Archaeological sites and Museums in Crete
Opening Hours for Archaeological Sites, Museums and Monuments in Crete
- April - September (Summer period): Monday: closed / Tuesday - Sunday:
- 1 November - 31 March (winter period): Monday: closed / Tuesday-Sunday:
- 08.30-15.00 Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, Holy Spirit Day, 15 August,
6 January, Shrove Monday, 28 October
- Good Friday (until 12.00)
- 1st January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25-26 December: closed
Some archaeological sites and museums might have different opening hours.
Free of charge Entrance:
During the following days, the entrance to all archaeological sites, museums,
archaeological collections and monuments is free:
- All Sundays from November 1st -March 31st
- All Legal Holidays
- March 6th, in commemoration of Melina Merkouri
- April 18, International Monuments Day
- May 18, International Museums Day
- June 5, International Day of environment
- Last Weekend of September, celebration of European Cultural Heritage.
Archaeological Sites and Museums in Crete
||One of the most important cities of ancient (7th c. B.C.) western
Crete. Aptera was built on a site 15 km. from Chania, south of Souda
bay, near the village of Megala Horafia, which had a view of the whole
plain of Chania.
The city walls still standing today are reminiscent of the Cyclopean
walls of Tiryns and Mycenae. One can also see the remains of a small
1st c. B.C. temple of Demeter, a Roman theatre and the enormous vaulted
cisterns of the Roman period according to one source they were
used for grain storage preserved in excellent condition.
||This town, the port of Polyrrhenia, lay to
the west of it, in the base of the extreme northwest peninsula
of the district of Chania. The ruins-remains of Cyclopean walls,
tombs, house foundations, sculptures carved out of the rocks, most
notably a throne are found near
the village of Koutri.
|Fort Firkas is by the Venetian port of Chania. Firkas
(military unit) was built in 1629 and is considered a significant
historic monument for Crete. In February 16th 1897, the flag of
the Great Powers was raised here, pronouncing Crete's autonomy.
At the same place, 16 years later, on December 1st 1913, Eleftherios
Venizelos witnessed the island's union with the rest of Greece.
Today, the fort houses the city's Naval Museum and a small, summer
||In order to protect the small bay near by, from the
pirates, it was decided, in 1371, to construct this fortress. It was
barely used during the Venetian occupation, and on the eve of the
Turkish attack, it was actually abandoned. In 1828 the Cretan rebels
occupied the fortress and during the siege that followed, its towers
After 25 years, Kissamos in western Crete has finally found a place to house its archaeological treasures. The exhibits provide a view of local history through the ages, from prehistoric times to late antiquity and the Early Christian period.
||The site was the religious centre of the cities in
south-west Crete. It flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The most important monuments of the site are:
The Temple of Asklepios, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Part of a Roman theatre.
Rock-cut and built chamber tombs.
||The ruined walls and acropolis of Polyrrhenia lie 49 km west of
Chania, near Selti or Paleokastro. At Kria Vrissi, near Kissamos (Kastelli)
, are the remains of a Roman aqueduct. Polyrinnia, an important ancient
western Cretan city, was founded with the help of the Achaeans, who
succeeded the Minoans as overlords of the island.
||Three building complexes of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.),
while tholos tombs of the Postpalatial period (1380-1200 B.C.) have
also been located in the adjacent area
||A Minoan cemetery with tombs carved out of rocks has been unearthed.
||Recent excavations held at the area brought to light important monuments
from a Greek-Roman city
Fortezza fortress of Rethymnon
||This fortress was built from 1573 till 1580
by the Venetians, for the protection of the inhabitants by the
Turkish threat. It is starshaped with three gates and six bastions.
||2.5-3 km, west of Phaistos, were found the
ruins of a royal villa, which most probably was the summer palace
of the Phaistos rulers. Certain of the more important pieces on
exhibit in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum the larnax, the Harvester Vase, and the impeccably painted
frescoes come from the site
|Fourni at Arhanes
||Excavations at Fourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of
which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until
1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase
||46 km. south of Heraklion. A city that flourished particularly during
the Roman era, Gortys was the capital of the Roman province of Crete
and Cyrenaica. It had its origins in the Minoan era, as testified
by the ruins of a 16th c. B.C. farmhouse, which has been excavated.
The most distinctive monuments are the Praetorium (2nd c. AD.), residence
of the Roman governor of the province, and the Nymphaion (2nd c. AD.),
where the Nymphs were worshipped; the temple of Pythian Apollo the
sanctuary of the Egyptian divinities; and the Odeon, where the famous
inscription with the laws of Gortys was found. Plato spoke of these
laws, which were written in a Doric dialect and date from the 6th
century B.C., with admiration.
||5 km. east of Heraklion. Inhabited since the Neolithic era. The
first palace of Knossos was built around 1900 B.C. Two hundred years
later it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt, becoming grander
and more luxurious. The final catastrophe occurred about 1500-1400
B.C., according to one theory, with the eruption of the volcano in
Santorini. Despite this blow, people continued to live there for another
fifty years, until a fire swept through the city circa 1400 B.C. The
Minoan palaces were not only the residence of the ruling house, they
were also administrative and religious centers for the whole region.
The ruins of the capital of the Minoan Kingdom include the palace
of Minos, the homes of the officials and priests who surrounded him
(Little Palace, Caravanserai, House of the Frescoes, etc.), the homes
of ordinary people and the cemetery. The palace was a labyrinthine
complex built around a central court. This multistoried construction
covered an area of 22.000 sq.m. and, in addition to the royal quarters,
also contained p1aces of worship, treasuries, workshops and storerooms.
||The Minoan port of Phaistos
|| Closed to the public
Koules Venetian Fortress
closed on Mondays
|The symbol of Heraklion. The original
name of the fortress was «Roca al mare»; it was built
by the Venetians, before the construction of the new walls. It
was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1303 and took its final
shape between 1523 and 1540.
||Excavations brought to light a sanctuary of Asclepios and Minoan
||34 km. east of Heraklion and 3 km. beyond
the summer resort of the same name. Excavations have brought to
light a palace similar to the ones at Knossos and Phaistos (also
built around 1900 B.C. and abandoned about 1450 B.C.). At Hrissolakos
(Pit of Gold), archaeologists also unearthed the districts surrounding
the Minoan palace and cemetery. The palace covered an area of about
9.000 sq.m. Many of the objects now on display in Heraklions
Archaeological Museum were found at Malia
||63 km. southwest of Heraklion and about 78 km. southeast of Rethimno,
was the second most important palace-city of Minoan Crete. The residence
of the mythical Radamanthes, the palace was also the nucleus of a
setllement inhabited since the Neolithic age. The architectural layout
is identical to that of Knossos. Here too the rooms are arranged around
a court. On the other hand, in contrast to Knossos, the frescoes decorating
the walls were relatively scanty, the unpainted floors and walls being
covered with a lining of pure white gypsum. The area of this palace
was 9,000 sq.m
||14 km. southwest of Heraklion lie the ruins of one of the oldest
Minoan cities of central Crete, including three large buildings, residences
of the local lords
||19 km. south of Heraklion is where the ruins
of a large Minoan mansion, a country estate belonging to a local
nobleman, were discovered. The ruins include a winepress, olive
press, weaving rooms and a possible potters kiln
||16 km. northwest of Aghios Nikolaos. The archaeological site of
this ancient Greek city comprises two acropolises with an Archaic
agora between them. South of the agora is a temple from the Geometric
period, the Delphinion, dedicated to Apollo, as well as a large cistern
dug between the late 3rd and early 2nd century B.C.
||19 km. southeast of Aghios Nikolaos, 15 km. north of Ierapetra,
the best preserved of the Minoan settlements, and one of the most
noteworthy archaeological sites in Crete. It appears to date from
1550-1450 B.C. The ruins of the town include small houses and a small
palace on top of a hill; even the narrow streets and connecting stairways
have survived amidst the foundations of he houses
117 km. southeast of Aghios Nikolaos is the site of a luxurious
Minoan palace, the fourth in significance on the island, which produced
a number of important finds, now in the Heraklion Archaeological
Museum. This palace, which covered 7.000 to 8.000 sq.m. and contained
royal apartments, storerooms and various work-shops, and the nearby
city were destroyed around 1450 B.C. by a violent earthquake, most
probably the one that caused a whole section of the island of Santorini
to sink into the sea.
Zakros was a major Minoan naval base, which established trading
connections with Egypt and Anatolia. It was from here that Minoan
farming estates, two sacred peaks, a cemetery and cave tombs have
||15 km. west of Aghios Nikolaos, is spread out on the slopes of two
acropolises. Founded in the 7th century B.C., it was one of the most
powerful cities in Crete in its hey-day. The ruins include the city
walls, houses and shops from different periods built on terraces
||90 km. east of Aghios Nikolaos, 20 km. from Sitia, at Roussolakos,
has some remains of a port settlement
||Ruins of a Minoan city
||It is an islet at the entrance of the Elounta bay. In antiquity
there was a fortress of the Olounites. In 1579 the Venetians built
a mighty fortress there, which remained under their rule even after
the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1669. During the last years of
the Ottoman occupation, it was a safe refuge of Ottoman families.
In 1903, by law of the Cretan government, it was appointed as thte
place of stay for the lepers of Crete.
Museums in Crete
Museums in Chania
Tel.: (28210) 90.334
| Housed in the Venetian church of San Francesco. Its
exhibits from western Crete and other areas date from the Neolithic
to the Roman era, and include idols, statues, inscriptions, weapons,
pottery, seal stones, coins, jewellery, etc.
Historical Archives of Crete
Tel.: (28210) 52.606
| (open daily 8-13.00 except Saturdays, Sundays and public
holidays). A rich collection of folklore and material related to the
history of the island. The archives are among the largest in the country,
second only to General Archives of the Greek State.
Museum of Crete
Tel.: (28210) 91.875
| On the mole
of the Venetian harbor. Exhibits linked with the islands history
Museums in Rethymnon
Tel.: (28310) 54.668
|The Venetian loggia is a museum containing interesting
archaeological finds from the region as well as a fine coin collection.
and Folk Art Museum
Tel: (28310) 23.398
|The Museum's collections include over 5.000 items that
come from donations, purchases and loans. They are displayed in units;
Folk Art collections include weaving, basket weaving, embroidery-laces,
costumes, ceramics, metal work, traditional cultivations, traditional
occupations, while the historical ones include documents, photographs,
maps, weapons, banners and coins.
Museums in Heraklion
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Tel.: (2810) 22.60.92, (2810) 22.64.70.
|One of the most important museums in Greece. Here are
assembled almost all the finds from the Minoan era. Pottery, stone
carvings, seal stones, statuettes, gold, metalwork, the marvelous
frescoes from the Royal and Little Palaces and villas of the wealthy,
and finally, the unique painted limestone sarcophagus from Aghia Trias.
Tel.: (2810) 28.32.19
|Exhibits from the Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish periods
and historical documents of more recent Cretan history. Also a rich
collection of folk art consisting of local costumes, textiles, woodcarvings
and embroidery as well as a representation of a typical Cretan house
Catherine of Sinai
Monday - Friday: 10.00-13.00
|The preserved katholikon of the Monastery
and the chapel of Agioi Deka today house a collection of representative
works of the Cretan Byzantine and post-Byzantine art.
||Archaeological Collection. Contains finds from the Malia
palace, the Fourni cemetery, and the sanctuary at Anemospilia dating
from the Minoan era
Museum in Hersonissos
From 1 April until 31 October
|The museum has its origins in a private
collection formed over a period of thirty years by Giorgos Markakis,
professor of ophthalmology, lecturer and writer. The buildings themselves
are some of the main exhibits. Built thoroughly with the prevalent
raw materials (stone-wood-clay), under the creative architectural
improvising of the founder, they possess an aesthetic quality unique
in the area. The collections are broad in scope, from agricultural
implements to embroideries and from herbs to rhymes.
Museums in Lassithi
Nikolaos Archaeological Museum
|Archaeological Museum. it contains finds
from excavations in eastern Crete.
||Archaeological Collection. Contains marble statues and
inscriptions from the Greek-Roman era
||Archaeological Museum. Contains finds from Sitia, Zakros,
Petra, and Palekastro from the Minoan era
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