The Late Minoan town of Gournia was excavated by Harriet Boyd in the first years of the 20th century. The original name of the settlement is not known and its present name comes from the hollow vessels found all over the site, many of which can still be seen at the entrances to the rooms. Gournia lies on a small hill, a few hundred metres from the sea in the Gulf of Mirabello. Its position is important as it lies on the east to west route along the north coast of Crete.

From pottery finds it is known that groups of neolithic people were settled in the area around Gournia in the period up to 3000 BCE. The next evidence we have for settlement in the area dates to 2500 BCE in the Early Minoan period.

Around 1700 BCE parts of the top of the town were levelled off and a new stage of building began, giving us the town as we see it today. A palace is built for the first time, and this represents a major change in the way society in the Gournia area is organised. As happened previously in other parts of Crete when a palace was built, the surrounding villages were abandoned as the population was presumably incorporated into the new town.

Possessing some 50 well-preserved houses, a system of cobbled streets, a central court, a Minoan palace, and cemetery, Gournia gives today the visitor the best picture of what a Late Bronze Age (1500 BC) town looked like. Gournia was a regional production center of bronze tools and weapons, domestic objects, and pottery and stone vases, an active trade emporium with overseas connections to other parts of the Aegean and the Near East, and the palatial administrative center for the Mirabello region. Its harbor complex consists of a monumental shipshed, fortification walls with towers, a riverside dam, and a cobbled street running from the coast to Town. 

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Founded: 1700 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

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4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Serena Aglio (5 months ago)
Beautiful. Just there isn't enough information that explain how the site might have been in the past. However intriguing visit and beautiful view. Easy to access and park your car.
rudolph schneider (6 months ago)
Definitely worth visiting if you come by car. There isn't that much information, which is a pity but the place will leave you speechless.
Alan Joynson (6 months ago)
Impressive remains dating from circa 3500 BC. Just lower levels still visible now but you can clamber all over them. Only €3. Toilet available onsite.
Bart Van den Bosch (7 months ago)
Best preserved Minoan town in Crete. The lower parts of the walls of the houses are still standing and this clearly shows the layout of the village. It is easy to get a feel of how busy it must have been in all these little streets between these small houses.
Peter Worley (7 months ago)
Well worth spending an hour or two walking round these Minoan ruins. The site is in a beautiful location with views across the sea to Agios Nikolaos. Although there are no full buildings left standing, you can walk through what were clearly streets lined with houses and the remains of a palace dating back thousands of years. It's only 3 euros entrance and there were only 5 or 6 other visitors when we went.
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