Another city whose past glory is obvious through its ruins is the Roman capital Gortyna, perhaps named from Gortyna, son of Rhadamanthus, king of the nearby Phaistos. Situated 45 km south of Heraklion, it shows signs of habitation from the Neolithic era onward. Gortyna grew and enjoyed great fame from the 3rd century BC, especially when the city was chosen by the Roman conquerors as the capital of the province of Crete and Cyrenaica (part of modern Libya). Dating from this period are the Odeum, the Praetorium (the seat of the Roman governor) and the Roman Baths. At the archaeological site of Gortyna the visitor will also have the opportunity to visit the church of Agios Titos, the Acropolis, the Temple of Apollo and the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods. A prominent finding of the area is the “Dodekadelktos” an inscription, consisting of twelve columns (delktous) on which the civil law of Gortyna is engraved. It contains progressive and liberal laws for the time, and is one of the oldest known collections of laws dating from Greek Antiquity. The conquest and destruction of Gortyna by the Arabs took place in 828 AD. One natural attraction that you should not miss is the evergreen plane tree of Gortyna, under which according to myth, Zeus lay with Europa, the fruit of their union being the birth of the kings of Crete, Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon.
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