The ruins of the ancient city of Gortys with its acropolis and necropolis extend in an area of about 1.000 acres, from the hills Ai-Giannis, Volakas and Prophitis Ilias in the north to the villages Agioi Deka and Metropolis in the south.

The area of Gortys was inhabited already in the Neolithic Times, as finds from this period have been spotted in the plain and the hills, few of which of Minoan origin. At the site Kania, south of the village Metropolis, a late Minoan country villa with remarkable finds has been excavated. In the Geometric Period (1.100 - 700 B.C.) the settlement was built on the acropolis and villages were built at the foot of the hills. In the Archaic Times (700 - 500 B.C.) the city was extended into the area of the later Conservatory and the plain, in the place of the later temple of “Pythian” Apollo. From the city of the classical period the remains of the synagogue in the place of today’s Conservatory have been spotted, the most important monument being the Great Inscription in the northern circular wall of the Conservatory.

In the Hellenistic Times (end of the 4th century B.C. - 67 B.C.) Gortys was one of the largest cities of Crete. In the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. it was the head of one of the three city unions and in the 2nd century B.C., when Rome intervened in the internal affairs of Crete, Gortys took the side of the Romans. After the Roman conquest it became the capital of the Roman province of Crete and the Cyrene and experienced great building development. In the early Byzantine period the administrative and urban centre of the city was transferred to the Christian neighbourhood in the modern village Metropolis, while a second centre of the early Byzantine city was located at the church of Agioi Deka. After the Arab conquest, Gortys was ruined.

(Author: Maria Egglezou)