Phaistos and Gortyn - Crete - Greece

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On the way back from the Agiofarago gorge and the Rouvas gorge we stop at Phaistos (also Phaestos, Festos or Phaestus).
Phaistos is the largest excavation on Crete besides Knossos. Phaistos can easily be reached from the main road in the south side of Crete. Phaistos can also be reached easily from Matala. A large parking tells you when you have arrived. Phaistos is not partially restored like Knossos.
The palace of Phaistos was built around 4000 BC in a, during Minoan times, regional trading centre. The king of Phaistos, Radamanthos, is said by mythology to be the brother of King Minos. The name Phaistos derives from the son of Hercules, Phaitos.
One of the most important artifacts found at Phaistos is the disk of Phaistos, or the discus of Phaestus. A disc which is inscribed on both sides and hasn't been deciphered at this time.
Phaistos was so big that it had it's own government and coins The area included, amongst others, the island of Lito.
Phaistos was destroyed by the neighboring Gortyn around 200 BC.
Most artifacts which were found at Knossos, Phaistos and Gortys, are currently located in the Heraklion Museum in Heraklion.
The ancient Greeks certainly knew where to build their palaces. From Phaistos you have a spectacular view across the island of Crete.


On the way from Agios Nikolaos to Matala we stop at Gortyn.
Gortyn is one the three largest excavations on Crete. From the main road the site is clearly visible.
Gortyn was founded around 1400 BC by Greeks from Peloponnesos and destroyed in 826 by the Arabs.
Surrounding Gortyn are numerous excavations where lots of artifacts have been preserved. Unfortunately a lot of these artifacts are from the Roman period. About the Hellenistic period little is known.
In 1884 Gortyn became famous for it's long inscription of the town law of Gortyn from the 5th century BC. The inscription in boustrophedon is the only one preserved in Greece. It describes not only the entire law book, but the law code for various things like civil law and criminal law. The criminal law carried more weight in those times than family law. An important aspect from the period is that slaves had rights, could own property and were free to marry a wife.

Most artifacts which were found at Knossos, Phaistos and Gortyn, are currently located in the Heraklion Museum in Heraklion.

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