Archaeological museum of Kissamos

Archaeological museum of Kissamos

Archaeological museum of Kissamos

The Archaeological Museum of Kissamos is housed in a Venetian-Turkish monument known as the “headquarters”. It is located in the Venetian residential area, which was originally outside the wall of the Venetian castle, “castel Chissamos”, from which the previous name of the town , Kastelli, derives. During the Turkish occupation of the island the castle was enlarged and the building enclosed inside the fortification walls. Over time the monument was remodelled many times; the last one being its recent transformation into this museum in 2000. The exhibits present the history of the Kissamos district from prehistoric times through late antiquity (Early Christian period). The material is displayed according to chronology and geography, and covers two floors.

On a computer screen just inside Room 1 to the right, visitors can see a slide presentation about the A.D. 365 earthquake that destroyed Kissamos as it more or less simultaneously struck the rest of Crete and a wide area of the Mediterranean basin.

Archaeological museum of Kissamos
Archaeological museum of Kissamos


  Room 1 : The exhibit begins with a general chronological table and a map showing the archaeological sites. These are followed by a display of finds from the Minoan excavation at Nopigia, formerly in the community of Drapanias.

  Room 2: This room contains finds from the Geometric to the Hellenistic period that elucidate the development of the two most important city-states in West Crete, Polyrinia and Phalasarna. Both cities became powerful in the Hellenistic period, Polyrinia as a land power and Phalasarna as a naval power.

  Room 3: Presentation of the Hellenistic period continues here with ceramic finds from minor regional towns. The most characteristic pottery produced in western Crete at this time were black-glazed amphoras with applied relief decoration. Important Hellenistic inscriptions and most of the Kissamos sculpture collection are also exhibited, most of which date to the Roman Imperial period.

Under the staircase to the upper floor, part of a Roman bath can be seen in situ. It was excavated during the building’s recent renovation into a museum.

Museum of Kissamos

UPPER FLOOR  The entire upper floor is devoted to the Hellenic-Roman city of Kissamos. It is an effort to present a comprehensive exhibition of the Roman period, which left many monuments in Crete but tends to be overshadowed by the Minoan civilization.

A port on the crossroad  of Mediterranean shipping routes, Kissamos flourished during the Roman Imperial period. Public buildings, especially bath complexes (thermae0, with luxurious marble architecture and sculpture, reveal wealth and a love for decoration. Among the numerous discoveries, the lavish urban villas with elaborate mosaic floors stand out. In addition to stunning mosaics, the villas were furnished with carved marble tables and decorated with marble sculpture and frescoes.

The exhibition begins in the stairwell hall where general information about the period is available. Fresco fragments and carved marble table-supports found in local excavations are also displayed.

  Room 4: This is the largest room in the museum and contains unique mosaic floors with figurative representations, a fragment of an inlaid (opus sectile) floor, a sundial and sculpture from the atria of some of the villas.

  Room 5: This room focuses on the economy of the Hellenic-Roman city, with coins and coin hoards (in a separate showcase), and its trade relations via local and imported amphoras.

  Room 6: These exhibits reveal daily life in the Hellenic-Roman city up to its destruction in A.D. 365 by an earthquake. Domestic vessels and miscellaneous objects made of ceramic, metal and bone are displayed with products of local ceramic and metal workshops. In a separate showcase, metal objects found in the destruction level are displayed. Larger objects, vases and pictures of human bodies buried in the destruction debris are also on view.

  Room 7: This room focuses on the “world of death”. One showcase is devoted to a family burial from the 4th century B.C., an early period in the history of Kissamos. Most of the ther exhibits are grave goods and monuments from the Roman Imperial period. Some finds and inscriptions from early Christian graves are presented which preserve ancient burial customs. They demonstrate that after the calamitous earthquake of A.D. 365, but mainly from the beginning of 5th century A.D., a new religion was established in the town. A separate showcase containing all jewellery of precious material, most of which came from graves, is also in the room.

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Archaeological museum of Kissamos (square)

Our office is on your disposal for any information and of course for renting a bike to explore Kissamos, the historical center and visit the Archaeological Museum of Kissamos

Sourse: Kissamos an ideal place for alternative tourism

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