In ancient times Falassarna included the promontory with the hill of the acropolis, above the city harbour.
The harbour of Falassarna
The harbour of Falassarna measured 100 m x 75 m and was the only “closed” harbour in West Crete.
The harbour-builders exploited the local lagoon, digging a channel to the sea 50 m long, 10 m wide and 2 m deep.
The harbour was particularly secure and the city walls extended along the harbour moles, making it a major naval and trading centre.
The name Falassarna is attributed to the local nymph Falassarne, a sort of local heroine. The city flourished particularly during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, probably arising from the merger of various small settlements. Excavations in the wider area have shown that it was inhabited from the Early Minoan period onwards, with a settlement at the south end of the beach dating from this time.
The ideal position of Falassarna at the western end of Crete, with a direct maritime link to Alexandria in Egypt, certainly contributed to its prosperity. However, the local sailors did not limit their activities to peaceful trading; like the inhabitants of other coastal cities of the time, they were also particularly fond of piracy.
The fall of Falassarna