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Eleftherna

A guided tour of the Prefecture of Rethymnon should definitely include a visit to Eleutherna, the area where the finds of the homonymous ancient city are found. It is not known when the city was actually built but according to scientists there must have been life in the area in the Geometric period, that is 970-820 B.C. It was built on a hill and enclosed with a wall parts of which still survive today. There was a long entrance like a bridge and a tower which protected the sole entrance to the city which was considered impregnable. The aquaduct and reservoirs which were found give evidence of the city’s organization and the level of civilization of the inhabitants. On the north side of the hill there was a temple, possibly that of Apollo, which was used A.D. by Christians for religious purposes. Sculpted tombs on the cliffs and carved sarcophaguses give us information about the civilization of ancient Eleutherna. Eleutherna experienced prosperity during the Roman and Early Byzantine Age. It was one of the most powerful independent cities. Its inhabitants were occupied with trade, agriculture and shipping and the port which was used is surmised to have been the bay of Fodele. Its development becomes obvious from its bridges which surround it and comprise samples of advanced architecture. As an independent power, it provided its own currency, whose one side was decorated by Apollo and the other by Artemes. As an independent city it developed rivalry with Knossos resulting in a war breaking out in 222 B.C. against it and in the same year becoming an ally in the civil war of the cities of Crete. From Eleutherna originates Diogenes Apolloniates, the physicist who lived in the 5th century B.C. and was a student of Anaximenus.

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