South of the centre of Crete are the remains of a ruined basilica, the Christian remains of Gortynís former glory.
For the construction of the basilica in the 6th and the 7th centuries, many of the architectural elements of the surrounding ancient ruins were also used. During construction, there was no lack of decorative old capitals, as Gortyn was once one of the most important cities in Crete.
Gortyn became famous among archaeologists due to a sensational discovery within the walls of a nearby Roman Odeon. Twelve stone blocks that bore inscriptions from the Classical period of around 500 years BC, were built into the wall of a small amphitheatre by its Roman creators. The stones contained sections of the great legal code of Gortyn. In using this material, the Romans managed to preserve one of the best kept legal texts of ancient Greece.
Although nature has buried many of its treasures, even today a few magnificent statues still manage to reflect the former size and wealth of the city of Gortyn.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.