Knossos

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Knossos Minoan Palace

KnossosKnossos, the famous Minoan Palace lies 5 kilometres southeast of Heraklion, in the valley of the river Kairatos. The river rises in Archanes, runs through Knossos and reaches the sea at Katsabas, the Minoan harbour of Knossos.

In Minoan times the river flowed all year round and the surrounding hills were covered in oak and cypress trees, where today we see vines and olives. The pine trees inside the archaeological site were planted by Evans.

Constant habitation for 9,000 years has brought about great changes to the natural environment, so it is hard to imagine what the Minoan landscape was like.

Knossos, the 1st and 2nd Palace

Knossos pictureThe first settlement in the Knossos area was established circa 7000 BC, during the Neolithic Period. The economic, social and political development of the settlement led to the construction of the majestic Palace of Knossos towards the end of the second millennium BC.

Knossos was the seat of the legendary King Minos and the main centre of power in Crete.

This first Palace was destroyed circa 1700 BC. It was rebuilt and destroyed again by fire, this time definitively, in 1350 BC. The environs of the Palace were transformed into a sacred grove of the goddess Rhea, but never inhabited again.

The Palace of Knossos is the monumental symbol of Minoan civilisation, due to its construction, use of luxury materials, architectural plan, advanced building techniques and impressive size.

Knossos, the first excavation by Minos Kalokairinos

The first large-scale excavation was undertaken in 1878 by the wealthy art-lover Minos Kalokairinos, while Crete was still under Turkish occupation. Kalokairinos excavated part of the West Magazines and brought many large pithoi (storage pots) to light.

 

Knossos Sir Arthur Evans

Knossos, the excavations by Sir Arthur Evans

 

In March 1900 to 1931, Sir Arthur Evans excavated not only the Palace but the whole surrounding area of Knossos. The Palace complex was excavated in only five years, an extremely short time by today’s standards.

Evans restored the Palace with concrete, a technique condemned by modern archaeologists as arbitrary and damaging to the Minoan structure. Excavations continue and a conservation programme is underway to halt the deterioration of the Palace.

 

 

Knossos, a detailed tour

The tour of Knossos starts at the West Entrance to the Palace and circles back to the starting-point.

map of Knossos Palace

How to get to Knossos Palace

By Bus

You can get to Knossos Palace by the city bus. The route stars from the central bus station near the old port, as well as from the bus station in front of the Hotel Astoria in Eleftherias Square in the center of Heraklion, 50 meters from the Archaeological Museum. During the summer months there are buses every 30 minutes. The ticket costs 1.5 euro (in 2017).

If you want to go to Knossos from another town outside Heraklion, you can get a green bus (KTEL), go to Heraklion and take the city bus from there.

By Car

Follow the signs to Heraklion and Knossos Palace. Use your GPS (coordiinates 35.298452, 25.163064) or a good map and ask the locals for instructions. The main road to the site is Knossos Avenue and parking is free.

By Bus Tour

A shared bus tour is an excellent way to visit Knossos, because A) you don’t have to worry about transportation and B) there will be a tour guide, who will teach you a lot about Knossos and the Minoan Civilization.

The bus will pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the Knossos Palace. During the trip, the tour guide will talk about the history and the mythology of Crete, its traditions and interesting facts about the Minoan civilization. In the palace, the guide will walk you through the mystery of the Labyrinth and its history.

You can visit Knossos with one of the following bus tours:

 

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