Knossos Heraklion, a place of history, legends and Crete’s most important archaeological site. Discover the depths of Greek mythology and European history by visiting one of the most fascinating attractions of Crete. When visiting the island, Knossos Palace should be at the top of your excursions. Undoubtably, the palace will leave you speechless with its character, legends and history. So, let’s find out more information about this significant palace!
To begin with, the palace of Knossos is located few miles away from the capital of Crete, Heraklion. The palace was the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan Civilization during the Bronze Age. Moreover, according to Greek mythology, it was the home of the legendary King Minos who built a labyrinth in order to keep the deadly Minotaur inside. In addition, the whole area was once the city state of the island and it was considered as Europe’s oldest city. Knossos is over 20.000 square meters and the largest palace in Greece. Its construction was from ashlar blocks with many floors and fantastic frescoes that still exist.
Discover the significant history of Knossos Heraklion
According to the excavations of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans the old palace was built around 2.000 BC but a massive earthquake destroyed it in 1700 BC. So, the palace you visit now is basically the second Minoan Palace on the site. More specific, the palace was inhabited for several thousand years, starting around 7000 BC during Neolithic Period. The surrounding city had approximately a population of 100.000 inhabitants. The new palace replaced immediately the first one. However, the people abandoned it around 1380 to 1100 BC and henceforth the Minoan Civilization came to its end.
The Minotaur legend in Greek Mythology
Greek mythology says that King Minos built the famous labyrinth to keep away the mythical deadly creature, Minotaur. The famous architect Daedalus designed the palace in a way that no one of those who entered could find the way out. So, King Minos made this labyrinth in order to keep Minotaur away from the king’s wife, Pasiphae. With the body of a human and the head of a bull, Minotaur was kept after Mino’s consultation with the Oracle of Delphi. However, the hero Theseus was the one who killed the Minotaur and successfully retraced his steps to the entrance. King’s daughter, Ariadni, who was in love with him, helped him as she gave the famous ball of thread to mark his route within the maze.
The throne room and the frescoes of Knossos Palace
It is really important to know that the excavations during all these years helps us to understand the living and the culture of the Minoan Civilization. The Minoan Palace is not as it looked in its original time, due to all these changes. On the other hand, archaeologists discovered many findings and now we can see them either at the palace or t the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Firstly, there are about 1300 rooms with corridors that connected each other inside. They were four wings, each of them had different types of rooms. The rooms consist of the residential quarters, the workshops, the shrines and the repositories as well as important buildings like the South Propylon which was the most imposing one. Furthermore, the rooms were around the courtyards with many windows in order to receive the maximum advantage of natural lighting.
One of the most beautiful and significant elements inside the palace are the frescoes. Visiting it, you will be speechless by the art inside and the ornate artifacts. The walls are full of beautiful frescoes that each of them has a story. However, most of them need reconstruction. Another significant element of the palace is the throne room which contained an alabaster seat as a throne. At this room there were also gypsum benches with a tub area with the purpose of ceremonial purification.
Tips and helpful information for visitors of Knossos at Heraklion
- Make sure you hydrate yourself! Take plenty of water with you, especially when you visit Knossos Palace during the hot days of summer. The heat is usually unbearable.
- Take a sunscreen and a hat. The archaeological site has many uncovered spots and not much shade. So, these are essentials for a pleasant visit.
- Visit it early in the morning. Knossos Palace is probably one of the most overcrowded places in Crete. It’s better to avoid the rush hours and of course the infinite queue and heat. Choose the early hours or late in the afternoon.
- Easy access for people with disabilities. It is very important to know that the site has many spots that are easily accessible to all people.
- Comfortable shoes! There is a lot of dust and stones into the site, so it would a good choice to wear convenient shoes and not sandals.
A visit at the Archaeological Museum will complete the tour!
By the time you finish your tour at Knossos Heraklion, the best thing that you can do is a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. As one of the most important museums of Europe, it contains 13 rooms open t public while on upper floor there are pieces from the original murals of the palace. During the Venetian occupation it was a rich catholic monastery with Byzantine frescoes. The monastery was destroyed during 19th century and the construction of the museum began in the early 20s.
More specific, all the exhibits come exclusively from the archaeological sites of Crete and especially Knossos. You will also see the famous Disk of Phaistos with the hieroglyphic writing and ideograms. What’s for sure it that you will be speechless by the exceptional gold jewelry from Minoan necropolises, as well as with the swords with golden handles.
In conclusion, Knossos Heraklion is definitely an excursion that will stay inedible in your memories. An imposing palace with such significant history and mythology, ideal for all ages. In fact, its influence is so big that some of the iconic Minoan artwork still inspire many artists. After reading this article, all you need to do is upgrade your holiday experience. Contact us and book now a private transfer to the magnificent Knossos Palace. It’s about time to appreciate the ancient majesty and glory of this island!