The ancient city-state of Aptera is located southeast of Souda and was founded in the 8th century BC. Aptera played an important role in the history of Crete, in domestic and foreign policy. Her life continued unceasingly until the times of the Arab conquest where she was destroyed by a great earthquake and raids by the Saracens pirates and abandoned.
According to the legend her name, she took by a musical contest between the Sirens and the Muses. The Sirens lost the contest and lost their wings. In reality, however, the city must have taken its name from the goddess Artemis, which was worshiped in this place and depicted in the coins of the city.
It was one of the most important city-states in Crete. The city wall is preserved for about four kilometers. It was built in the 3rd century. B.C. and its strong masonry reveal the great prosperity of the city during Hellenistic times. Passing through the walls, in the middle of the area, there is a fenced section, where one can see the ruins of a small temple of classical times (late 5th-4th centuries BC).
In the archaeological place, there are still the ruins of a small temple of classical times, vaulted basins of the Roman era and a small theater. East of the walls, it is a three-arched apse building of the Roman era associated with the Parliament. In addition, it is worthwhile to follow the path behind the monastery of St. John the Theologian, and so be found in front of two impressive, vaulted, Roman tanks. The monastery was opened until the mid-1960s.
Outside the walls, in the place of the current district of Plakalona, the ancient necropolis of which many graves have been excavated extends. Nearby there are two fortresses that were built during the Ottoman domination, the fortress “Palaikastro” built by the Turks on the occasion of the 1866 revolution and the fortress “Itzhedin” in the Kalami village, which was built in 1872 and had barracks, hospital and other facilities.
Finds from the ancient town of Aptera are preserved and exhibited at the Archaeological Museum in Chania.