Gortyn or Gortys, Prefecture of Heraklion
Gortyn is in the centre of the Mesara Plain and was one of the mightiest city states in Doric Crete. It was here that Zeus transformed into a bull, brought back princess Europa from her home in Phoenicia (it was her after which the continent is named) it is said that their marriage was contracted under an evergreen Plane tree beside a brook in Gortyn. From the union between Zeus and Europa Minos was born.
Entrance to Agia Titus €4 to look at Roman City €0
Agia Titus and the ‘other stuff’ certainly are impressive and worth the visit. Most people pull up in their cars pay their €4 entrance fee, look round maybe have a drink at the quite reasonably priced cafe and drive off to their next stop. The best part of Gortys that most people will miss is well, its most of it. The guide books and all the info says that Gortys was the Capital of Roman Crete and was a very large walled city. So are you going to just come look at one little tiny bit and drive off? Well that’s what most tourists and excursions do. You see the Greeks are only really bothered about the Greek bit of Gortyn, the ‘Laws or code of Gortyn’ Which dates from about450bc but is probably a copy of Laws which have been observed for generations before, and that’s the bit you are paying to see. The fact that it’s at the rear of a Roman Odeum (indoor theatre) is just a bonus for you. So when you come out of Agia Titus and think ‘was that it? Well take a walk over the main road and walk down the road opposite. Look to your right and you will see walls with roman foundations. Take the 2nd dirt track on your right and walk down it. If you look around you at the fields you will see that they are very rocky. Look at the rocks on the floor.. They are really pieces of pottery, roof tiles, roman brick, marble columns and blocks. Some columns have been stood up and some are still lying in the bushes. Fascinating isn’t it.
But keep going down the dirt track, soon you will see large structures on you left which were once part of the South Theatre. Turn left just after them to the temple of Apollo and follow the fence around past the Praetorium looking all around just a small part of the massive Roman city. Unfortunately people are not allowed inside so you have to look at the site from the very unsecure (in some places) fence. But although there may be nobody around please don’t go inside, If the fence happens to have been left open please secure it again as you pass through by. The site stretches on over the fields and there is a stadium, Baths, Agora (market place) and many more things to explore most of it is not fenced in. The official way to look at the remnants of the city is to walk along the main road and turn left at the signs down a paved path.
I think this was the highlight of our trip to Crete.