45km south of Heraklion city, at the Mesaras valley, you will come across Gortyn, one of the biggest archaeological sites in Greece, where the first residents of Crete used to live at the end of the Neolithic period. With about 6,000 years of history, Gortyn, according to historic data, flourished during the Minoan period.
Excavations took place after the discovery of the Large Inscription in 1884 by Iosif Chatzidakis, Stefanos Xanthouthidis and Italian archaeologist Federico Halbherr, while the first excavations were conducted in 1898 by the Italian Archaeological Group in cooperation with the Archaeological Service, and lasted until 1940.
During the Minoan period, Gortyn became more powerful than Faistos -that up to that point was the most important city in Crete-, while during the Roman Empire period, it continued to develop and became the capital of Crete. The city was destroyed to the ground by the Arabs in 828 A.D.
One of the most important findings at the Gortyn archaeological site is the Praitorio (the seat of the Roman Governor), the Roman Baths and the theatre, The Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Egyptian deities, the Ancient Gortyn coins that date back to the 4th, 3rd and 2nd-1st century B.C. as well as the big stone slabs behind the Ancient Theatre on which the laws of Gortyn were inscribed
Nowadays, in the parts of the site open to visitors, you can see Agiou Titou church, the Odeion and the famous plane tree.