Gournia ~ the Minoan Crete Pompeii

Gournia Travel Blog

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Excellent signs ~ Harriet Boyd Hawes worked from 1901 to 1904

Gournia .... We finally visited it after we had explored the outer area the previous evening.  (It was a  more fun inside than looking in after it closed ....)

In 1901 George Perakis (who excavated the Vasilki site) led Harriet Boyd, the American archaeologist to the Minoan site of Gournia.  The site was not buried and the streets could be seen. The name Gournia means stone water trough and many of the Gournia homes had one.

Entered the front area (modern trash can)
Boyd recognized the importance of the site and excavated the palace, central court, houses and streets between 1901 and 1904. The town is built on a sloping hill and the stone paved streets are both up and across. It is really impressive from the lower area.

We heard it ’s called the Pompeii of the Minoan Crete, probably because it ’s an entire town excavated instead of just a palace and servant quarters. The town was a working town with many trades represented: bronze smith, carpenter, potters and farmers. It was two storied houses where the second story was the living areas although these have not survived. Instead the storage areas and workshops on the ground level are easily seen.

If you walk to the top area you can see the palace area.  The palace area has a view of the water. There is a central courtyard and Mycenean shrine.

sign telling about finds and house of bronze smith
The palace was very small and likely occupied by a governor appointed by the Knossos ruler. It has a shrine in the center as well as a public shrine. There is an ~ L ~ shaped area where it is thought people sat as they watched performances or ceremonies. There was a large court yard that was also for ceremonies and probably for the town market.

When it was excavated, one house had an ancient wine press on a bench . Below the press was a hole in the floor. A wine amphora was placed in the hole and filled with grape juice for fermenting. The signage said,  quote, This room is a 3500 year old version of the Greek patitiri for pressing grapes in the traditional Crete villages. end quote.

Another house was a bronzesmith home. Bronze nail and scraps were found as well as an anvil for pounding the metal.

Gournia was occupied as early as 3000 BC. It was suddenly abandoned in 1450 BC when it was destroyed by an earthquake and fire. Most of the ruins are only waist high. The items discovered there are housed at the archeological museum in Herelion.

We visited the site for several hours. We were really impressed by the stepped streets going up and by the clear signage. This site is not well visited but we felt it was really worth seeing.

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Excellent signs ~ Harriet Boyd Haw…
Excellent signs ~ Harriet Boyd Ha…
Entered the front area (modern tra…
Entered the front area (modern tr…
sign telling about finds and house…
sign telling about finds and hous…
house beyond the sign
house beyond the sign
A gournia ...
A gournia ...
David walking the streets
David walking the streets
looking across the ruins
looking across the ruins
road / stairway leading up
road / stairway leading up
House with wine press signage
House with wine press signage
Bench the wine press was on with h…
Bench the wine press was on with …
Narrow area for storage vessels
Narrow area for storage vessels
looking across the town
looking across the town
Yeah, we love Greece!
Yeah, we love Greece!
house wall with Gournia
house wall with Gournia
sign showing different items found…
sign showing different items foun…
signs showing where ancient items …
signs showing where ancient items…
signage
signage
Model of the palace
Model of the palace
paved walkway or roads in the town
paved walkway or roads in the town
palace area
palace area
palace area
palace area
ceremonial area
ceremonial area
ceremonial area
ceremonial area
sign
sign
sacred stone with sign
sacred stone with sign
Gournia stones
Gournia stones
stones stacked (we dont know what…
stones stacked (we don't know wha…
gournia stone water trough
gournia stone water trough
a neat rock in the wall
a neat rock in the wall
central courtyard stairs
central courtyard stairs
the shrine
the shrine
shrine
shrine
shrine sign
shrine sign
cactus
cactus
tourist...
tourist...
steps
steps
bench
bench
one of the village homes
one of the village homes
potters wheel
potters wheel
vases
vases
signage
signage
house
house
house with a stone shelf
house with a stone shelf
the stairway
the stairway
this might have been the sacrifici…
this might have been the sacrific…
stone from top
stone from top
looking across ceremonial area
looking across ceremonial area
Gournia
Gournia
My best friend and favorite tourist
My best friend and favorite tourist
Gournia area
Gournia area
Rock
Rock
gournia
gournia
gournia
gournia
gournia
gournia
walls
walls
paving
paving
residential area
residential area
steps and walls of gournia
steps and walls of gournia
looking back at gournia
looking back at gournia
overview of gournia
overview of gournia
gournia
gournia
Gournia
photo by: sylviandavid