Archaeology in Rethymnon (Crete)

On the face of it, Rethymnon has relatively few ancient sites compared to those of the other three Cretan nomoi; certainly far fewer than its more easterly neighbours, Herakleion and Lasithi. There is an advantage in this: most sites here are rarely visited, giving those with the sense of historical adventure, the ideal opportunity to see some ancient places in their own time, and at their own pace. These sites are Minoan through Roman.

Sites worth visiting include those at Monastiraki in the Amari valley where a rare example of a Minoan structure (dating from around 1700 BC) is a short distance outside the village of the same name. Finds here suggest a close relationship with Phaistos. Armenoi (or Armeni) - some 8km south of Rethymnon and 2km north of the modern village of the same name - has a very important Minoan cemetery, with tombs cut into the hard rock. The site from whence the bodies came has yet to be discovered, although it must be reasonably close by.


The superb site at Eleutherna (pronounced 'Eleftherna') is a must for anybody interested in ancient history and/or archaeology. It is probably the best site in Rethymnon to visit.
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First excavated during Nazi occupation, the dig was continued by the Greek Archaeological service in 1980, a large structure with 60-odd rooms, and some 40 pothoi vases, were discovered here, dating back to the late 18th century BC.
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A recent and ongoing excavation by the American School of Archaeology at Athens, has discovered stone age tools above Plakias, which 'prove' the arrival (and probable departure too), of the world’s first sea-farers.
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A late Minoan cemetery whose importance is enormous, not least because of the uncertainty of where those being buried came from. The rock into which the tombs were cut is very hard, which must have made the digging of them difficult, but in turn has served to preserve them.
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There’s not a great deal to see here, though vaulted tombs have been unearthed, dating back to around the end of the 13th century BC and the village and its environs has been in continuous occupation since then.
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Other Activities for Rethymnon
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