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Kasteli Kissammos
Chania, Crete
Tel: 28220 23300-4
Fax: 28220 23304
Mob: 6974 422929
Zip: 73400

Sights in the area


Polyrinia: One of the more powerful city-states in Minoan Crete

Ancient Polyrinia was in Minoan Crete and for many centuries one of the most powerful city-states in Crete, which was famous for the military abilities of its army. We could say, without exaggeration, that Polyrinia was to ancient Crete what Sparta was to ancient mainland Greece.

Polyrinia is in a distance of a few kilometers from Kastelli Kissamos and Elena Beach hotel. The ancient city was founded in the archaic period by the Achaeans, and it was built in high altitude on top of a hill. The exact position of the city offers excellent view to the surrounding area, which at that period was very important for defense purposes.

The ancient city of Polyrinia had, according to many historians, the strongest fortification in Crete in its era. Today you can still see the remnants of these historic fortifications.

Although that, due to historical references, the main occupation of the residents of Polyrinia was initially the livestock, gradually the residents of the city-state became very well known for their martial virtues. Aggressive and warlike, the residents of Polyrinia constituted a continuous threat for every city-state and settlement in West Crete.

A striking feature of ancient Polyrinia was that, as its residents were both excellent warriors and competent merchants, Polyrinia was historically one of the first ancient cities that were systematically occupied with the construction and the trade of weapons. Thanks to this occupation, Polyrinia became very rich in the ancient years, and issued its own currency, something that only the richest city-states of the era could do.

A well known story among Crete historians is the one regarding the troubled relations between Polyrinia and ancient Kydonia, which was located near present-day Chania city. As the first was the most powerful city in West Crete, regarding its military, and the latter was the most powerful city in West Crete, regarding its economy and politics, there was constantly intense competition between them. Many times during the ancient years Polyrinia and Kydonia were involved in war, the main causes or causations of them being various territorial claims, the allocation of natural resources, and the growth of their sphere of influence.

During the Roman period, Polyrinia made a risky but clever strategically move, by forming an alliance with the Roman conquerors, something that for the first time in history gave to Polyrinia the political advantage from its eternal opponent, Kydonia. The city continued to flourish during the Roman era, while at that same period the two ports of Polyrinia, Kissamos and Falassarna, also flourished. Gradually, the residents of Polyrinia began to move from the city to the port of Kissamos, which finally became the biggest residential center in the area. Polyrinia was still inhabited, by a gradually declining population, until the Byzantine years, when it was finally abandoned by its last residents.

What has finally been left from Polyrinia, this very powerful ancient city, is its impressive fortification, which later was repaired and used for centuries by the Venetians, and which is today visible in many parts of this historic site. The present-day village of Polyrinia, which has been built next to the location of the homonymous historic ancient city, owes largely its existence to ancient Polyrinia: many remnants from the ancient city were used as raw material for the building of the houses and the buildings of the village.

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