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Ancient Rizinia

Place description

Atop the hill of Patella, near the village of Prinias in the Malevizi province, you’ll find the charming chapel of Saint Panteleimon, offering breathtaking views in every direction. Patela is home to the ancient Minoan town of Rizinia or Apollonia, which thrived until the Roman era. Excavations by the Italian Archaeological School uncovered a small 5th-century BC fort with metal weaponry, two 7th-century BC temples (one likely dedicated to Rhea), and a temple dedicated to the Minoan Goddess of Snakes.

Notable discoveries include a frieze featuring horsemen, deer, and panthers, two seated goddess statues, and pottery sherds that confirm the worship of Athena in the 2nd century BC. An inscription with the letters (I)ZENIA(A), also found on inscriptions at Gortyn, was crucial in identifying the city as Rizinia. Every four years, Rizinia provided animals for sacrifice to the Idaean cave.

A road from Prinias leads to the hill of the ancient city, followed by a short uphill path. This large, extensive archaeological site is definitely worth exploring. Almost across the road, a cemetery has been discovered, and on the way to the village of Asites, you’ll come across the Siderospilies (Iron Caves) – Roman-era tombs carved into soft limestone. Don’t miss the carved wine presses at Patitiria, the Patella waterfall, and the unique rock formations known as Grias Pites, all located beneath Patella.

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