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Gortyn today

The excavations of the ancient city of Gortyn cover an area of about 400 ha. It is the largest not only on the island, but even in all of Greece! The enormity of the area is related to the historic splendor of the city, which around the 3rd century BC has 300,000 inhabitants.

 

There were not only apartments and palaces, but also temples, public buildings, schools, bathhouses, theaters, agoras, gyms and workshops, and thus workplaces. The city was supplied with water from aqueducts from springs on the slopes of Psiloritis. In addition, the water supply system was used to run fountains and baths. Stone quarried from the so-called Messara Labyrinth in Ambelouzos.

History of Gortyn

It is assumed that Gortyn was inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium BC. However, the heyday of the settlement came much later; 1600 ÷ 1100 BC. Around the 7th century BC, the Acropolis, or temple complex, was built here. Gortyna has become an important cultural and social center. In the 3rd century BC, she defeated Phaistos and seized power in the entire region of southern Crete. About 300,000 people lived here at that time, which proves the great power of the city of Polis. And during the Roman reign, from 69 BCE, Gortyna was the capital of the entire island and North Africa.

 

In the 1st century CE st. Paul. Here he met the apostle Titus, whom he appointed Bishop of Crete. A reminder of the teachings is the Letter to Titus in the New Testament. The seat of the archbishop was established in Gortyn.

 

The fall of the city began in 330 after the conquest of Byzantium, the work of the Saracens, conquering and destroying the city in 826.

History of Gortyn

It is assumed that Gortyna was already inhabited in the third millennium BCE. However, the heyday of the settlement came much later; 1,600 ÷ 1,100 BCE Around the 7th century BC The Acropolis, or temple complex, was built here. Gortyna became an important center when in the 3rd century BC she defeated Festos and seized power in the entire region of southern Crete.

 

About 300,000 people lived here during this period, which proves the great power of Polis. And during the Roman reign, from 69 BCE, Gortyna was the capital of the entire island and North Africa.

 

In the 1st century CE st. Paul. Here he met the apostle Titus, whom he appointed Bishop of Crete. A reminder of the teachings is the Letter to Titus in the New Testament. The seat of the archbishop was established in Gortyn.

 

The fall of the city began in 330 after the conquest of Byzantium, the work of the Saracens, conquering and destroying the city in 826.

The mythological meaning of Gortyn

Zeus is known for his romances. One of them is related to Gortyn. Well, the god of Olympus was very fond of a mortal princess named Europa. Apparently, she was famous for her extraordinary beauty.

 

Zeus took the form of a white bull and appeared at Europe's playground. She, delighted with the beauty and gentleness of the animal, sat on it. The god took the opportunity, took the form of a large, white eagle and quickly flew away with the prey to Crete.

 

They landed on Matala Beach, from where they flew to Gortyna. Here, in the shade of a big tree, Zeus had a young girlfriend. Two sons were born from the union; Minos (later King Knossos and now the most magnificent palace in Crete) and Radamanthus (king of the smaller islands of the Aegean archipelago, judge of the dead in Hades).

 

Some reports indicate that Zeus had a special love for Minos. For several years he took care of the boy and developed his leadership and brave skills.

 

He was not loyal to Europe for long, he made sure that she married Asterios, king of Crete, so that he could seek further love adventures.

Odeon, or Roman musical theater

When the Romans took power in Crete, they introduced their rule, culture and architecture. One of the most magnificent buildings was erected in larger cities and is still enchanting today.

 

Since Gortyn was the capital of the island, it had its own musical theater. It was a very important cultural facility, hosting theater and music performances, as well as meetings in large groups. The shape, benches and lines for the actors have survived to this day. At the back of the theater there are the above-mentioned Law Code plaques.

St. Tytus in Gortyn

A little further there are the ruins of the basilica of St. Titus. He was a pagan, possibly of Cretan origin. When St. Paul converted and was baptized. Moreover, the apostle who arrived had such confidence in Titus that he appointed him bishop of Crete.

 

As a true disciple of St. Paul, accompanied on travels and studies. After the martyrdom of his teacher in Rome in 67, he returned to Crete and taught until the end of his life. He died a martyr's death in Gortyn.

 

His grave is probably also located here.

 

Unfortunately, the Saracens destroyed the basilica after conquering Crete in 823. Relic of the head of St. Titus, which in 1662 the Venetians, fearing invaders from the Turks, deported to St. Mark's in Venice.

 

In 1966, Pope Paul VI returned the relic to Crete. Currently, it is in the church of St. Titus in Heraklion.

 

Sculptures from Gortyn

Immediately after entering the excavation site, you can admire the sculptures found here. Statues in antiquity were very important to the population. Characters were considered to have souls. People prayed to them and asked for various favors. They were also a reflection of wealth.

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