Archaeological site of Knossos - Archaeological museum of Heraklion

Stops: Archaeological site of Knossos (1 hour)

Archaeological museum of Heraklion (1 hour)

Estimated time: 3 (three) hours.

Archaeological site of Knossos

The archaeological site of Knossos (Knosós GR: Κνωσός) is sited 5 km southeast of the city of Iraklion. There is evidence that this location was inhabited during the neolithic times (6000 B.C.) . On the ruins of the neolithic settlement was built the first Minoan palace (1900 B.C.) where the dynasty of Minos ruled. This was destroyed in 1700 B.C and a new palace built in its place.

The palace covered an area of 22,000sq.m, it was multi- storeyed and had an intricate plan. Due to this fact the Palace is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur.

Between 1.700-1.450 BC, the Minoan civilisation was at its peak and Knossos was the most important city-state. During these years the city was destroyed twice by earthquakes (1.600 BC, 1.450 BC) and rebuilted.

The city of Knossos had 100.000 citizens and it continued to be an important city-state until the early Byzantine period.

The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos (GR: Μίνως Καλοκαιρινός). The excavations in Knossos began in 1.900 A.D. by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851- 1941) and his team, and they continued for 35 years. Knossos gave birth to famous men like Hersifron and his son Metagenis, whose creation was the temple of Artemis in Efesos, the Artemisio, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The most important monuments of the site are: The Great Palace It is the largest of the preserved Minoan palatial centres. Four wings are arranged around a central courtyard, containing the royal quarters, workshops, shrines, storerooms, repositories, the throne room and banquet halls. Dated to 2000-1350 B.C.

Archaeological museum of Heraklion

The most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, unique in beauty and completeness is housed in the Museum of Herakleion; One of the largest, most important and most visited museums in Greece, and among the most important in Europe.

The museum's exhibition contains more than 15,000 artefacts, covering a period of 5,000 years, from neolithic era to Graeco Roman period. The exhibits, collected from excavations carried out in all parts of Crete, come mainly from the prehistoric era (which takes its name from the legendary Cretan king, Minos) and form a valuable record of the artistic, social and economic life of the island during the ancient period.

They include examples of pottery in a variety of practical yet imaginative shapes ; stone carving of exceptional artistry ; seal engraving - one of the miniature arts at Minoan excelled; miniature sculpture of great sensitivity; gold work remarkable for the excellence of its technique and the variety of its subjects ; metalwork - household utensils, tools, weapons and sacred axes, carefully and ingeniously made ; and, finally, frescoes, which, with their harmoniously drawn figures and colorful compositions, give us an insight into a world characterized by tenderness, vitality, sensitivity and charm, a world which took a simple yet intense joy in life and nature.