I’m sure you’re all familiar with the word labyrinth, aren’t you? You might as well have heard about the myth of Minotaur, the half bull half human creature which was killed by Theseus with the help of Ariadne. Yes I know, lots of characters in just one sentence, but you can read the (quick) story over at Wikipedia. Well, today I’m taking you to the actual place where this myth takes place: the city and palace of Knossos.
The archaeological site
The city and palace of Knossos date from 1700BC. The site was discovered in late 19th century by Minos Kalokairinos and excavations started in 1900 by British archaeologist Arthur Evans. The excavations uncovered the palace, warehouses, private houses and a very sophisticated sewage system. Many of the buildings featured elaborate murals, which are now housed in the archaeological museum of Heraklion. One thing you should keep in mind is that a large part of the palace is re-constructed according to Evans perception based on writings and descriptions of the palace.
Notable decorative details found throughout the palace, are the double axe (labrys), bull horns, people, mythological creatures, real animals, vegetation, and marine life. At this point it should be noted that the word labyrinth originates from the word labrys and it’s no wonder that it ended up meaning a maze, because this palace is a maze indeed!
A few places to check out in the palace are the Throne room (pictured above) and the Queen’s quarters. The former is a room with painted walls in beige and red colors and features mythical creatures called griffins as well as an alabaster throne. The Queen’s quarters have dolphins painted on the walls and had a bathtub, which was unique for the time.
Practical tips and information
The archaeological site of Knossos is open year round, apart from certain holidays. It gets the most visitors during summertime, as people combine their vacations with sightseeing (I can’t blame them, this place is unique). During summertime the site is open from 8am until 7pm. The entrance fee is 6€ (reduced 3€) and there is a combined ticket of 10€ (reduced 5€) for visiting both the archaeological site of Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Upon entering the site you will find a kiosk with guides (for free), which tour the site and explain the history of the place. There is a tour in English for sure, but I’m sure there are other languages available as well. I didn’t join a tour during my visit but it comes very handy because as I told you, this place is a maze and you will learn more about Knossos from the guide than the information signs which can be found throughout the site.
Based on my personal experience I strongly advise you to visit either early in the morning or after 5pm, as it is very hot during summertime and the site has a few areas of shade. I’ve written a couple of tips on what to wear when visiting Knossos as well! As for the ticket options I recommend the combined one because all the frescoes found in Knossos are located in the museum and the ones you see in Knossos are reconstructions.
Have you visited Knossos?
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