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You are in:  Top  →  Europe  →  GREECE  →  Crete  →  HERAKLION  →  Knossos

Knossos

The Minoan Palace of Knossos at 5km from the centre of Iraklion (Heraklion) in Crete is built on the hill of Kefala next to the river Kairatos, in a site which was admired for its natural advantages and easy access to the sea.
Knossos South Propylaea

View area map

The forest next to Knossos produced the "Cephalonian Pine" a tree that supplied the beams and the columns for the construction of the Palace.

This is the Palace of King Minos

The site itself includes the Palace of Knossos, The Minoan Houses, the Little Palace, the Royal Villa, the villa "Dionysos" with famous Roman mosaics, the south Royal Temple - Tomb and the Caravanserai.

The Palace and the Minoan houses are open for visits to the public. It is well known that the area lies on a great seismic site. The Palace had been destroyed time after time and always emerged from its ruins more magnificent than before until the last time that there was no recovery.

View pictures from the Palace of Knossos.

Excavations showed that the area was inhabited since the Neolithic times (6000 BC and perhaps even earlier) and verified that the Neolithic levels of Knossos are amongst the deepest in Europe.

An important Pre Palace already existed on this Neolithic site as far as 3000 BC. while the first Palace was built around 2000 BC and destroyed 300 years later.

On the same site a new Palace was built, more elaborate than the previous, only to be severely damaged from an earthquake one hundred years latter.

During this period we see the development of a series of satellite buildings like the "Little Palace", the "Royal Villa" and the "South House". Knossos has now developed into a large city whose population - judged by the adjacent cemeteries - must have not been less than 100 000 inhabitants.

The Palace now lives and prospers until the next disaster of around 1450 BC connected to the volcanic eruption of Santorini. Following this event, it is restored once more and used by the Achaean sovereign until at least 1380 BC although other city states in Crete had already been destroyed.

After its final destruction the palace was not used again except for the "temple of Rhea" in later historical times.

ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF THE PALACE OF KNOSSOS
Artist's impression on the Palace of Knossos
Full screen image | Knossos floor plan

Knossos survived through the historical times as a great city - state until the first Byzantine times. Its final decline came during the Middle Ages where it was diminished to an unimportant small village with the name "Makrys Toihos".

Its central court divides the Palace of Knossos into two wings, the West and the East. The West wing where the visitor enters today is where the religious and official staterooms are found while domestic rooms and workshops occupy the East wing.

To visit the palace today you can take a bus (KNOSSOS) from Iraklion main bus station by the port. This bus also stops at Lion's Square.

If you intend to use a tripod with your photographic camera you must obtain a license from the authority found at the building of the Iraklion Museum. It is valid for 14 days and for more than one archaeological sites.

A visit to Knossos must be completed with a visit to Heraklion Archaeological Museum where all the items found on the site are on display.



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