Festos was the second most important city after Knosos during the ancient years. The ancient city was built on a hillock and supervised the whole Mesara plain.

The archaeological site is near the Timpaki settlement, in the south-west side of the Heraclion prefecture.

The residence of Festos began during the Neolithic Era and continued till the foundation and the establishment of the Minoan palaces. The first palace was built in 1900 B.C. but the earthquake of 1700 B.C. destroyed it completely. A new palace was built on its place the ruins of which have been preserved till today.

Festos had two powerful ports, Matala and Kommos.

The city did not lose its power and was destroyed in 160 B.C. when the neighboring Gortyna enslaved it.

The first written references of Festos were made by Homer in Iliad and Odyssey where the catalogue of the cities that joined the Trojan War was stated. Homer described Festos as well-inhabited. The ancient historian, Didoros Sikeliotis, claimed that the founder of Festos and Knosos and Kidonia was Minoas.

According to the mythology, the king of Festos was Radamanthis, the son of Zeus and Europe and the brother of Minoas. He was famous for his wisdom and his fair judgment. He was also said to have written the Cretan Code.

Spratt was the first person who recognized and showed the area of the ancient Festos city and the excavations began in 1884 A.C. by F. Halbherr and continued by the Italian Archaeological School.

The name of Festos means brilliant, glorious.