Lentas - a mystical place on the south coast of Crete - Ιστορίες, Ρεπορτάζ, Σχολιασμός Κρήτης Blog | e-storieskritis.gr

Σάββατο 13 Μαρτίου 2021

Lentas - a mystical place on the south coast of Crete

Lentas is a coastal village 75 km south of Heraklion, on the south coast of Crete. In ancient times it was an important settlement and a port for Gortyn.

The name Lentas finds its origin in the Phoenician word "Lebena", which meant "white" and which describes the color of the foothill, where the settlement was situated.

Proofs of remainders of a Phoenician settlement are missing however. In the antiquity then probably this name changed into the Greek word Leon (also Levin).

The Minoans withdrew themselves into the east part of Crete - until the Dorians finally conquered the island. Through the Dorians numerous city-states were founded, which enlarged the trade relations of the island.

With the establishment of a welfare center, the Asclepius temple, in the 4th. century before Christ, Lentas (Leion, Levin, Lebena) became famous across its borders.

The temple was established as a satellite of the powerful central temple on the Peloponnese. Beside a temple with statues of god and his daughter Hygeia there was also a treasure house with an underground space, in which the gifts for the god were secured.

A magnificent floor mosaic, which represents a hippocampus (sea-horse), decorates this building section and is preserved.

The building was divided into several pillar halls, gate elbows and large marble stairs.One with a Nymphanian covered spring led the water through a ceramic water pipe into the bath basins.

Adjacent on the holy district both the patients and their companions were accommodated in lodgings and guesthouses. The priests as well were situated there in their own houses.


Visitors from all over Greece and North Africa visited in that time the magnificently equipped hot springs with their healing waters.

The famous hot springs and the developing of a harbor surely helped the place to prosperity. The port at that time belonged however to the metropolis Gortys which was situated land inward, which took the port settlement Lentas with support of the city Knossos in the year 219 B.C. in possession.

By conquering, the entire Messara Gortys developed an important center of power with trade relations to Egypt and Syria. Lentas was not independent during this important time; we know that Lentas did not have its own currency.

The Asclepios temple was several times converted and changed during its history, so that original Greek architecture has hardly remained. In particular, the momentous earthquake in 46 B.C. had inflicted considerable damage.

Rome finally conquered Crete in 67 B.C. The inhabitants of Gortys allied themselves with the new ruling powers and thus could save their city from destruction.

The Romans made Gortys the capital of Crete, structured this to a magnificent city and transferred the administration of the province "Creta et Cyrenaica" to Gortys.


The Romans as well visited the Asclepios temple frequently and fitted it in the 3rd and 4th century in Roman architecture, by adding emperor hot springs.

In the 4th and 5th century, Christianity became generally accepted, and the Asclepios cult lost its meaning. The sanctuary was destroyed as pagan worship and was used as a quarry.

Beside the formerly holy district, an early Christian basilica was established, for this building mainly antique components of the temple were used. Still today, one can regain the built-in marble columns sections in the current church.

With the decline of the Asclepios temple the place Lentas lost its importance. Numerous conquerors of the island - Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians, Turks and occasionally pirates - alternated.

In the middle of the 19th century, archaeologists started with the first excavations, which have been systematically continued. A wide strip around the place is a protected area that prevents building large hotels and therefore Lentas will always remain this little, idyllic fishing village at the Libyan sea.

(Information from lentas-online)