is located at a distance of around 30 km. to the SE of Rethymnon
and occupies two long, narrow ridges, called Pyrgi and Nissi. Three streams flow
around the foot of the hills and join to the north of them. The urban centre of
was always located at Pyrgi. Ruins of Hellenistic walls and buildings, Roman structures and an
Early Christian basilica are preserved on the east slope of the hill. On the west slope of the hill, at the site called Orthi
Petra (standing stone), lies the cemetery of the Late Geometric and Archaic periods,
part of which was covered by the Roman buildings. Remains of a settlement that
flourished in the Hellenistic period have been uncovered on the Nissi hill.
The first excavations on the site were carried out in 1929 by the
British Archaeological School under the direction of H. Payne. The area has been
systematically excavated since 1985 by the Department of Archaeology
of the University of Crete. Excavations are carried out in three sections of the
site: a) Katsivelos, b) Pyrgi and Nissi hills, and c) Orthi Petra.
The most important monuments of the site are:
- Part of a defensive tower
It stands at the north end of the narrow passage which is the only natural access to Pyrgi hill from the south.
The tower was used from the Hellenistic until the Byzantine period.
- Hellenistic bridge
It is located to the north of the city, near the junction of the streams flowing on either side of the two hills.
The bridge is partly hewn from the rock and its triangular arch is built in the ecphoric system.
Dated to the Hellenistic period (330-67 BC).
- Early Christian basilica at Katsivelos.
Three-aisled basilica with a narthex. Two rows of columns divide the interior into three aisles
of which the two lateral must have had a second floor. The stone iconostasis is
decorated with floral motifs and crosses. The mosaic floors, decorated with geometric
and floral patterns, are also preserved. Dated to the 5th-7th centuries AD.
- Rock-cut cisterns. Impressive pillared cisterns quarried
out in the rock at the south side of the Pyrgi hill. The water was carried to
the city on the eastern part of the hill by means of a vaulted aqueduct. The structures
are generally dated to the Roman period but an even earlier date should not be
- Cemetery at Orthi Petra. The cemetery was used from
the late Protogeometric until the early Archaic period (870/850-600 BC). A variety
of burial practices has been observed, including simple inhumations, inhumations
in pithos or amphora and cremations. Grave enclosures, funerary monuments, architectural
and free-standing sculptures were also uncovered in the area.
- Massive peribolos at the south end of Nissi hill.
It is rectangular in plan, built of large ashlar blocks and was entered by a Doric
propylon with five columns, in the middle of the west long side. Dated to ca.
- Hellenistic settlement at Nissi. Section of a Hellenistic
settlement (330-67 BC) which is gradually uncovered by the recent excavations.
The layout follows the natural slopes of the hill and not a regular pattern. Large
parts of the rock were hewn in order to provide building areas. Each house covered
an area of around 200 sq.m. and was provided with a cistern for the collection