Arhanes is a picturesque small town, built at an altitude of 380 meters [1280 ft] in the middle of a basin. It is run through by Kaeratos stream, dividing into two parts. Arhanes is 14 kilometers away from the city of Heraklion and only 7 kilometers from the Palace of Knossos. The greater area of Arhanes is most significant for its numerous archaeological sites.
In 1912, Xanthoudides noted the importance of Archanes, but Sir Arthur Evans was the first to characterize the site as palatial, declaring that Archanes was likely a Summer Palace for the Knossos kings. Spyridon Marinatosand N. Platon excavated minor areas in the region, but nothing supported Evans’ theory. In 1964, Yannis Sakellarakis dug trial trenches at the Tourkoyeitonia site and uncovered the first evidence of a palace site. Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeological Society under the supervision of John Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.
In the Minoan era, aqueducts delivered water to Kephala Hill from spring water sources at Archanes, which are also the source of the Kairatos River.
Troullos is the easternmost site of the Archanes settlement. Tourkoyeitonia, in central Archanes, is the site of its palace, likely built in the Middle Minoan period. Excavations began here in 1964 by J. Sakellarakis. It contains features such as ashlar blocks, poros-stone plaques and blocks, plaster, wood, stucco floor tiles, gypsum, kouskoura slabs, mud bricks, ironstone blocks, schist plaques, blue marble flooring, incurved concave altars, wooden columns and pillars, frescoes and Polytheron doorways.
A variety of Porphyrite stone lamps, vases, amphorae, cooking pots, cups, lamps, tools and every-day domestic items such as tweezers have been unearthed at the site. Southwest of Tourkoyeitonia, more of the palace is found. While little remains of the architecture, the walls that are preserved are Middle Minoan III–Late Minoan IA. Linear A tablets and the model of a house were excavated at The Archive along with MMIII-LMIA pottery and several unworked pieces of rock crystal, obsidian and steatite.
The man-made enclosure of a spring, partially excavated in 1921 by Sir Arthur Evans, was completed by J. Sakellarakis in 1964. The floor is laid with pebbles, and the walls are poros-stone. Evidence indicates that it was built between Middle Minoan IB and Middle Minoan IIIA, destroyed during Late Minoan IA, and then restored and in various use afterward. The reservoir is within the palace grounds.
A large paved area, dissected by walkways that form a triangle, is found in Theatre Area” or “Aghios Nikolaos” (Saint Nicholas). Two stepped altars are found here, one on a walkway and one on the pavement. There is a painting of a reconstruction of this area in Sakellarakis’ Crete Archanes guidebook on page 49, which does this area more justice than a written description.
The colorful village has been prized by the European Union as model for residential development. You could visit the museums of the town and discover the region's history through the findings of the Minoan and Byzantine Era and the folk art exhibits. Also many wonderful architectural buildings and Byzantine churches affirm the designation of Arhanes as an ideal traditional settlement.
Fourni is a large lush hill next to the picturesque Arhanes village. It takes its name after the local homonym preminoan cemetery, next to Knossiano Gorge. Fourni can be accessed through Kato Arhanes, where you’ll meet signs leading there.
On the hill of Fourni there is a small pine grove. Fourni is really beautiful and is worth visiting. There are plenty of pine and cypress trees that stand next large rocks. As expected, spring is the best time to visit the place. The woods in Fourni is ideal for hiking and its numerous paths have made that popular for mountain biking. Moreover, there is a beautiful stone theater, where the views to Archanes and to Dia Island are amazing. A little further from the theater, you’ll find the archaeological site of the pre-Minoan cemetery (2400AD-2200AD), which is the largest prehistoric cemetery in the Aegean Sea. Fourni is still under excavations, which have revealed several important objects, mainly from graves. The objects found, indicate clearly that Archanes had close relations with the Aegean, Egypt and the Middle East. The most important finding was the unlooted sarcophagus of the "Queen", where jewelry (over 140 pieces) and other items were found, but also remnants of sacrificing an ox and a horse. Many of the findings are exhibited in the archaeological museums of Archanes and Heraklion.