The history of Ancient Aptera, meaning wingless, begins in the Minoan era (3500 -1070 BC) but ruins at the site reflect the city's habitation in the Geometrical era (1000-685 BC), Hellenistic era (23-67 BC) and the Roman era. Ancient Aptera is built on a plateau 200 meters above sea level overlooking the Bay of Souda.
Excavations have revealed that the city was vast and finds suggest it was a great shipping and commercial center of Crete. There was, at one time, a temple of Demeter, goddess of agriculture. Remains at the site include fortifications, aqueducts, public baths and burial grounds.