Heraklion Prefecture flaunts archaeological sites of great importance, ones that attract thousands of visitors from all over the world every year.
The three largest Minoan palace complexes (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia) and ancient Gortyn are to be found there, as well as numerous other archaeological sites, which are located in the mainland and on the south shore of the region; these may not be quite as famous, but they are nonetheless certainly noteworthy.
Knossos, the largest and most brilliant centre of the Minoan civilization, is located 5 kilometres south of the historical centre of the city of Heraklion. East of the hill where the magnificent ruins of Minoan Knossos are situated...
A noteworthy Minoan town was unearthed in the early 20th century, on the site of present-day Tylissos, by the archaeologist Iosif Chatzidakis. It probably came into existence in the Prepalatial years, however it flourished during the Neopalatial period (1650-1450 BC) and the Postpalatial era (1450-1200 BC).
The palace complex and the city of Phaistos were built on a hill, offering a panoramic view, especially to the east, to the north, and to the south. The rich and fertile plain of Messara opens up ahead to the east for a distance of 40 kilometres. On the background, one can see the mountains of Lassithi. To the right, towards the south, the Asterousia mountains come into view. On the left-hand side, to the north, majestic Psiloritis dominates the scenery...
The archaeological site of Agia Triada is one of the most remarkable in Crete. It is located 3 kilometres south of Phaistos, on the edge of the river Geropotamos, in a landscape of exceptional natural beauty.
The seaside location known today as Kommos is situated west of Pitsidia village, which belongs to the Municipality of Phaistos. The main harbour of the region of Messara existed there in the Minoan years, and it possibly served both Phaistos and Agia Triada.
The archaeological site of Gortyn is located near the present-day village of Agii Deka, very close to the river Mitropolianos (known as Litheos, in Antiquity), in the Messara region.