Archanes is a large agricultural town (right), noted for its traditional architecture and its wine ('Arhanes' and 'Armanti' by name) as well as table grapes called 'rosaki'. A major wine-producing area in Crete, the vineyards here are the oldest ongoing vineyards in Europe, and possibly in the entire world. The Minoan aqueduct to Knossos began here, and later the Venetian as well, terminating in the Morosini fountain in Heraklion. In the town center, the Panayia church has a fine collection of icons, and there are frescoes in the church of the Asomatos.
Archanes is located just a few km south of Knossos, at the foot of Mt. Iouktas. If coming from Iraklio, take the right fork instead of the one that goes to Myrtia. From Knossos, back-track to that fork and turn left. The road will pass through Patsidhes and Kato Archanes to the main part of Archanes, reachable also by hourly buses from Iraklio. None of the three sites here are open to the public, though the Palace (within the town) can be looked at only through a chain-link fence.
Archanes was a significant and densely populated center of Minoan civilization. Sir Arthur Evans (who excavated and reconstructed Knossos), was the first to explore Archanes, and after him Spyridon Marinatos (excavator of Akrotiri in Santorini) excavated the villa at Vathypetro (see below), but a full excavation of the site didn't occur until 1966, by Yannis and Effie Sakellarakis.
The sites near it have only been excavated during the past three and a half decades and contained some important finds. The Palace is found in the town itself, not far from the main road, and resembles a large villa. There is an archaeological museum close to the main square (8:30-3 p.m except Tues.; free). The supposed dagger used for the supposed human sacrifice at Anemospilia (see below) is on display here along with finds from excavation in the Archanes area. There are remains of a Minoan peak sanctuary on the summit of Mt. Iouktas (Psili Korfi) which can be driven to from a road just before Vathypetro, or walked to in about two hours, and from which there are panoramic views. A Christian church has been built on top of the remains of the old Minoan sanctuary. Finds from the latter include votive gifts and bronze double axes. Poseidon was among the gods worshipped here.
Vathypetro (which means 'deep rock') is 2km south of Archanes; south of Mt. Yiouhtas. Minoan villa and vineyard (Mon-Sat 8:30 a.m.-2 pm; free), once in control of farmland south of Archanes. Farming implements and wine press exhibited-the oldest in Greece (3500years). On 6 August every year the first grapes are offered to the deity on Mt. Yiouhtas, as in ancient times. Beautiful setting facing the mountain. Like a miniature Knossos in layout. Built 1580 BC, destroyed thirty years later by an earthquake, seemingly rebuilt as a center for crafts. Potters' wheels; loom weights.