The ancient city-state of Polyrrhenia lies 6 km south of Kissamos and is amphitheatrically built on a 418 m high hill, featuring a T-shaped acropolis. It was populated since prehistoric times and played a significant role up until the Roman Era. Its name means “one that is rich in sheep” but, according to historic sources, its dwellers, apart from being herders, were actively involved in military training and were skilful warriors. Findings prove the city was fortified, had Cyclopean walls and featured an effective water supply and drainage system.

The temple of Diktynna Artemis lied in the area that is nowadays called Chalkoklissa, over which the church of Holy Fathers was built in 1894 from the ruins of the former. Polyrrhenia was Kydonia’s rival – modern day Chania –, which accounts for not taking part in the war of Kydonians and Knossians against Romans. Following the victory of the latter, Polyrrhenia revelled in the privileges and benefits granted by Roman emperors such as various construction works. Proof of this is the statue of Metellus Pius, erected in the city, with its base surviving to this day.

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