The ancient city of Gortyna

The ancient city of Gortyna

Gortyna was an ancient city of Crete and was the capital of the island during the Roman era. 45 km from the city of Heraklion, it is located in the heart of the most fertile plain of the island, Messara.

The city was built along the river Litheos. According to one tradition, it was named after Gortynas, son of Radamanthus, king of Phaistos and brother of Minos, who founded it.

After the Roman conquest of Crete in 67 BC, Gortyna, which was affiliated to Rome, became the capital of Crete instead of Knossos which had been the capital until then. Gortyna was declared the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It retained this status until the Arab conquest in 828 AD. Monumental buildings, numerous statues, luxurious imported objects, and rich burials testify to the cosmopolitan character of the city and the prosperity of its inhabitants.

In the early Christian centuries, Gortyna was the Archiepiscopal see and contributed decisively to the prevalence of Christianity on the island.

Its decline started at the end of the 8th century, when strong earthquakes and increasing raids from Arab pirates forced the population to take refuge in the fortified settlements of the surrounding hills.

In the part that you can visit, one of the most interesting findings is the early Christian church of Agios Titos, dating back to the 6th century AD.

If you get here, it is worth touring the city ruins scattered among the centuries-old olive groves, south of the carriage road.

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