The Falasarna area has been occupied at least since the 6th century BC, but it reached the height of its power as a city-state in the 4th century BC. Although ancient Falasarna was built next to the sea, its ruins are about 400m inland because the coast has risen over the centuries.

Falasarna owed its wealth to agricultural produce from the fertile valley to the south. It was the west-coast harbour for Polyrrinia but later became Polyrrinia’s chief rival for dominance over western Crete. By the time of the Roman invasion of Crete in 67 BC, Falasarna had become a haven for pirates. Stone blocks excavated around the old harbour entrance may indicate that the Romans tried to keep the pirates out.