The Ancient City of Aptera is one of the most significant archeological sites in Chania and a visit to the site will allow you to familiarize yourself with one of the most powerful ancient cultures that flourished in Crete. It is located near Souda, on Paleokastro hill, a magnificent location with amazing views of both the mountains and the sea.
Ancient Aptera lasted many centuries during Antiquity, as findings dating from the Minoan Era to the Roman Period suggest.
The city's development reached its peak during the Hellenistic Period thanks to trading, political development and of course, the strategic location within a short distance from some of the island's major ancient ports.
Gradually, the city's commercial power became so great that they were able to mint their own coins depicting king Apteras and the goddess Artemis, the protector of the city. As a result, Ancient Aptera grew to become one of the main trading centers in the region.
Its decline as a commercial and political center started during the Roman Times and the town was destroyed by an earthquake in 365 AD. However, it did not become abandoned until the Byzantine years.
The findings you can currently see in the archeological site date to various periods. Some of the most impressive ones include the Roman cisterns and baths, the ruins of a Roman villa, the building of the ancient parliament, a Doric temple, an ancient theater and the ruins of houses and other buildings.
Fortification facilities also survive, including the 3.5 kilometer long walls that enclosed Aptera.
In addition, an ancient burial site is located in the city, as well as more recent constructions, including two Ottoman fortresses (Koules and Itzedin), two German military machines from the German occupation years and the monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos that was made with fragments of the ancient city's ruins and was fully functional until the 1960's.
Archeological excavations in this area began around 1850 and they still haven't finished, with large sections of the city remaining buried. The ancient theater is one of the most recent discoveries. All other findings besides the ancient ruins have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Chania, including coins, jewelry and other small objects.
How to get there: The best way to reach Ancient Aptera is by car or taxi. It is also possible to get to a nearby location by bus, although you will need approximately one extra hour to walk to the site so it is not recommended, especially during the summer.
Additional information: The archeological site is open on a daily basis during the summer season, from 08:00 to 18:00, except for Mondays. The site remains closed on all public holidays as well.
The entrance fee is €4, while visitors under 25 years of age enter for free.
The only facilities available are a car parking area and a WC, while a leaflet can be provided while purchasing your ticket to help you navigate around the site.
It will take you around 2 hours to see the entire site.