In the peninsula of Gramvousa, 12 km west of Kissamos, lies the ancient city-state of Falasarna. Populated since mid-Minoan Era until the 1st century B.C., it took its name from Falasarne, the water nymph. The city featured a “closed harbour”, namely an artificially fortified port, with walls, defence towers and docks, connecting, through a canal, to the sea approximately 100 metres away. Its Acropolis, which was built high on the adjacent rocky cape, hosted a temple of, devoutly worshipped, goddess Diktynna.

Ancient Falasarna was an independent city-state of strong trading activity, its own currency and a powerful naval force. Its circa 100-year rivalry with Polyrrhenia, possibly due to territorial dispute, which ended in 290 B.C. The peace treaty between them survives on plaques exhibited at the Kissamos museum. Along with its high trading and naval peak, a few its population turned to piracy, something that, when combined with its fervent resistance to Roman dominance, resulted in its complete destruction by the Roman forces in 67 B.C.

There are modern day plots of land right where the port and canal used to be as land has risen at about 6.5 metres due to the devastating earthquake of 365 B.C. Archaeological excavations unearthed parts of the city’s pottery workshops, parts of the port’s docks and berths, six defence towers, 43 box-shaped tombs along with their grave goods, the public baths, the renowned “Falasarna throne” used for public speeches and other significant finds, which can be marvelled at by visiting the area and the Kissamos Archaeological Museum.

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