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Sights in Crete, District "Phaistos"

Festos – Phaistos

After the Palace of Knossos Phaistos (pronounced "Festos") is the
second largest Minoan palace in Crete. Originated with the blossoming of the Minoan civilization
in the Phaistos Period from 1900 to 1850 BC, the palace had the same meaning as Knossos. It was several times damaged by earthquakes and a fire, most recently by the big earthquake in 1700 BC.
Phaistos as ruling city on South Crete but was about 180 BC through the eastern
neighboring city Gortyn subject, which became from 67 BC the capital of Crete. Among numerous artifacts the famous "Discus of Phaistos" was found, which still could not be decrypted.
According to legend, the city was founded by King Minos Phaistos and named
after a son or grandson of Heracles (Heros Phaistos).
He later was killed by Idomeneus, the grandson of Minos, the king of Crete.

Entry: 4€, childr. -18y. , students and press are free
April-Oct. 9 am-7 pm winter: 9 am-3 pm daily excl. public holidays.

Agia Triada - Holy Trinity

The Minoan civilization originated in the Messera, from about 2000 to 1450 BC, cities with vast palaces. In the "New-Palace-Era" of 1600-1550 BC a small palace was built on the hill of Agia Triada, also known as the "Minoan Villa." Since the ancient name is not known, the village was named after the small church of Agia Triada of the 14th Century, standing 250m southwest.
Since 1902, excavations last by Italian archaeologists.
According to numerous discoveries, Agia Triada should had been, (possibly summer residence) just as important as "Phaistos" was.
Even 100 years after its creation the "villa" in 1450 BC (as well as the palace of Phaistos) was destroyed by a fire (possibly earthquake). Unlike Phaistos was Ag. Triada but partly rebuilt, and new buildings erected it.
The small chapel, above the yard, built in 1302 - is dedicated the Holy. George (Agios Georgios) .

Entry : Winter: 9 am -3 pm, Apr-Oct: Daily. 10 am - 4 pm, 3 €.
Combi.: Phaistos + Ag. Triada: 6 €, children - 18 y., students + press are free.
Closed on public holidays


On the main road from Heraklion to Mires the historical place Gortys is located.
At present the Dorian immigration Gortys was (before Phaistos) main city of the Messara. With a population of 80,000 it belonged together with Knossos, Eleutherna, Kydonia and Lyktos to the most important and most populous city of the island.
In the 3rd Century BC, the city dominated the southern central Cretefully. 189 BC, Hannibal found asylum here. When Gortys took the side of the Romans, against Knossos, it became after the Roman occupation from 67 BC, for almost a thousand years the capital of Crete.
One of the oldest and most important monuments of Christianity in Crete is the basilica. The city was a center of early Christianity: 59 AD the Apostle Paul preached here and it`s also where 250 AD "Ten Holy Bishops' they died as martyrs. The name of the city Ag. Deka goes back to this event.

Since 1884, the ancient city of Italy and Greece Archaeologists excavated.

Entry: 4€, childr. -18y., students and press are free
April-Oct.: 9am-7pm, winter: 9 am-3 pm, daily excl. public holidays.

Tholos tomb of Kamilari

North of Kamilari is a Minoan cemetery. Here it was found next to simpler graves, two tholos tombs.
You can explore the well-preserved tholos grave is with an inner diameter of 7.65 meters. The grave was built in the older palace period around 1900 BC and used till the newer palace period. In Postpalatial the grave was reused.

It is believed that the grave had a stone roof (Tholos = dome). 1957 it was excavated by the Italian archaeologist Doro Levi. Outside the entrance to the grave there was a paved courtyard
from which you came into a corridor. On both sides were a total of four rooms, used for rituals and as an ossuary.
Beautiful is also the panoramic view of the Messara, ranging to the sea.

Trip: From Kamilari it goes towards Agia Triada, off road on the hill. It is difficult to find, so better ask local residents.

The Minoan harbor "Kommos"

On one of the most beautiful beaches of Crete extend the ruins of Kommos, arguably the most important Minoan harbor on the south coast of Crete. For a long time the port was assumed here, but only since 1976, after suggestions of a German, excavations have performed by the
University of Toronto.

Some believed the harbor in a sheltered bay rather than at a long beach where ships on windy days could not drop anchor.
On the hilltop Central and Late Minoan houses were unearthed, in the south adjacent valley were a courtyard representative with wings and hangars discovered.
In 2007, the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Bern continued with geological investigations.

The area is fenced and not cleared for entry, however, it is easy to see.

Trip: From the village Pitsidia to the Kommos-beach (followng the signs)

Moni Odigitrias

The tower guarded by a massive monastery complex is picturesquely situated in a broad valley at the western end of Asteroussia mountains. The monastery dates from the Venetian period (1204-1645), the main entrance bears the date 1568, the church of the monastery was built in 1618 and renewed several times. Beautiful is above all the view that you have from the platform of the fortified tower, over the monastery buildings and olive groves.
On display are inter alia three out of five beautiful icons (two are in the Museum of Iraklio), the well of Father Angelo, a Cretan ainter of the 15th century originate.
During the period of Ottoman rule the monastery Odigitrias played a very important role. The monk Ioasaf called Xopateras housed there some resistance fighters and in 1828 sent an army from the Turks to kill him. It defended its "fortress" to blood, killing hundreds of Turks and jumped out the window. He is one of the most important heroes of Crete.

Today, the plant is obtained by two monks and church service held.

Way: from Sivas on Listaros. Asphalt road to the monastery.


On the way to Vathy you will pass a turning to "Martsalo".
The cave church is worth a visit and you should definitely drive or walk to it. The path to the cave church first climbs up the left side of the entry to the valley, before plunging quickly into the cave church over a number of stone steps (a bit hard to find). To the left of the samll church are some very spartan retreat cells. In the chapel, there are a few icons.
Once you have visited the Martsalo Gorge you may continue your trip to the beach of Vathi (signed), a wonderful bathing bay with crystal clear water.

Route: Preferably by Jeep, around 45 min: From Sivas, Listaros to the Odigitrias Convent. Take the right exit (signposted).

Moni Kalivianis

The establishments have been constructed recently and remind one of a peaceful village with vegetation, flowers and modern buildings.
Another convent stood at this site many centuries ago. Its traces, however have been lost in time and by mid 19th century nothing else but a humble desolate church, some ruines buildings and a few weedy graves had existed there. The old unknown convent was active in the Venetian times (1204-1645) and was destroyed when the Turks attacked the region in 1646.
Only one ancient small church (14th centrury) with original frescoes is preserved.

Today the monastery contains a school, an orphanage, an old people's home, a weaving and needlecraft workshop and a printing press for the production of ecclesiastical magazines and books.

Trip: 16 km in the west of Gortys on the mainstreet from Timbaki to Mires (Iraklio).

Moni Kardiotissa

The old monastery Virgin Karthiotissa (of the heart) from the14th century and desert today, is situated near the village of Vori and its chuch has fine wall paintings.
The church of the monastery consists of a vestibule (narthex), the main room, a tiny side chapel and the chancel, which originally formed the only part of a small One-room-chapel.
Also from the 14th-Coming century frescoes are characterized by sophisticated and vibrant colors and are among the best preserved in Crete. In Kera Kardiotissa there was a miraculous icon, which according to legend was stolen from the Turks and taken to Constantinople, but of himself returned to the monastery.

Trip: Follow the street to Kalocherafitis - don't miss the turn-off (right hand side). Sandy and stony road!

Moni Valsamonero

The Monastery was built during the first centuries of the venetian occupation. There are incised inscriptions since 1332. The northern aisle was the first to be built; the rest, as well the exonarthex, were added later.
The nothern aisle is dedicated to the Virgin, the southern to St. John the Precursor and dated in 1400-1428 and the lateral to St. Phanourios*, whose frescoes were painted in 1438 by the Cretan painter Constantinios Ricos. The church's frescoes are very important and well preserved.

*Note: You will read at signs Moni Valsamonero or as well Moni Phanouios.

Trip: Follow the mainstreet from Zaros to Kamares - don't miss the turn-off (left hand side). Sandy am stony road!

Moni Vrondissi / Ag. Antonios

Ther are documents concerning the Monastery since 1400. It was one of the most important monastic and spiritual centres of Crete. It was a centre of the revolution of 1866 against the Turks and, as a result, it was greatly damaged.
The Monastery's Katholicon is a two-aisled church dedicated to St. Antonius and the Apostle Thomas.
The nothern aisle is posterior to the rest of the church. The frescoes as well the 15 th century portable icons of the painter Angelou are unique. In the Monastery's entrance, one can see a 15 th century monumental fountain with relief decoration of Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately it's strictly forbidden to make photos inside of the church.

*Note: You will read at signs Moni Vrondissi or as well Moni Ag. Antonios.

Trip: Follow the mainstreet from Zaros to Kamares - don't miss the turn-off (right hand side). Asphalt road!

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