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

Alan Dempster (3 years ago)
Amazing. Really interesting, and great value for money.
Dr. Ian Smith (3 years ago)
Great place to visit and get an appreciation of Minoan life. Watch out for the miserable gatekeeper though. Hates her job and actually locked a couple inside the complex when she closed up at 3.00 pm. They were trying to get out at 3.30!!!
James Shoemark (3 years ago)
Love this place, unique in the Minoan sites and free from Tour Guides and the hordes following them
David Frost (3 years ago)
Well worth a trip. Very interesting site - a whole Minoan town, including palace, cobbled roads, and so on.
Denisa Jančíková (3 years ago)
Very interesting and well-described ruins of old Minoan palace. It is smaller than the one in Knossos but also less visited and more authentic so you can really enjoy walking there without big crowds everywhere. It has also beautiful sea view and nature around. Small nice and empty beaches around for cooling down in hot weather are another bonus of this stunning place. Worth to visit or at least to stop when passing by!
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Late Antiquity and Byzantine periods

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