Thelargestcentreof the Minoancivilization, homeofthe legendary kingMinosandthe capital city ofhisreign, is located 5 kilometerssoutheastofHeraklion, on a low hill known asKefalas hill and next to the river Kairatos. The city of Knossos was continually inhabitedfromthe lateseventhmillennium untilroman times and it is famed for the fascinating legendsofthefabled Labyrinth, theMinotaur, DaedalusandIcarus. During the Minoan era, the city experiencedits prime, leading to theconstruction of the monumental Knossos palace, which was brought to light by the BritisharchaeologistArthurEvansin the early20th century. While excavations were underway, Evansalsoconductedextensiveworktoreconstruct and renovate the palace, resultingin the unique archaeological site we know today, which is progressively undergoing adjustments to its premises.
Places to visit
The Knossospalacewasconsideredto bethereligious, administrativeandfinancialcentre of the area and the city of Knossos would spread around it. According to Evans, the population reached 80,000 residents. Thepalacecomplex had multiple floors andstretched outover a distanceof around 20,000 square meters. It was built using various different materials and was decoratedwith captivatingfrescoes. For the construction of the palace,original techniques were employed, which surpassed architecturaland structural conventions of the time, such as the «lightwells» and the «polythyra» (halls with pier-and-door partitions), allowing fora better air-flow and more light coming in the rooms of the vast compound.
Evidence of an advanced civilisation in the city of Knossos is corroborated bytheextendedsewerage andwatersystems which can be seenin many parts of the palace complex. The edificewasorganisedinwingsaroundalarge «centralcourtyard». On the west side, a second courtyard functionedas theofficialentrance to the building, through amonumentalpropylon (gateway)and alargecorridor with a procession fresco. On the westwing were the storage rooms, a rowofrectangularroomsthatcontainedbig«pithoi» (large storage containers)andchests. On site, there were also discoveries ofLinearBsigns with recordsreferring toproductsthatwere being stored. Next to the storage rooms, the «CentralSanctuary» andthe «SacredTreasuries» were situated, areas whereexquisiteMinoanart pieces were unearthed, whereason the northern part was thelegendary «Throneroom», known for its stonethronethat is surroundedbyfrescoes.
On thenorth side of thecourtyard, there was another entrance that connected the palace to the harbour and it was decorated witha bull-leapingfresco. On both sides, there were storage rooms andarchive rooms, whereason the north side,the «Custom’s House» was located, a largehypostylehall which was hypothesised to be the place where trading goods would be checked when coming from the harbour to the palace.
On the east wing, the «GrandStaircase» led to floorsbellowthelevel of thecourtyard, where the «royalquarters» would be located. On oneof thefloors, which is known asthe «Queen’sMegaron», a paintedclaywash-basin, a washroom andsanitaryfacilities were discovered. Next to it was the so-called «King’sMegaron», also known as the «Hall of theDouble axes»,due tothe sacred symbol of the double axes that was engraved on the walls. On thenorth side of the wing, stone carving and pottery workshops were found, whereason thesouthwingwas theSouthPropylonandtheSouth Entrance,decoratedwithfrescoesthat depicted the Prince of the Lilies.
Not to be missed
Visitors are given the chance to wander the ceremonialrooms, the storagerooms, theroyalquarters, the workshops andof course, theimposing «Throneroom». The frescoes, as well as objects that adorn the premises, areexactcopiesof theoriginal artefactswhich are displayed in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. After touring ancient Knossos, the museum is definitely worth visiting in order to gain a full perspective of the grandeur of the Minoan civilisation and of the archaeological site itself.
- Accessible for people with special needs: NO
- Location: Knossos
- Fax: +30 2810 241515
- Email: email@example.com
- Operation Hours: 08:00-19:00
- Ticket Price (€): 6
- Reduced Ticket Price (€): 3