Ancient Eleftherna is the most important archaeological site in the Rethymno prefecture. Since 1985 The University of Crete makes systematic excavations each summer and the discoveries up to now are very many and very impressive.
It was inhabited uninterruptedly from the second millennium B.C. up to the later Roman, the first Byzantine and Byzantine years (13th century A.D.). Advantages of the place were the fortified location, the good climate and generally the existence of all conditions for habitation (sources of water, cultivatable lands, lands for pasturage and logging, limestone for building).
The city prospered especially during the Archaic, Hellenistic, the Roman and the first Byzantine period. It was destroyed many times by conquerors and terrible earthquakes and was rebuilt again and again from the ruins. During its prosperity, it was one of the most powerful cities of Crete. It dominated two harbours (current Stavromeno and Panormo) and had commercial and other relations with central Greece, the Cyclades, Asia Minor and Egypt. It was abandoned after the 7th A.D. century because of the raids and the Arabic conquest and was inhabited again after the expulsion of Arabs by Nikiforos Fokas. It was again abandoned in the 14th century A.D., when the Venetians conquerors prohibited (on pain of death) the habitation, and even passing through the region, because they had faced insuperable resistance from the local rebels in this inaccessible place.
Unfortunately, up till now, the many and impressive discoveries have not been gathered in a museum (there was an impressive exhibition in 2005 in the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens which received international acclaim). It is very useful and instructive map with the paths and notes, archaeological spaces etc points of interest of region, that made the Cultural Association with the municipality.