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{#images_13.jpg}Knossos – 10 km
is the site of the most important and better known palace of Minoan civilization. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary king Minos. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Icaros. The site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times. KnossosThe Linear B tablets (Mycenaean script) of the 14th century B.C. mention the city as ko-no-so. Intensive habitation occured mostly in the Minoan period, when the so-called first (19th-17th centuries B.C.) and second palaces (16th-14th centuries B.C.) were built along with luxurious houses, a hospice and various other structures. After its partial destruction in 1450 B.C., Knossos was settled by Mycenaeans from the Greek Mainland.

phaistosPhaistos – 60 km
was one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the foundation and development of the Minoan palaces in the 15th century B.C. The Minoan city covered a considerable area around the palatial centre. After the destruction of the palace in the 15th century, the city continued to be inhabited in the Mycenaean and Geometric periods, that is, until the 8th century B.C. Later, the temple of Rhea was built to the south of the old palace.

The Hellenistic city was extremely prosperous; houses of the period are to be seen in the west court (upper terrace) of the palace. In the middle of the 2nd century B.C. it was destroyed and dominated by the neighbouring city of Gortyn. Phaistos Traces of habitation dating from the Venetian period are scattered in the whole area Phaistos disk was found in 1908 at the ruins .It is dated to 1700 BC, approximately. The Phaistos disk inscription was written in the syllabic writing system of an ancient Greek dialect. According to many historians, the content of the text is religious.

imageGortys – 50 km

Was first inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period (3000 B.C.) and flourished much later, in the Late Minoan period (1600-1100 B.C.), when the villa with the shrine was founded at the site of Kannia, near Metropolis. Remains of the Archaic habitation (7th century B.C.) were located in the area of the Acropolis, while the large inscription, the Gortyn Law Code, dated to the 5th century B.C., attests the prosperity of the city, which continued until the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd century B.C.). Gortyn became an ally of Rome and during the Roman period (1st-5th centuries A.D.) reached the peak of its prosperity as the capital of the province of Crete and Cyrene. Gortys (Gortyna) was an extremely important city during the early christrian period till the Arab conquest. According to tradition, Gortyna was the first city of Crete to accept Christianity. Here, Apostle Titus preached Christianity and in A.D. 250 the Ten Saints martyred. In A.D. 824 the city, which had become the seat of an Archbishop, was destroyed by the Arabs.

MaliaMalia – 32 km

During the Neolithic period (6000-3000 B.C.) is attested only by potsherds, but habitation was continuous from the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. until the end of Prehistory. Houses of a Prepalatial settlement (2500-2000 B.C.) have been found under the palace, while graves of the same period are located near the sea. The first palace was built in around 2000-1900 B.C. The already existing significant settlement of which are preserved parts around the palace, was then converted into a palatial centre-city. The palace was destroyed in around 1700 B.C. and rebuilt in 1650 B.C. at the same site, following the plan of the older palace, while a few changes took place 50 years later.
Malia The destruction of the new palace came in c. 1450 B.C., along with the destruction of the other Minoan palatial centres. The site was reoccupied for a short period in the 14th-13th century B.C. Remains of a Roman settlement cover an extensive area at the site called "Marmara", where a basilica of the 6th century is also preserved.

zakrosZakros – 182 km
is the fourth in terms of size, among the Minoan palaces. It was located at an advantageous strategic position, at a protected bay, and was the centre of commercial exchange with the countries of the East, as is indicated by the excavation finds (elephants` tusks, faience, copper etc.) It has two main building phases: the old palace was built in c. 1900 B.C., and the new one in c. 1600 B.C., but was destroyed in 1450 B.C. along with the other centres of Minoan Crete. The palace was the administrative, religious and commercial centre, and was surrounded by the town. After its destruction, it was not rebuilt and the site was used only for cultivation. Burials have been uncovered inside caves on the slopes of the "Ravine of the Dead", as the ravine that stretches from Epano Zakros to Kato Zakros is called.

 

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