The archaeological site of Palekastro is situated 2 km from the village of Palekastro, on the beach of Chiona. The systematic excavations in the area carried out at the beginning of the century by the English archaeologists Bosanquet and Dawkins, unearthed a significant Minoan settlement which seems to have reached a peak of power largely in the post Minoan period. Tombs containing large numbers of well preserved bones from the pre-Minoan and mid-Minoan periods were also discovered.
A central road divides the settlement into nine districts. The houses facing the road have imposing frontages and there was an excellent sewage system.
Another important discovery was a large temple of the Priesthood of Dictaean Zeus which was one of the most well-known priesthoods in Eastern Crete. An inscription on grey limestone found in the ruins of the temple had a hymn to Zeus. The hymn was sung by naked young shieldbearers representing the “Kourites” who according to legend were present at the birth of Zeus at Dictaean Cave. The hymn is an invocation to Zeus, extols the virtues and omnipotence of Zeus and entreats him to send happiness and fertility to people.
Temple worship was probably shrouded in mystery and continued from the Geometric Period up until the Roman occupation.
Life here probably came to an end with the eruption of the volcano of Santorini in the 15th century BC.