In the west coast of Crete at the tip of Gramvousa cape, the walls of the ancient naval city Falassarna are risen. The city with the prehellenic name was built on the peninsula Castri. From the top of it, the city was able to take control of all the marine trade of Italy and North Africa from 333 BC until 67 BC.

The ancient geographer Skylax mentions the artificial walled port of the city, whereas the name Falasarna is mentioned to all the geographical affairs of the ancient towels (Stravon X, 474 , Ptolemeus 3 , 15,2, Stadiasmus 336). Thanks to the geographer Dionysius Kalifontis, we have the information that in Falasarna there was a temple of Artemis - Dictinas, the Cretan goddess of hunting, while on the top of the acropolis visitors can see at least 3 sanctuaries, public buildings, fortress water tanks etc. The biggest sources of the city wellness were the powerful merchant fleet, the perfect knowledge of the naval issues, and the merchants’ activities who were exchanging products with all the kingdoms of the Hellenistic world. However, on top of all was the excellent knowledge of the men of Falasarna on army issues and their skills on martial arts which enabled them to hold important places as counselors in high army posts of the greatest Hellenistic Kingdoms.

Despite the wellness the constant wars between the Cretan cities, as well as the frequent tectonic quakes and the geoctonical sinking of the region weakened Falasarna financially and lead the inhabitants seek for new income sources, following the example of other coastal Cretan cities who became pirates near the middle of 2nd century BC.

Its geographical position, naval power and basically the excellent fortification of its port made all the pirate activities successful. During the late Hellenistic years the people of Falasarna became successful pirates, mercenaries of the Macedonians and international slaves traders. In 67 BC, the Romans, during their efforts to stop the Cretan piracy, destroy the city of Falassarna completely.

The monuments that weren’t destroyed by the Romans, were buried through the ages because of the huge tidal waves which were formed during the destructive earthquakes in 66 AD and 365 AD, in fact, saved the ruins and kept them untouched under tones of soil. The tectonic action was so strong that the west side of Crete raised for about 6-9 meters. That’s why the famous two-entrance port is today located in a distance of 100-200 m. off the coast.

The excavations in this area have started since 1986 and are still going on under the management and surveillance of the archaeologist Mrs Elpida Hadjidaki. The findings are exhibited in the Kissamos Museum.

The harbour of Falassarna was established in an existing basin, which was dredged and reshaped. Access to the open sea was achieved by building a canal from the port to the sea that was also functioning as a drainage work. This canal was most probably walled and sealed by a chain, in order to create the "limen kleistos", as mentioned in Skylax (47). A second canal, which intersected the first one, discharged further north and was built probably for preventing siltation in the port.

The main basin, 75x100m wide, was enclosed by walls and protected with at least four fortification towers. In the inner side of the walls quays equipped with mooring stones were built. A stone stepladder was also discovered.

In the middle of 2nd century B.C. a second port basin was created northern than the first one. Its entrance was built from the remainders of a fortification tower. A small canal (50x50cm.) allowed water circulation.

The existing walls-quays were used for mooring. The harbour was constructed around 335 B.C. By the middle of 2nd c. B.C. the second basin was formed. The entrance to the harbour was made via an artificial canal, 100m long, which was formed through the marsh and the rocky beach, at the south of the basin.

Falassarna bay seems to be active since Middle Minoan period as a naval station, in the form of a natural protected basin communicating with the sea. Around the middle of 4th century B.C. works took place in the basin and the entrance, so the city of Falassarna acquired a modern internal closed harbour that determined its peak, being an important naval trading and warfare center.

Sea level rose about 20cm until the 2nd century B.C. and the port's functionality was affected, forcing builders to intervene and elevate the surrounding construction levels.

After the 2nd century B.C. the port was used as a pirate hideout, which drew the Romans attention and led to its destruction. Boulders found in the canal prove that the entrance was deliberately blocked, while stone bullets located in the basin are evidence of hostilities. Total annihilation occurred during the 4th century A.D., probably in 365 A.D., when the whole area rose by about 6.6m due to a severe earthquake. The city and the port were buried irreversibly by tectonic action.

Falassarna, Kissamos, Crete, Greece, Tel.:+30 28220 41485, Fax: +30 28220 41485, email: info@hotelgoldensun.net
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