Village history
Eat and drink
Real Estate

Palekastro - the village
Willkommen - Bienvenu - Welcome
Palekastro stands on historical soil. Already at Minoan times the region was a centre of trade. The port of Itanos which is today several meters under the water line shows an impressive certification.
And the very extensive Minoan commercial settlement Roussolakkos close to the Chiona beach, excavated by English archaeologists, proves
that the region was obviously one of the most important commercial centres of the Minoan culture in the extreme east of the island of Crete.

Life in Palekastro today
The village remains exempted from the mass tourism. Still the main business of the app. 1100 inhabitants is agriculture. They cultivate olives and wine, there a still a few fisherman. Commercial fishing however is hard these days due to the substantial over fishing of the Mediterranean Sea.

Those who are faced with unemployment or got nothing else to do usually open a "Mini-Market". There are several in that small village and I always wonder how people manage to live with that small income. "It works, more or less", they say. Tourism is supplementary income and it probably will remain.

Sunrise Palekastro © M. Tsantakis

The flat hill "Kastris"
At the east edge of the village visible from far away there's the flat hill called "Kastri(s)". This mountain gave Palekastro its name in the middle ages when the region was dominated by the sovereign power of Venice. On the flat summit they had established a fortress. In the course of the centuries the stones were cleared away and used by the people of the region to build houses. Take a walk up there (app. 30 minutes from Chiona or Kouremenos) and enjoy a unique view over the village, the beaches and the mountains. Best time: early morning or late afternoon.

View to Chiona from "The Kastris''

Ancient site Roussolakkos
Roussolakkos is the only Minoan city to have survived intact. Its harbor, outlying settlements, sanctuaries, and quarries preserved under sediments accumulating over more than 2,000 years. It was here, the ancient authors tell us, that Diktaian Zeus (the youthful Cretan equivalent of the classical Greek god Dionysos) was born and here where the young god founded his holy city. It was also here that Jason and the Argonauts confronted Talos, the man of bronze, a generation before the Trojan War.

Ancient houses Roussolakkos
Bronze age settlement
The earliest written records documenting the worship of Diktaian Zeus at Palaikastro come from the Mycenaean Greek archives at Knossos and date to the close of the Cretan Bronze Age (ca. 1300 b.c.), however, sacred art and architecture dating from all periods has been found, suggesting that the site was hallowed throughout its occupation history. Among the most beautiful artifacts attesting the worship of Diktaian Zeus is a unique gold and ivory statuette of the god made ca. 1500 b.c. See this and more stuff at the museum in Sitia.

Endangered Site
While the ravages of later periods and recent tourism development have obscured similar sites elsewhere in Crete, so far they have spared Roussolakkos, which covers some 30 hectares. Today, however, a private developer has been granted permission to build a large tourist complex at Cape Plako, an area which includes the Minoan quarries and outlying sites. An access road to reach the resort area is planned through the ancient city. In addition to development pressures, Palaikastro's harbor and coastal buildings are also threatened by a rise in sea level due to local tectonic activity.
(By World Monuments Fund)

More on this site:
[British School at Athens]
[Athens news, published 2000]
[Athens News, "What Cretan tephra hides", August 2003]