Giant Pithoi
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The magazines of the Old Palace(1900-1700 BC) occupied a large part of the West Wing immediately to the east of the West Court and extended to the lower terrace. Apart from their use as storage areas, they also appear to have housed some of the workshop activities of the Old Palace. Today most of the magazines have been filled in.
One of these is the magazine with the giant pithoi (storage jars) decorated with discs and rope patterns in relief. Just east of this is a well-preserved quern installation for grinding grain. There is another well-preserved Old Palace magazine under the floor of the light-well in the Propylaea.



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West%20Magazines
West Magazines
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The north part of the West Wing is occupied by she large complex of the palace magazines or store rooms. It consists of the antechamber, the corridor of the magazines and the magazines themselves. The first wide hall forms the antechamber of the magazines and opens off the Central Court via a doorway with a central column and two pillars. Two other columns inside the room supported the roof. Under the floor of the antechamber was discovered the Archive Room of the 0ld Palace (l900 - 1700 BC), containing over 6.000 clay sealings, i.e. seal impressions on balls of clay, which were used to monitor the movement of the goods in the magazines(fig 1).
A double doorway with a central pillar on the west side of the antechamber led to the corridor of the magazines, with a second central pillar supporting the roof of the corridor. To right and left were the ll magazines, in which the goods produced by the Palace were stored. The westernmost magazine, on the north side of thecorridor, which has been roofed over by the excavators contains tall pithoi (storage jars), one of which bears an inscription in Linear A (fig.2)



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West%20Wing%20Shrines
West Wing Shrines
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
Almost the whole south part of the West Wing was dedicated to the shrines of the New Palace. The main architectural types of shrine are the "Bench Shrine" and the "Lustral Basin".
The first type consists of small, rectangular rooms with low benches running round the walls, perhaps to support cult objects and figurines of the deity. On some of them were found female figurines, ritual vessels and "Offering Tables" (small altars). On the walls of some rooms are incised sacred symbols, such as the double Axe and the star.
The "lustral Basin" type consists of rooms which are set somewhat lower than the surrounding structures, with a few steps leading down into them.
The were usually lined with slabs of gypsum, giving them a highly - finished appearance. Although it is doubtful that these structures contained water, it is thought that they were used for purification rituals.
There is a third type of Minoan shrine in the S-E part of the shrine wing. Its is a room with central pillars (Square, stone - built columns) thought to be a cult area, similar to the "Pillar Crypts" of the Palace of Knossos, where the sacred pillar was worshiped by pouring libations.


Central%20Court
Central Court
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The great Central Court is a basic architectural element of Minoan palaces and the core around which the different wings are set. It was the focus of the economic, social and religious activity of the palace, the setting for events which could be watched from the windows and balconies.
The Central Court of the Palace of Phaistos was built in the time of the Old Palace (1900-1700 BC). It was also used in the New Palace with minor alterations to its orientation and dimensions. It is a rectangular paved, open area with colonnades running along both its long sides, with alternating pillars and columns which supported open colonnades.On the west side of the court, two adjoining rectangular rooms with benches, open on to the Central Court, may have been "sitting rooms" for the spectators watching the events taking place in the Central Court. In the east colonnade of the court, some stone-built benches next to a water cistern may have formed islands of rest and recreation.
The stepped structure in the NW corner of the court may have been an altar for the ceremonies which were held here.
The pithoi (large storage jars) in front of it were found in buildings founded in the site of the Great Court after the destruction of the Palace.

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North Wing
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The North Wing is one of the most important wings of the Palace, as it is believed to have housed the "Royal Apartments". lt also contained sets of rooms, inner courtyards, corridors and staircases leading to the upper floor. The splendid gateway on the north side of the Central Court led to the complex of the "Royal Apartments". It is framed by two magnificent wooden half-columns, now reconstructed.
On either side of the gateway are two niches decorated with wall paintings, in which the gate guards may have stood. Behind the gateway is a wide corridor with a drainage duct, which led to an inner courtyard, which in turn led to the "Royal Apartments" complex.
The term "Royal Apartments" was established by the excavators, who followed the terminology applied by Evans to similar areas at Knossos. They are undoubtedly official apartments with particular architectural features, such as open balconies and colonnades, polythyra (pier-and-door partitions), lightwells and "Lustral Basins". The gypsum slab flooring and colourful wall paintings gave these apartments a particularly luxurious appearance.



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Peristyle
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The open peristyle court was one of the most elegant inner courtyards of the New Palace. It consisted of an impressive peristyle with four columns on each side supporting the corresponding colonnades, while the central area remained open. The same construction appears to have continued on the upper floor, with a second row of columns.
The peristyle court was a focal point of the Palace with access routes leading from here to the "Royal Apartments", the Propylaea and the Central Court.
The ruins visible on a lower level in the centre of the peristyle belong to a house of the Prepalatial settlement (3200-1900 BC).



King%27s%20Megaron
King's Megaron
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The northernmost of the "Royal Apartments" has been identified as the King's Megaron and bears a striking resemblance to the corresponding "King's Megaron" at the Palace of Knossos. It consists of a spacious central hall with impressive polythyra (pier - and - door partitions) on the north and east sides. The east polythyron communicates with a second room with two columns, which opens onto a large light-well to the east. The gypsum slab flooring with red plaster filling, the interstices, gave the whole complex a particularly sumptuous air.
The north side of both rooms opens onto a spacious colonnade with columns set far apart, offering a magnificent view of Mount Psiloritis and the sacred Kamares Cave. A long corridor at the back of the polythyron room leads to the impressive "Lustra1 Basin" of the Megaron. The whole apartment was decorated with colourful wall paintings depicting linear and plant motifs.

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Queen%27s%20Megaron
Queen's Megaron
Phaistos Palace
at 19.1km (NW)
The southernmost of the "Royal Apartments" ofPhaistos has been identified as the Queen'sMegaron. It consists of a beautiful, spacioushall with a double colonnade opening ontoa light-well. The floors are paved with gypsum slabswith red plaster filling the interstices. Gypsumwas also widely used for the benches runningaround the walls of the Megaron and the facingof the lower part of the walls. The upper walls aredecorated with frescoes depicting plant motifs. Twobeautiful rhyta (libation vessels) were found here: one is decorated with the cult symbols of thedouble axe and sacral knot, while the other bears areed pattern.
The two staircases to west and north led to the upper floorof the Megaron and the peristyle, where one of the mainentrances to the "Royal Apartments" was located.


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