Phaistos & Hagia Triada

Phaistos - general view (Crete, Greece)

Coordinates: 35°03′05″N 24°48′49″E


Phaistos, also known as Festos is an ancient city on Crete. Phaistos was located in the south-central portion of the island, about 5.6 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea. It was inhabited from about 4000 BC. A palace, dating from the Middle Bronze Age, was destroyed by an earthquake during the Late Bronze Age. Knossos along with other Minoan sites was destroyed at that time. The palace was rebuilt toward the end of the Late Bronze Age.

Map of Minoan Crete

Phaistos had its own currency and had created an alliance with other autonomous Cretan cities, and with the king of Pergamon Eumenes II. Around the end of the 3rd century BC, Phaestos was destroyed by the Gortynians and since then ceased to exist in the history of Crete. The goddesses Aphrodite and Leto (also called Phytia) were worshiped here.

From 1900 and onwards, excavations have been made by the Italian School of Archaeology in Athens, which brought to light the ruins of Phaistos. Remains from the middle neolithic age have been found in one of the three hills in the area, and a part of the palace which was built during the Early Minoan period. Two other palaces seem to have been built in the Middle and Late Minoan Age. The older looks like the Minoan palace of Knossos, although smaller. On its ruins (probably destroyed by an earthquake around 1600 BC) a palace of the later Minoan period was built, bigger and magnificent. This mansion consists from several rooms separated by columns.

Entryway to the palace of Phaistos, Crete, GreeceThe levels of the theatre area, in conjunction with two splendid staircases, gave a grand access to the main hall of the Propylaea with the high doors. A twin gate led directly to the central courtyard through a broad street. The interior owed its splendour to the decoration of the floors and walls with plates of sand and white gypsum stone. On the upper floors of the west sector spacious ceremonies rooms existed.

A grand entrance from the central courtyard lead to the royal apartments in the north part of the palace. Alabaster and other materials had been used for their construction.

The old palace was built in the Protopalatial Period, then rebuilt twice due to extensive earthquake damage. When the palace was destroyed by earthquakes, the re-builders constructed a new palace atop the old.

The famous sarcophagus from Hagia Triada, Archaeonogical Museum of Crete

Hagia Triada

Hagia Triada is the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement. Hagia Triada is situated on a prominent coastal ridge, with the Mesara Plain below. Hagia triada sits at the western end of the ridge, while Phaistos is at the eastern end. Hagia Triada means holy trinity in Greek.

Archaeological site of Agia Triada, in South Crete, GreeceHagia Triada is 30-40 meters above sea level. It lies four km west of Phaistos, situated at the western end of the Mesara Plain. The site was not one of the “palaces” of Minoan Crete, but an upscale town, and possibly a royal villa. After the catastrophe of 1450 BC, the town was rebuilt and remained inhabited until the 2nd century BC. Later, a Roman period villa was built at the site. Nearby are two chapels, Agia Triada and Agios Georgios, built during the Venetian period, as well as the deserted village of Agia Triada.

Hagia Triada, as nearby Phaistos, was excavated from 1900 to 1908 by a group from Italian Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene. They unearthed a sarcophagus painted with illuminating scenes from Cretan life, now at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion.
The sarcophagus was used for the burial of a prince during the period of the Mycenean occupation (1400 BC). The main scene is a bull sacrifice and shows all the stages of the sacred ceremony. On it appear a large number of religious symbols,a male figure playing a flute and a man playing a seven-string lyre.This is the oldest picture of the lyre known in classical Greece.

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