The Minoan palace is the main site to visit in Knossos, an important city during antiquity, with continuous life from the Neolithic years to the 5th century. A.D. It is built on the hill of Kefala, with easy access to the sea but also to the interior of Crete. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. Fascinating myths of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur and Daedalus with Icarus are associated with the palace of Knossos.
If you plan to visit Crete, one of the must-see attractions is the ancient palace of Knossos. This archaeological site offers a unique glimpse into the Minoan civilization that flourished on the island more than 4000 years ago.
1. Introduction to Knossos
Knossos is an archaeological site located south of the modern city of Heraklion on the island of Crete. It was the center of the Minoan civilization, which dominated the Aegean from 2600 to 1100 BC. Knossos is believed to have been the largest and most important city on the island during this period.
2. History of Knossos
The Minoan civilization takes its name from the legendary king Minos, who is said to have ruled Knossos from his palace. The palace was built around 1900 BC. and was continuously inhabited until about 1380 BC. when it was destroyed, possibly by an earthquake or invasion.
3. The Palace of Knossos
The palace of Knossos was a complex of buildings covering an area of over 22,000 square meters. It was built around a central courtyard and was decorated with frescoes, vases, and other works of art. The palace was also the center of political, economic, and religious life in Minoan Crete.
4. Visiting Knossos
If you are planning to visit Knossos, there are a few things you should know before you go.
4.1 Hours of Operation
Knossos is open to visitors every day except for major holidays. The venue is open from 8am to 8pm during the summer months and from 8am to 7pm during the winter months.
4.2 Entry Fees
Entrance to Knossos is €15 for adults and €8 for students.
Guided tours are available and can be booked in advance or on the day of your visit. Guided tours are conducted by experienced guides who will provide you with detailed information on the history and architecture of the site.
There are many facilities available in Knossos such as the museum, a cafe, and a gift shop. The museum contains many of the artifacts discovered during the excavation of the site.
5. Explore the site
Knossos is a huge archaeological site and there are many areas to explore. Here are some of the most interesting places to see:
5.1 The Central Court
The Central Court is the heart of the palace and is surrounded by the Throne Room, the Queen’s Palace and the Royal Apartments. This area was used for public ceremonies and was the center of political life in Minoan Crete.
5.2 The throne room
The throne room is one of the most impressive rooms in the palace. It is decorated with colorful frescoes and was probably used for important ceremonies and meetings.
5.3 The Queen’s Palace
The Queen’s Chamber was a private chamber probably used by the queen and her attendants. It is decorated with murals depicting dolphins and other sea creatures.
5.4 The Royal Apartments
The Royal Apartments were the residences of the royal family. They are decorated with frescoes depicting daily life in Minoan Crete.
5.5 The Sanctuaries
At Knossos, there were also several sanctuaries, including the Sanctuary of the Double Axes, which was dedicated to the god of fertility, and the Sanctuary of the Horns, which was dedicated to the goddess of nature.
5.6 The Labyrinth
One of the most fascinating aspects of Knossos is the legend of the Labyrinth. According to Greek mythology, the palace housed an intricate labyrinth built by the architect Daedalus to house the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.
6. Tips for visiting Knossos
To get the most out of your visit to Knossos, here are some tips to keep in mind:
6.1 Wear comfortable shoes
The site is quite large and there is a lot of walking, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
6.2 Bring sunscreen and water
The temperature in Crete can get very hot in the summer months, so be sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water.
6.3 Respect the archaeological site
Knossos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an important cultural site. Please respect the space, and do not touch the ruins or destroy any artwork.
6.4 Take your time
There is a lot to see in Knossos, so take your time and explore the site at your own pace.
6.5 Consider renting a car
While there are buses that run from nearby Heraklion to Knossos, renting a car can give you more flexibility in when you visit and how long you stay. Additionally, having a car can make it easier to explore other nearby attractions, such as the ancient city of Gortyna or the charming seaside town of Agios Nikolaos.