Gortyna was an ancient city of Crete, which was the capital of Crete and Cyrenaica during Roman times.
It was inhabited around 3000 BC. and flourished during the Minoan period, between 1600 – 1100 BC. Today, it is one of the most important archaeological sites in southern Heraklion, at a distance of 45 km from the city center.
The first excavations in Gortyna were started in 1884 by archaeologists Federico Halbherr and Stefanos Xanthoudidis, when they discovered the Great Inscription of Gortyna. Archaeological excavations began much later (in 1898), which continue to this day.
According to the findings, the city of Gortyna developed into one of the largest cities in Crete, during the Minoan era. In fact, in the 3rd century BC. overcame Phaistos in power, having in its possession Matala and the port of Levina. The city, after almost 10 centuries of prosperity, was definitively destroyed by the Arabs in 828 AD. The villages of Agioi Deka, Mitropoli and Ampelouzos are built on its ruins.
The most important monuments and architectural ensembles of the archeological site of Gortyna are:
1. The Conservatory, a typical Roman theater of the 1st century AD. with two entrances from the north and an almost semicircular orchestra.
2. The “Great Inscription” with the Code of Law located on the north circular wall of the Conservatory, housed in a hut.
3. The Church of Agios Titos, a large stone cruciform church with three semicircular niches, externally three-sided and two small arches on the north and south antenna of the cross.
4. The Sanctuary of the Egyptian Deities, Isition, a rectangular place of worship of many gods, Isis, Serapid-Zeus and Hermes-Anubis, with an underground tank.
5. The Temple of Apollo (Pythion), a rectangular house with a treasury.