The Elliptical House Of Hamezi

In the position of “Souvloto Mouri”, in 1903, the excavations under the direction of St. Xanthoudidis brought into light a building of the Minoan period. Its unique elliptic form -uncommon for the period- and its function, puzzled the archaelogists for many years. In I971, a new research conducted by the Professor Mr. Dabaras revealed new evidence that this building was in fact a residence, of unique style in the Minoan period, dating back to 2200-2000 B.C. while the remains of more ancient residences have been found. During the excavations cupreous objects were found in the exterior of the residence, while in the rooms vessels and some figurines have been found, which are saved in the Museums of Heraklion and Aghios Nikolaos.

The Minoan Villa Of Makry Gialos

In the position “Plakakia”, west from the village of Makry Gialos, archeological excavations revealed a villa that dates back to the post- Minoan period. The villa that was revealed is very important for the study of Minoan architecture because it constitutes micrography of a Minoan palace. In the middle of the building there is the big central courtyard, surrounded by the remainder spaces of the villa with slab paved floors and walls covered with mortar, while there is also a western courtyard. In the central courtyard there is a built altar and next to it a stamp stone was found with arepresentation of a holy boat, a holy tree and a priestess. The roof was set with canes and clay, which is exceptionally interesting as it connects the Minoan with the later Cretan architecture, since this method was used until recently for the construction of the roofs of rural stone-built houses.


Itanos had been one of the most important coastal cities of eastern Crete from the Minoan years until the first Christian era. Nowadays it is known under the name of Erimopolis. Its citizens were dominating throughout the coast of Sitia, from the Samonion cape (today cape Sidero (iron)) to the Erythreon cape (what is today called Goudoura) and the island of Lefki (Koufonisi). Itanos is also mentioned by Herodotus. When Pythia saw the oracle and told the Thyraeans to make a settlement in Libya, the latter sent emissaries to Crete in order to find guides who would lead them to Libya.
The emissaries on their arrival to Itanos met with a laver fisherman who recounted to them how he had once drifted away pushed by the wind to the land of Libya. In turn they convinced him to guide them there where they ended up funding the colony of Cyrene in 630 B.C. Itanos is also mentioned by Stephanos the Byzantine who reckons that the city’s name finds its origins in the Itanos Phoenix. According to him, Itanos was a Phoenician colony controlling the laver and glass trade. It was in this city that the Phoenicians merchants, who traded with Crete, were based. Numerous laboratories for fish and laver processing, glass making and textiles were also found here. Itanos had always been a Syrio-Phoenician station where Phoenician gods such as Phoenix, Amfion and Tagha were worshiped. The city has been a very important port as it was used as a transportation base between the East and Crete.


The castle fortress known today as “Kazarma” (Casa di arma), is the most imposing historical monument in Sitia.The Kazarma used to be a military and administrative centre which consisted of a Medieval dwelling surrounded by walls. The fortification of the town and of the Kazarma can be dated to the late Byzantine period.
However, pirate raids, the continual uprisings against the Venetian occupation by the local people and the great earthquake all led to the partial destruction of the fortifications until the Venetians themselves were forced to completely destroy them with the intention of rebuilding them. This never happened and in 1651 the town was razed and then occupied by the Turks.
During the Turkish occupation it would appear that the walls were never rebuilt but the Kazarma was restored and evidence of the Turkish extensions can be seen today, for example in the cupolas (“koubedes”) on the battlements that form the watch towers. The Kazarma has since been carefully restored and is open to the public offering a panoramic view across the bay of Sitia.


The ancient name of the island was Lefki and it played an important role in the Hellenistic and Roman history of Eastern Crete. Its citizens were mainly fishermen and laver makers. The art of laver processing was known in the area since the prehistoric times as can be seen by the processed laver shells found in Minoan settlements. The laver trade was very lucrative. In 1975 in the same area, N. P. Papadakis excavated a Hellenistic theater with a capacity of 1000 spectators. The orchestra was semicircular and its corridors were vaulted. The second most important edifice found was the public bath house dating from the 1st century A.D. In the ancient Lefki settlement that is located close to the theatre, several houses operating as laver processing laboratories were also found. A mansion with numerous rooms, mosaics and colourful walls was also found. All findings, such as figurines, stone and metal vases are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. In the top of a hill, around 2 km from the settlement, the ruins of an ancient temple were also found, along with two remaining pieces from a colossal sitting statue. The water-supply system consisted of three built aqueducts bringing water from a spring on the top of the hill to the centre of the settlement. It seems that the whole area was violently destroyed during the 4th cent. A.D., while the theatre was looted and burnt. Since then the island has not been permanently populated again. Only passing sailors left their traces in the small caves of the western beach, where engraved on the rocks one can find Christian Saints’ figures dating back to the 17th century. Today, the whole island is a vast archaeological area.

The Minoan Villa of Pano Zakros

The Minoan villa of Pano Zakros was studied by N. Platonas, with the aid of his then associates, Giannis and Efi Sakellaraki, in the years of 1965 and 1966. The chambers of the ground floor include mainly production and storage spaces of agricultural products. One of the chambers accommodated one of the most articulate Minoan wine press, with two press basins and vessels to collect the product. Next to the wine press, a spacious storage room was found, along with six large tubs. One of the tubs beared a Linear A inscription, that started with the ideogram of the wine.

The Minoan Town of Palekastro

At the beach of Palekastro, in the position of Russolakos, a great and big town of the Minoan period was excavated. It flourished during the post-Minoan period but some remains date back to the pre-Minoan period and the mid-Minoan period, mainly tombs with numerous bones very well preserved. The anthropologists that studied the bones found important information on the body structure of the Minoans, who reportedly had an average body length of 1.60 for men and 1.50 for women. A central road connects with 4 other roads that divide the town in 9 districts. The houses that face the central road had imposing fronts, while a complete drainage system was functioning in all the districts. In the district B, among others, there was a chamber-manor with 4 lines of columns and a kitchen, a “Lustral Basin”, a well, a home shrine, a bath, and an oil storage room, while in other spaces there was an oil press. Many vessels, vases, lamps, ect were also found. Chamber-manor were also found in other districts, while in one district a wine press was found. In another district, the famous in antiquity shrine of Diktaios Zeus was found. At this shrine, Zeus was worshipped until the Roman period. The pieces of a plate where the hymn of Zeus Diktaios were also found; it is the first hymn to a deity in the ancient world and it is a hymn to peace and life. In the same space the pieces of an ivory figurine, “the masterpiece” of the Minoan civilization as it has been characterized, were discovered and are exhibited at the archeological museum of Sitia. Human activity in the Minoan town of Palekastro suddenly seized, as it happened in Zakros and in other towns of Crete in about 1500 BC, after the horrific eruption of the volcano of Thira.


The American archeologist R.B. Seager discovered Mohlos in 1907, after following the instructions of a local fisherman. The following year, the excavations began on the little island, which revealed 20 built tombs and about 12 habitations. In 1955, J. Leatham and S. Hood cinducted underwater searches and found Roman fish tanks at the coast across the island, supporting the hypothesis that the island of Mohos was a peninsula during the copper age. According to the findings of the excavations, the island of Mohlos developed to one of the most important centers of the Minoan civilization. The valley ashore provided a rich agricultural production and the narrow strait that united the island with the shore in antiquity was forming two natural ports, keeping the ships safe in any weather condition. As an important commercial center, it imported obsidian from the island of Milos and other raw material from the East, which were further supplying other regions of Crete. The discovery of a circular stamp that comes from north Syria and dates back to the 18th century, proves the significance of this port. In the ‘district of the craftsmen” golden jewelry was constructed, along with stamp-stones, and the famous stone vessels of Mohlos, many of which were found in tombs of the period. After the destruction from the volcano eruption, the town of Mohlos was reconstructed and expanded. The new town had central roads and other smaller roads that divided the town in districts. The houses were built in different levels, adjusted to the inclination of the ground, and had two or three floors. During the last phase of the extended habitation on the island of Mohlos, a 1st century fortification is constructed at its north and east part. The fortification was probably an effort of Ierapytna to establish its presence on the north coast of Crete in this period.

Hellenistic City of Xerokambos

Recent surface excavations have proven that the area has been populated since the prehistoric times and is of great archeological interest. In the site of Katsounakia a large Minoan settlement was found but has not been excavated yet. In the hill of Trachelas a sanctuary was also found but had already been desecrated. Furthermore, in the area of Psile Ammos one can see the ancient stone quarry that was used to build the ancient city. There are also numerous salterns used for sea salt production. They consist of a series of canals and founts that are dug in the rocks of the seashore. Today they are mostly covered by the sand of the beach. Across from the Kabaloi area one can find a series of islets with installations dating from the post-Minoan era (1500-1300 B.C.). Also in the Farmakokefalo area important excavations started in 1984 by the archeologist N. P. Papadakis. An important Hellenistic city was found which is speculated to be the ancient city Ampelos, spanning throughout the contiguous hill and surrounded by high city walls. Only part of the city-walls is still preserved. Many houses, roads and other findings have come to light uncovering an important part of its history. The city was built sometime during the 5th century B.C. and flourished during the 3rd-2nd century B.C. There was trade with other Cretan cities and the Dodecanese; especially with Rhodes and Kalymnos. Characteristic findings include lead pellets used by the slingers of the army. The excavation findings are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. Finally, in the centre of the city the small church of Aghios-Nikolaos dating from 1895 can be found.

Archaeological Park of Petra

Petra is a traditional settlement, 1 km east of Sitia. A small tower from the Venetian period can be found there. It bears the name “house of Kornaros” and belonged to the homonym family. On the hill over the tower, a small palace and a settlement have been brought to light by recent excavations. The rooms of the palace were luxuriously adorned and its walls painted with bright colours. Many pots, vases and epigrams of Linear A and B were found as well. Under the road of the contemporary settlement cyclopean fortifications were found, while in the fringes port installations were also found. In the adjacent hill “head of Petras” (east of the palace towards the sea) a Neolithic settlement is being excavated. Recently, the settlement of Petras has been transformed into an important archaeological park that is worth visiting during the summer months.


The region, located between the two arms, Kalamauki and Panteli, of the current river of Stomios (ancient Didymos), was occupied by the ancient big city of the Eteocretans, Praissos, which was one of the most important regions of Eastern Crete. It was built on three hills and was surrounded by a strong fortification wall, whose remains are saved in some points and in particular on the northeast of the big hill, where the chair of the city’s authorities was located. The third hill with the altar-shrine and the holy cave in the position Skales were located outside the fortification. After the conquest of Crete from the Dorians in the 12th century B.C. the Eteocretans, who were the first inhabitants of Crete and the “native Cretans”, withdrawled towards the east of the island, where they preserved their genuine Minoan character, their language, religion and the worship of Diktaios Zeus. Praissos was located at the centre of the Sitia peninsula and had harbours in the Northern sea, the Cretan sea, in Iteia (Sitia), in the Libyan sea, in Styles, as it appears in the resolution of Praisians, during the Macedonian years, concerning fishery and the trade of the red shells and the navy. The Ierapytnians, who were of Dorian origin, after many of years of war finally defeated the Eteocretans of Praissos and destroyed their city. The region was probably inhabited since the Neolithic period. In the cave located in Skales, by the river banks of Kalamauki and Panteli, Neolithic and caramaic ceramics were found.

The Tomb of Achladia

Numerous excavation works have been performed in two locations in Achaldia, where visitors can see two wonderful sites of the Minoan civilization, the unique domed tomb of Eastern Crete and the remains of a Minoan villa. In the position “Platuskinos”, and underground domed tomb with a hall passage has been excavated, the only sample of a domed tomb of the copper age in Eastern Crete and extremely rare in the whole island. It dates back to 1400-1220BC and it was used for more than a century. A built passage 9 meters long leads to the entrance of the tomb. The chamber is circular with a diameter of 4,08 meters and height 4,16 meters. The dome is build with large stones and is cone-shaped. Right across the main entrance of the tomb, there is a second smaller entrance, which was possibly a symbolic opening for the passage of the dead to the “other” world, but it could also be the entrance of a side chamber which was never fully constructed. The lintels and the sills of the two entrances are monolithic. The cavities around the main entrance probably functioned as the support of the wooden gate, which was closing the entrance to the tomb. Due to its similarity to the Mycenaean domed tombs of Northern Greece, it is often argued by some researchers that the technical construction of the domed tombs of the post- Minoan period was “imported” from Mycenaean technicians of mainland Greece.

The Villa of Achladia

In the position “Riza”, in 1952, I. Platon attempted to perform a small excavation on a point where an ancient wall was visible. During the excavation the external walls of a habitation were revealed, which were made by large carved stones. In 1959 Platon continued the excavation works and uncovered the whole building, which proved to be an important agricultural villa of the Minoan period. It dates back to 1600-1550 BC, and was used for at least half a century until it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake. The building covers 270 square meters and includes 12 chambers. The main entrance, with a monolithic sill, was in the east, while another entrance was in the west. The reception hall in the left of the tiled pre-chamber had a double entrance and communicated with a smaller chamber with a built bench and had three columns supporting the roof. Another possible reception hall was on the right of the pre-chamber. The villa also had a kitchen, storage rooms and other secondary spaces. In the exterior, the walls shaped a yard that was probably used for animal housing.

The Palace and The Minoan Settlement Of Zakros

The first excavation in Kato Zakros was performed by the British D. Hogarth, in 1901. Then, the remains of a Minoan settlement came to the surface, indicating a flourished society. The most important of Hogarth’s findings were the about 300 clay stamps on coins, indicating some sort of bureaucratic system of control or a number of commercial affairs. Some of these stamps originate from Knossos, something that indicates the close relationship of Knossos and Zakros, at least during the 15th century BC. In 1962, the Ephore of Cretan Antiquities N. Platon started a new excavation in the valley of Kato Zakros. The Greek archeologist was convinced that this position was “hiding” something more important than a “naval settlement”, as it seemed to be the center of a culture, recognized by the ceramic products of the wider region. The excavation results were indeed impressive. The excavations revealed a Minoan palace and a settlement surrounding it, dispersed over the slopes of the two hills of the valley. Important findings came to light during the research of the Minoan tombs, most of which were “sheltered” in natural caves, in the gorge of Zakros -that after the findings was renamed as “the gorge of the dead” (“faraghi ton nekron”) – but also in other positions, such as in “Mavro Aulaki” southeast from the gulf and “Spiliara”, on the north slope of the valley. The palace of Zakros – as it is preserved today- was constructed during the 16th century BC. It is possible that it replaced an older public building, as indicated by the remains found under the east wing of the palace. Only at this spot it was possible to further excavate, since agricultural acitivity during the 20th century -and before the excavations- had totally destroyed this part of the palace. In terms of architecture, the palace of Zakros has several similarities with the larger palace of Knossos.