Knossos, Prefecture of Heraklion
Knossos Palace is the legendary site of Theseus fighting the Minotaur, Ariadne and her ball of string, Daedalus the architect and doomed Icarus of the wax wings: how many of us dream Minoan dreams and never realize it?
How to Get There: Drive about two miles south from the centre of Heraklion (Iraklio), on the road to Archanes. Knossos is on the east side of the road; watch for signs and, more reliably, increased congestion and tour buses. Many cruise ships also offer day trips to Knossos when they are in port; try to combine your visit with a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion, which is second only to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and well worth seeing. The Number 2 bus from the main station at the port also goes to Knossos; if time permits, this may be a much cheaper option than taking the tour from the ship, though you may risk ending up on your own without a guide.
Knossos is the most important archaeological site in Crete. It was the centre of the very well-developed Minoan civilization and was one of the oldest cities in Europe. From Knossos King Minos ruled his empire. Knossos is the origin of a large part of Greek mythology like the myth of the labyrinth with the Minotaur and the story of Daidalos and Icarus.
The place where Knossos has been built was inhabited from the beginning of the Neolithic period (5700-2800 to the beginning of our era). At that time it was mainly engaged in farming. Pottery was being produced and Men mainly used tools made from stone and bones. During the Bronze Age (2800-1100 to the beginning of our era) Metal started to be used for the first time and it was during this period that the Minoan culture developed.
At the beginning of the Minoan civilization, the ancient settlements on the site of Knossos were demolished. On top of them the palace was built. The palace was of great importance. It was the centre of all activities in the state and Knossos became the big capital of Crete. Around 1700bc however, the palace was destroyed (probably by an earthquake) and a new palace was built with a surface area of some 22 hectares.
It is this new palace that you see the remains of today. The palace was decorated according to the criteria of the modern society of that time. There were special rooms for the king, homes for citizens, cemeteries, sacrificial altars and storage. During the height of the Minoan civilization a large number of people lived in the city close to the palace. According to the most realistic estimates about 20,000 people lived in the town which was built on a area of about 750 hectares. The nation was led by King Minos. Whether this is indeed the name of a king or only the name of a position, is unknown.
The palace was again destroyed by a major volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini 1628 years before the beginning of our era. The 100-meter-high tsunami waves, which were caused by the earthquake, destroyed the city. It was the beginning of the end to the Minoan civilization.
The Minoans lived in a nation with a very high civilization. Very beautiful frescoes were made and the many tools they made were very nicely decorated. Moreover, it were very peaceful people. Weapons and protection against enemies were not created. Today, things from the Minoan civilization can still be found, for example, our justice find it's origins in Minoan civilization.
In 1878 the first archaeological research was done at the place where the palace stood. This study was carried out in amateurish way by Minos Kalokairinos, a merchant from Heraklion. Until the remnants of the palace were found people thought it would only exist is myths. Kalokairinos took a number of important properties which he donated to various museums in Europe. A number of other cases he took back home. During the revolution in 1898, these things were destroyed.
Several archaeologists tried to buy the land from the Turkish owners. They also wanted to do important excavations at the site. The Englishman Sir Arthur John Evans eventually succeeded to buy the site after Crete became an independent state in the year 1900. In record pace he groove out the largest part of the palace of Knossos at his own expense. He hired about 100 people to do this. When in 1902 the largest portion of the palace was above the ground he did additional research until 1931 (with a break from 1912 to 1922). Evans also restored a part of the palace. He did that at his discretion. There was not much scientific substantiation for his imaginative constructions. After Evans, a number of other reputable archaeologists made excavations and additional research into the palace of Knossos.
For many people a visit to Knossos does not meet the expectations. It is therefore advisable to you to read about what you are about to see in advance. When you have a little knowledge of what Knossos really is or was then you will find that a visit to Knossos certainly is interesting. It is often complained about how the palace has been restored. Sure, excavations will be carried out otherwise nowadays. In the days of Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeology was still in its infancy. It was in that period simply not known how to tackle archaeological. The way Knossos has been restored, however, has contributed to the many millions of people who visit to the palace yearly.
€6 entry for Adults
Knossos, archeology side is a great place to visit. We decided to hire the services of one of the guides at the gate and boy was that a good decision. He was obviosly not in it just for the money, he got so involved and his stories were incredible. The place came all to life and you could see the Minoeans all over the place.