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Heraklion Area

Knossos Minoan Palace

Knossos, the most famous Palace of Minoan Civilization is located 5 kilometres southeast of Heraklion city-centre, along the road to Archanes village. Knossos is also known as Labyrinth.



The first Minoan Palace was built (1900 B.C.) where the dynasty of the legendery King Minos ruled and Knossos was the main centre of power in Crete. It was destroyed though in 1700 B.C and a new palace was built in its place. The impressive size of the palace covered an area of 22,000sq.m, and its construction - based on the use of luxury materials and advanced building techniques - was multi-storeyed and had an intricate architectural plan. Due to this fact the Palace is connected with Greek Mythology -The palace was designed by the famous architect Dedalos with such complexity that no one placed in it could ever find its exit and King Minos kept then the architect in prison to ensure that he would never reveal the palace's architectural plan to anyone.. . and moreover with the myth of Minotaur - a creature with the head and tail of a bull on the body of a man-, locked into a giant Labyrinth by King Minos and fed on by human sacrifiices, until Theseus with the help of the Thread of Godess Ariadne killed him.

Walking through its complex multi-storied buildings one can comprehend why the palace of Knossos was associated with the mythological labyrinth.


The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos and the excavations in Knossos began in 1.900 A.D. by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851- 1941).


The most important monuments of the site are:

The Palace of Knossos, the largest of the preserved Minoan palatial centres. Four wings are arranged around a central courtyard, bearing the royal quarters, workshops, shrines, storerooms, repositories, the throne room and banquet halls.

The Little Palace, which lies to the west of the main palace and has all the characteristics of palatial architecture: scraped wall masonry, reception rooms, a pristyle hall, a double megaron with polythyra and a lustral basin-shrine.

The Royal Villa, which lies to the NE of the palace and its architectural form is determinated by the polythyra, the pillar crypt and the double staircase, with two flights of stairs. In character it is strongly religious and might have been the residence of an aristocrat or a high priest.

House of the Frescoes, located to the NW of the palace and is a small urban mansion with rich decoration e.g. Blue Birds Frescoe on the walls.

Caravan Serai, which lies to the south of the palace and was defined as a reception hall and hospice. Baths and wall paintings equip and decorate some of the rooms accordingly.

The "Unexplored Mansion". Private building located to the NW of the palace. It is rectangular, with a central, four-pillared hall, corridors, storerooms and remains of a staircase.

Temple Tomb, located almost 600 m. to the south of the palace and was connected with the "House of the High Priest" by means of a paved street. It seems that one of the last kings of Knossos (17th-14th centuries B.C.) was buried here. Prevalentl features of its architecture are the hypostyle, two-pillar crypt, the entrance with the courtyard, the portico and a small anteroom.

House of the High Priest. It lies 300 m. to the south of Caravan Serai and encloses a stone altar with two columns, framed by the bases of double axes.

The South Mansion. Private civic house, located to the south of the palace. A three-storeyed building with a lustral basin and a hypostyle crypt.

Villa of Dionysos. Private, peristyle house of the Roman period. Decorated with splendid mosaics by Apollinarius, depicting Dionysos. The house embodies special rooms engaged to the Dionysiac cult.


It is advisable that your visit to Knossos must be combined & completed with a visit to Heraklion Archaeological Museum where all the original items found on the site are on display and will bring the majesty of Minoan life at the palace a little closer.


Published in Heraklion Area
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