Gortyn was first inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period (3000 B.C.) and flourished much later, in the Late Minoan period (1600-1100 B.C.), when the villa with the shrine was founded at the site of Kannia, near Metropolis.
Remains of the Archaic habitation (7th century B.C.) were located in the area of the Acropolis, while the large inscription, the Gortyn Law Code, dated to the 5th century B.C., attests the prosperity of the city, which continued until the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd century B.C.).
Gortyn became an ally of Rome and during the Roman period (1st-5th centuries A.D.) reached the peak of its prosperity as the capital of the province of Crete and Cyrene. Here, Apostle Titus preached Christianity and in A.D. 250 the Ten Saints martyred. In A.D. 824 the city, which had become the seat of an Archbishop, was destroyed by the Arabs.
The first investigations on the site were conducted in 1884 by the Italian archaeologist F. Halbherr. Since then, excavations have been carried out by the Italian Archaeological School and the 23rd Ephorate.
Some of the uncovered buildings were consolidated during the excavations. Only the famous Code of Gortyn was incorporated and sheltered within a small building in the north circular wall of the Odeion.
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