Updated: Aug 17, 2019
As the first tourist will shortly arrive in the village of Makrigialos we wanted to highlight some of its history. As explained on our main page of our Makrigialos section, the village is named after the long stretch of sandy beaches all along its coast, featuring shallow and crystal clear waters that offers safe swimming, especially for children. The beaches of Makrigialos are lined with a good variety of tavernas to suit all tastes, the fishing port being one of the most picturesque part of the small village. It was not possible that also the ancients could have ignored such a wonderful site.
Just above this harbour which is located west of Makrigialos and up to the hill, you will see the archeological excavations done in the seventies that revealed a Minoan and Roman villa that dates back to the post Minoan period. The villas that revealed are very important for the study of Minoan architecture because it constitutes the micrography of a Minoan palace at that time.
The villa had strong outer walls, inner courts, many rooms with thresholds, flagged floors and areas perhaps connected with the worship of the Sacred Tree. It must have been roofed with bamboo canes covered by a layer of clay, as a number of the older traditional village houses in Makrigialos still are. Among the most important movable finds were vessels of pottery and stone, figurines and an amygdaloid seal-stone of steatite engraved with a representation of a Sacred Ship. Excavations also showed that the villa had been destroyed by fire.
A bit towards Makrigialos and near the church of the Dormition of the Virgin, remains of a Roman villa have been excavated. These excavations have started in 1977 and are not yet completed. It shows that there were large domestic establishments in this villa, datable from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. Several rooms have been discovered and the whole excavation so far, covers an area of roughly half an acre. The general arrangement of the rooms surrounds an open court. Doorways with thresholds of porous stone open onto a court.
Also found was a burial room in which the main tomb was built up. Several great marble slabs of good quality and in different colours and thicknesses were also found. Water pipes and open channels carried water from cisterns to the buildings and gardens. The almost complete absence of movable finds and architectural members from such a wealth of ruins is surprising. The site must have been systematically looted, perhaps by pirates in the Byzantine era, and others more recently. Source info is from N.Papadakis, Archaeologist,1983.
More recently and before any tourism had discovered the area, the picture above shows the harbour of Makrigialos some 50 years ago. Nowadays its changed to a picturesque small harbour with local fishing boats bringing every day fresh fish to the local restaurants.
Check also our activities overview on our home page for things to do in the area of Makrigialos and in other parts of East Crete. Enjoy beautiful trips to Sitia, Kato Zakros, the Monastery of Toplou, Vai beach, Xerokambos or just relax on one of the quiet and sandy Makrigialos beaches.