Build 4000 years BC, Festos is one of the most important archaeological site on Crete.
In Minoan times this city was the center for the hole south of Crete. The King of Festos
(or Phaistos) was the brother of King Minos, who ruled over Knossos.
Back in those days Festos was a large city, its city limits going from the current Village St Ioannis on the south up to the church of St Fotini in the north.

The Palace, build on top of a hill on the south coast of Crete, has a splendid view over the entire area. In the north part of the Palace archaeologist found the "Disc Of Phaistos". It has writings on both sides but its meaning is still unknown.

The entire Palace is rebuild several times, probably destroyed by earthquakes.
In the area of Festos many artefacts have been found. In Kamilari a closed tomb was discovered and in Kalybia more tombs from the Mycenean period. On the lower part of the hill you can find the old watermill of Festos. During its glory days there must have been many more watermills on the foot of the hill to supply the city with grain. New areas are still discovered at the site.

Festos Festos

About a 10 minute drive from Festos you will find Gortys.
Around 150BC neighbouring Gortys attacked and destroyed Festos and took over the role as capital of the area. The golden period of the city was during the Roman time. Most of the buildings in Gortys are from the second century. Even Plato has mentioned the city and its laws. The laws of Gortys are inscribed in stone, and still a part of these laws can be seen. The first Christian temples on Crete were build in Gortys and can still be seen today. It was the first city on Crete to adapt Christianity. The city has been destroyed by the Arabs around 830AD.

Gortys Gortys

Gortys Gorthys

Next to the entrance you will see a monument building, it holds some of the statues that have been found at Gortys. About 500m further down the road, on the right side, there is another part of Gortys, however not open to the public. It's well worth to walk around the second site as well because it holds many beautiful features.

Close to Festos, on your way from Rethymnon, you will pass Matala, the old port of Festos and Gortys. Matala is famous for the hippy caves. During the 70ties many hippy's from all around the world found shelter in the many, unnatural, caves that can be found in Matala.
The caves ware used as tombs during the first and second centaury