the archaeological site of Gortys

Gortys or Gortyn is located 45 km from the Heraklion. It was a very important city during the age of the Minoan civilization.

Gortys, the Roman capital of Crete, was first inhabited around 3000 B.C., and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 B.C.

It prospered during classical and Roman times, and was destroyed by an Arab invasion in A.D. 824. Among archaeologists, ancient historians, and classicists, Gortys is primarily known today because of the 1884 discovery of the Gortyn Code which is both the oldest and most complete known example of a code of ancient Greek law.

Ancient Greek law is a branch of comparative jurisprudence relating to the laws and legal institutions of Ancient Greece.


Greek Iuris law has been partially compared with Roman law, and has been incidentally illustrated with the aid of the primitive institutions of the Germanic nations.

It may now be studied in its earlier stages in the laws of Gortys; its influence may be traced in legal documents preserved in Egyptian papyri; and it may be recognized as a consistent whole in its ultimate relations to Roman law in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire.

The existence of certain Pan-Hellenic principles of law is implied by the custom of settling a difference between two Greek states, or between members of a single state, by resorting to external arbitration.

The general unity of Greek law is mainly to be seen in the laws of inheritance and adoption, in laws of commerce and contract, and in the publicity uniformly given to legal agreements.

GortysGortys OdeonGortys SiteMissing Statues

The code was discovered on the site of the Odeon, a structure built by the Roman emperor Trajan, which reused for the second time stones from an inscription-bearing wall that had been incorporated into the foundation of an earlier Hellenistic structure.

Zeus And Europa Plane Tree

Today, a modern structure at the site of the mostly ruined Odeon houses the stones bearing the famous law code.

Greek mythology has it that the town witnessed one of Zeus' many affairs — with the princess Europa whom the god, disguised as a bull, abducted from Lebanon.

Europe was named after Europa, who conceived her first son with Zeus under a plane tree in Gortys. Gortys was a son of Rhadamanthus, king of Crete and brother of Minos.

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From Heraklion take the road to Tympaki

Archaeological Site of Gortys
Agii Deka
Phone: 28920-31144

Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 18:00

Admission: 4 € (Reduced: 2 €)