Plans are underway to make the Eleftherna region in the prefecture of Rethymno, Crete, an important tourist destination for visitors to view the archaeological treasures found in the area in a new museum.

Professor Nikos Stampolidis, whose name has become associated with the finds in ancient Eleftherna and the museum, focused on the need to link culture with tourism during an event organised by the Grecotel group and the Nikos Daskalantonakis Foundation.

He showcased the finds unearthed at ancient Eleftherna, which he dubbed the ‘heart’ of Crete and described as the second major pillar of ancient Cretan civilisation after Knossos and Faistos. Mr Stampolidis said that Eleftherna is the story of the dawn of Greek civilisation in the post-Minoan era and the counterweight of Knossos.

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Mr Stampolidis’ discovery of two Christian basilicas at the site also adds new information concerning the area’s cultural profile, which had previously been identified with the heroes of Homeric times. Mr Stampolidis said that archaeologists are currently examining whether these two churches were built by Christians by destroying pagan monuments or whether they used abandoned monuments of the ancient world .

“Did the Christians act as jihadists or simply peacefully write their own story?” Mr Stampolidis asked.

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The museum of Eleftherna welcomes over 600 visitors a day. The innovative feature of the museum lies in that all the exhibits will be periodically renewed with new and older finds from the excavations. In this way, the public’s interest will be constantly kept alive and linked with the revelations from the ongoing work at the archaeological site.