Eleutherna, and Chania, Crete

 The archaeological excavation site at Eleutherna

 Our next expedition led us to Eleutherna, one of the capital cities of ancient Crete, during the time of the Homeric epics (ca. 1000–600 B.C.). We were fortunate that Nikos Marangoudakis was prepared to give us his time, and guide us around the site, which is closed to te general public at this time. Nikos is assistant to  Professor Stampolidis (chief archaeologist of the site), and an authority on this era.

The map of the site shows how extensive it is. The area we visited is 
number 7, in the centre of the map

Unfortunately, we were unable to take photographs on the site, as many of the new finds have yet to be published. Eleutherna, situated in the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, is one of the most important archaeological sites on Crete. It was voted into the ‘Top 10 excavations of 2009’ by the Archaeological Institute of America. Central to the excavations is a cemetery, dating from the 9th to 6th century BC. Unlike other civilisations, the Spartans and Cretans built their cemeteries in the middle of the town, as a way of keeping in touch with the past and their ancestors. We were very lucky to have Nikos, Joanna and Çiğdem, with all their comprehensive knowledge, to guide us through this extraordinary site.

We climbed up onto the platform, and looked down on an amazing sight of artifacts
that had lain buried for 3,000 years.

Nikos and Çiğdem

Reluctantly, we said goodbye to Nikos, and headed off to the beautiful city of Chania, our next overnight stay. This ancient city began as a Minoan settlement, and faced conquerors and influences of different civilizations throughout the ages. This is still evident today in its traditional architecture, and in many of its monuments, dating from Venetian and Ottoman times.

Chania Cathedral, dedicated to Panagia Trimartyri (Virgin of the Three Martyrs), 
the patron saint of Chania.

Etz Hayyim, a unique little Romaniote synagogue in the old town's former Jewish quarter, which dates from the 14th century. Destroyed in WWII, this synagogue was lovingly restored by the famous writer, cook and artist Nikos Stavroulakis.

As we walked through the town, we came across these men
playing backgammon, just as they do in Turkey.

The Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Nikolaos was constructed in 1320 
by the Dominican brotherhood of Kantia. 

In 1645, the church was later converted into the main mosque of the city, the Mosque of Sultan Ibrahim, also called the Hugar Mosque or Mosque of the Ruler. A minaret was added on its south side, as can be seen on the right.

Chania lighthouse, lit by the dying rays of the sun, is one of the oldest light houses in the world.  

First built by the Venetians between 1595 and 1601, it took its final form, in the shape of a minaret, during the Egyptian Period (1831 - 1841).

St Nicholas Bastion, illuminated at night, is in the middle of the breakwater, and helped 
defend the harbour from raiders. 

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