Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.
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Ancient city of Polyrinia

The region of western Crete abounds primarily in natural attractions. The most beautiful Cretan beaches, mountains, gorges are places attracting crowds of tourists and supporters of active leisure every year. On the other hand, lovers of history and excavations in this region do not have much to watch. In fact, apart from Aptera or excavations in Falassarna, there are no major archaeological sites here. Smaller traces of the past are of course spread all over the island, but in the western part you will not find magnificent Minoan palaces or villas. Therefore, archeology fans in this area of Crete should pay attention to the remains of ancient Polyrinia. Although it is one of the most interesting archaeological sites, it still remains little known among tourists.

Polyrinia (Polirinia, Polyrrhenia, Polirrinia) is located about 45 km west of Chania. To get here, head towards Kissamos, where at the beginning of the village you should look for a signpost for Polyrinia. After leaving the New National Road less than 8 km separating it from Kissamos you have to overcome a narrow winding road that climbs the surrounding hills.

Polirynia - village - ancient remains Roman aqueduct

History of the city of Polyrinia

Polyrinia was one of the most important city-states of western Crete during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It was built amphitheater on a steep hill, rising to a height of 481 meters above sea level. From its top there is an impressive view of the Cretan and Libyan Sea and the picturesque surroundings. The city was probably founded by the Achaeans in 1100 BC, and its full flowering occurred in the Roman period. It is worth noting that although the history of this place began in the Minoan period, it continues to this day. You won't find a magnificent city here, but only a calm and somewhat sleepy village, in which the remains of the former splendor of this place are woven.


Polyrinia was the most fortified city of ancient Crete that dominated the western part of the island. It developed close trade relations with Sparta, Milos, Rhodes, Thebes, the coast of ancient Ionia and Egypt. Ships with cargo docked at both Kissamos and the ancient Falassarna, as both of these places served as ports in Polyrinia. In addition to trade, the city was also known for breeding, some of its inhabitants engaged in shepherding. The name of the city indicates just such a direction of development, polla rinia means many lambs / sheep.

During the Roman invasion of Crete, when the city was conquered by the Romans, Polyrinia decided to paradoxically support its invaders. Thanks to this catwalk, the city was not destroyed. It is worth remembering that Gortyna adopted a similar tactic. Both cities gained position and privileges thanks to their support of the Romans.

The inhabitants of Polyrinia quickly erected a monument to the Roman conqueror of Crete, Quintus Metellus, while the Romans constructed a water supply system with an aqueduct and fountains in a newly conquered place. It was a gift for new allies from Emperor Hadrian.


Polyrinia, thanks to the new Roman allies, defeated its eternal rival, which was the most powerful city of western Crete: today's Chania, or then Kydonia. Undoubtedly, the takeover of the Sanctuary of Diktynna located on Cape Spatha on the nearby Rodopou Peninsula was an undoubted profit. Control over this place has always been a source of conflict between ancient Kydonia and Polyrinia. The proof of the importance of this sanctuary was a paved road with a length of 11 Roman miles, or over 16 km, connecting Diktinna with Polyrinia.

In its heyday, Polyrinia was very wealthy and powerful. From the 4th century to the Roman period, the city minted its own coins with the head of a bull on one side and the image of Zeus on the other. The bull's head motif also appeared in the city's coat of arms.

Polirynia - church of 99 Fathers - view from afar The hill on which Polyrynia is located

On the Polyrinia acropolis there was a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Nowadays, the stones from this building were used to build the church of 99 Saints, which was built at the end of the 19th century in 1894 in the place where the temple of Artemis was built in ancient times.


Polirynia - Church of 99 Fathers Church of 99 Saints

Stones with inscriptions, treatises and dedications were also used to build the church. But not only they were used to build a modern temple. An ancient altar, which is part of the eastern wall of a modern building, has also been used.

According to myths, winning Agamemnon, returning from the Trojan war, stopped in Polyrinia. His ships anchored in Honi (today's Nopigia), and he went to the temple of Artemis in Polyrinia to sacrifice to the gods there. During this ceremony, he saw his naval fleet burn on fire by prisoners of war. Agamemnon stopped making sacrifices to return to ships as soon as possible. The story "Cretan sacrifices " that refers to incomplete desires and goals has remained after this story.

From 1938, no excavations were carried out in Polyrinia. Thus, today's visible ruins are the highest "layer" dated to the Roman and Middle Ages.

The walls surrounding the top of the hill were built on top of the previous ones. They have been modified in each period and now have fragments representing Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Venetian techniques.

Visiting Polyrinia

Located between vast hills, surrounded by sleepy villages and modern olive groves, Polyrinia not only stores the remains of ancient civilization, but also offers magnificent views of the Bay of Kissamos and the picturesque surroundings. That is why visiting this place is worth starting with climbing the former Acropolis.


Polirynia - path Lower fragment of the path leading to the Acropolis


Following the signposts of Ancient Polyrrhenia Acropolis, you must first bypass the modern village and drive a bit on a steep road, passing the Acropolis tavern. You can leave your car nearby or drive further near the 99 Saints church and the church cemetery located here. Then go on foot along the path that slowly climbs up, winding initially along the southern and later the eastern part of the hill. Although the path has been clearly marked, it is now led between quite thick and sharp thickets. Unfortunately, after this trip, especially if you walk in shorts here, you will probably have scratched legs.

The path sometimes runs along the walls of the former city, and the higher you go, the more traces of the former city-state you will come across on your way. Going to the top of the hill you will pass a small chapel and the remains of Roman tanks. It is worth to be vigilant here because in its present form these old water tanks are simply large holes in the ground located next to the path.

Entering the top of the hill takes about 15-20 minutes, being at the very top is worth looking around because the views are really impressive.


Polirynia - the top of the Acropolis Ancient acropolis

On the hill are the remains of the ancient Acropolis and Byzantine fort. Parts of the defensive walls reinforced with towers have survived to this day. On the eastern side of the fortifications there is an arched gate, which was one of the secondary entrances to the city.

In the city itself there were characteristic rock-carved houses and they have survived to our times. They can be seen in today's Polyrinia.

Contemporary village of Polyrinia

After leaving the Acropolis, it is necessary to go down or go down to the modern village. Signs and signposts placed here lead to the most interesting historical places.


The most important of them include, first of all, the remains of a Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct, along with rock-carved tankers, built in different places on the hill, collected water and distributed it around the city. He provided water supply not only to residents, but also supplied public fountains. Water supply was regulated by a movable dam, and any excess water was directed to a tank dug in the rock.

One of the main tunnels of the aqueduct is located at the bottom of the modern settlement, near the semicircular tower, to which it is connected by a special channel passing through the foundations. This combination had tactical significance, because during a possible siege you could protect the water reserves. This architectural complex of fortifications and water supply facilities was a major technological achievement. Interestingly, this ancient water supply system supposedly works effectively to this day.

Other interesting places that are worth paying attention to are the building with Venetian arches, a nice small stone church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and outside the village the already mentioned church of 99 Fathers erected on the site of the former temple of Artemis. In addition to watching historical remains, it is also worth paying attention to the village itself, which is full of charming nooks.


Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Polirynia Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Near the road leading to the Sirikari Gorge is the cemetery of ancient Polyrinia, where there are tombs carved in the rock. A steep, narrow dirt road leads there, so if you also want to see this place, it is best to go on foot.

At the end of the tour, it is worth going to the Acropolis tavern, which you pass by at the beginning. You won't find such delicious home-made Cretan cuisine as the owners here.

Polirynia - Acropolis Tavern Acropolis Tavern

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Interesting places on Crete

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Polirynia
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Komentarze

 Aleksandra Ficek
Aleksandra Ficek
2020-03-08 20:55:31

Cudowne miejsce! Warto przejść 10 km w jedną stronę dla takiego widoku! ❤

1
 CRETE - Kreta
CRETE - Kreta
2020-03-08 21:06:17

Skąd szłaś?

 Aleksandra Ficek
Aleksandra Ficek
2020-03-08 21:07:26

CRETE - Kreta z Kissamos :)

1
 Kamil Huszczo
Kamil Huszczo
2020-03-09 05:29:16

Aleksandra ciężko było wejść ale widok zrekompensował trud :D

1
 Mariola Maj
Mariola Maj
2020-03-12 10:33:37

Tam nie bylismy

 CRETE - Kreta
CRETE - Kreta
2020-03-13 14:38:06

Trzeba będzie nadrobić zaległości w sprzyjających okolicznościach.

 Mariola Maj
Mariola Maj
2020-03-13 14:38:53

CRETE - Kreta koniecznie

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