Gortyna was one of the oldest and strongest cities in Crete during the prehistoric and historic period. The population of ancient Gortyna is believed to be 300.000 people. The Gortynians occupied Phaistos during the 3rd century B.C. During the Roman period reached the peak of its glory and it was the capital of Crete.
Gortyna was the first city of Crete to accept Christianity, and maintained its glory until 828 A.D. when it was occupied and destroyed by the Saracens. Since then it was never inhabited again. The most important monuments of the ancient Gortyna are the ruins of the acropolis and the Odeum. The odeum of the ancient city was the place where parts of the great Law Code of Gortyna was discovered.
The Gortynan Law was inscribed on stones. Four series of inscribed stones are preserved today, which constitute relics of great importance for the study of the epigraphy and Law of the time. The inscription is in a Dorian dialect and it was written at the end of the 6th century B.C.