Archaeological site, Cave, Homeric city, Neolithic finds, Minoan sacred cave, Minoan mansion, Ancient port, Homeric name
The beach of Amnissos lies about 7,5 km from the city of Heraklion. It overlooks the islet of Dia, which was a very important religious site in Minoan times. Just one km inland from Amnissos, near the village Elia, you can visit the extraordinary Cave of Eileithyia.
The beautiful sandy beach of Amnissos is very close to the city of Heraklion (7,5 km). The beach overlooks the islet of Dia, which played an important role in Minoan times. According to the Greek mythology, Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, was kidnapped from the palace of Knossos, brought to Dia and killed.However, Amnisos has been inhabited since Neolithic times. In Minoan times it was a port for Knossos, from which Idomeneus and his 90 ships set sail to take part in the Trojan War.Archeologists have discovered in a villa of 1600 BC the extraordinary Fresco of the Lilies, which is on display in the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. The settlement has been completely destroyed by fire, as all the other Minoan settlements, apparently due to the catastrophic eruption of the Santorini volcano. One kilometre inland from Amnissos is the Cave of Eileithyia, a significant ancient site. History of The first habitation in the area of Palaiochora (Amnissos) dates from the Middle Minoan period (19th century B.C.). The site is mentioned as a-mi-mi-so in the Linear B tablets. The Minoan "Villa of the Lilies" was destroyed by fire in the 15th century B.C. but complexes C and E continued to be inhabited until the 12th century B.C. In the Archaic period (7th century B.C.) the sanctuary of Zeus Thenatas was founded and remained in use until the 2nd century A.D. After a long period of abandonment, the hill was again inhabited during the Venetian occupation. The first excavations of the site were conducted at the villa by Spyridon Marinatos in 1929-1938. Parts of the "Mycenaean" settlement (LM III period) were later excavated by Stylianos Alexiou. In 1983-85 the buildings were cleared and drawn by the Archaeological Institute of the University of Heidelberg, under the direction of Jorg Schaefer.Consolidation works and clearing are carried out at intervals by the 23rd Ephorate at the "Villa of the Lilies" and the sanctuary of Zeus.
Amnissos is a tourist area with a sandy beach located at the estuary of the river Karteros, about 7 km east of Heraklion, within very easy reach from the city by car, taxi or frequently run public buses.The river of Karteros (nowadays only a stream,) took its name after the Byzantine General Karteros who landed in the area in order to attack the Arabs who occupied the island of Crete that time.According to Strabo, in Minoan times Amnissos was the port and the dockyards of Knossos. Excavations revealed ruins of ancient Amnissos with several complexes of buildings, the most important of which is a Minoan building probably owned by a navy official, known as the "Villa or the Mansion of the Lilies", famous for the frescoes with blossomed lilies. Unfortunately, a significant part of the building was badly destroyed by fire. A cave which was the most important place of worship of Eiyitheia, goddess of childbirth, was discovered 1 km south of Amnisos, at the end of the 19th century. The cave, where, according to the Greek mythology, Eilytheia helped women have a painless delivery, was also known as the cave of the Nymphs. On the nearby hill of Paliochora, at the settlement of Messovouni, are the ruins of a Venetian village, dating back to the Venetian domination in the 16th century.
It is also worth seeing the churches of Aghios Nikon and Aghios Ioannis (St.John the Baptist) in Karteros. Swimming and sea sport facilities are available at the sandy beaches of Karteros and Amnissos. Hotels of various categories, studios and rooms to let are available for lodging in the villages. Eating is an easy thing: A taste of local specialities, traditional Greek dishes and fast food delicacies are offered in taverns, restaurants, fast food and cafes in the area.