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Palace of Knossos - the ruins of the palace were discovered in 1878 by the Cretan Minos Kalokairinos who began excavations.
Beautiful frescoes were discovered on the site, showing us the nature of the society of the earliest Cretans.
Palace of Knossos - the frescos of the Minoans intrigue our senses, below you will see the Bull Leaping Fresco which is one of the most famous of all. It brings into question the nature of the relationship of the earliest inhabitants with the bull. Of course it seems that the young boys or girls are jumping the bull...is this part of a display of skill or a bull-fighting sequence?
Also below you will see the fresco named Minoan Lady which shows beautiful blue colours and the distinguished profile of a beautiful woman.
In the throne room of Knossos you will see the striking Griffin Fresco, (above) with stunning red colours. There are two griffins facing the throne, these mythical creatures had the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
These frescoes are now on display at the Heraklion Archeological Museum, and as reproductions dotted about the site.
See more information about the history of Knossos on this page...
This fresco is thought to represent the Blue Rock Thrush which is a stunning bird, still present in Crete.
The Fresco of the Lilies was found at Amnisos, the port of Knossos. This fresco is dated from 1570-1470 BC. The fresco can be seen today in the Heraklion Archeological Museum.
This beautiful fresco shows flowers common on the beaches of Crete, in Greek it is Τοιχογραφία των κρίνων or Fresco of the Lily. The flower below is the Lily of the Beach or Sea Daffodil, the latin name is Pancretan maritimum.
Palace of Knossos - statuettes and jewellery were found on this site giving us questions about the role of women in the Minoan civilisation, such as the Snake Goddess (see below).
Theories abound about the rituals and the type of society of the Minoans. The art shown here is enough to set historians on myriad paths of interpretation.
Were they a Goddess-based culture? Were they peaceful and nature-loving? Did the women hold power and lead the spiritual life of the island? Was this the home of the Queen instead of King Minos?
The British archaeologist that excavated the site was an interesting character named Arthur Evans, see more about him here; a full biography which shows his life's work in uncovering the Minoan history of the island. He controversially reconstructed many features of the site according to his own imagination.
Below is a video of the Palace of Knossos archaeological site as it stands today:
Below is a video which gives more context of the history of Minoan culture in the Aegean.
Below is a documentary about the Minoans by historian Bettany Hughes, and English historian, filmed in Crete at Skotino Cave, Knossos, Malia, Anemospilia, Mochlos, Egypt, Matala, Kommos, Phaistos, Vathypetro, Agia Triada, Santorini and Palekastro.
A lyrical ramble around Crete with wonderful scenery and a real sense of place, this documentary helps us try to untangle the threads of the mythical labyrinth, showing the actual archaeological finds, making informed historical suppositions about the Minoan culture and what we can learn from the palaces, country houses and other Minoan sites all over the island.
The Palace of Knossos is only 5 km from the town of Heraklion, so any hotel in Heraklion is handy to the site, and to the Archaeological Museum, which is in the centre of town.
Here we show you some more interesting rural and village locations which will suit your explorations of the central Minoan palaces including Phaistos and Malia, as well as Knossos, if you are exploring by car.
Villa Archanes is a small, friendly B&B in the village of Archanes, just 7 km south of Knossos on country roads.
This is a blend of the historic and modern, with a beautifully restored village home now offering a pool and terraces. Experience
true country hospitality, wonderful tasty Cretan breakfasts and a
spacious, stylish family mansion house originally dating from 1890.
Traditional stonework, lovely chunky wooden beams, handcrafted Cretan furnishings and attention to detail make these rooms a pleasure to stay in.
Choose from a one-bedroom villa which sleeps 2 guests or a two-bedroom villa, with space for 4 guests.
Villa Kerasia is a small B&B surrounded by grapevines on a hillside south of Knossos, near Kerasia and Avgeniki villages, a perfectly central location for exploring Phaistos, Knossos and Malia Palaces by car. 18 km from Knossos.
Farm House in Orange Plantation - close to the Minoan sites of Phaistos and Agia Triada, this location is quiet and relaxed. From here you can take in the lushness of the Messara Valley and understand why the ancient civilisations chose this fertile place to build their villages. Sleeps 8. This is 7.3 km from Phaistos, 57 km south of Knossos.
Villa Lemoni is a holiday home in the countryside of southern Heraklion. Close to Phaistos, Agia Triada and the beach, it is a modern comfortable home which sleeps 6 with a lovely pool and outdoor patio. 1.6 km from Phaistos, close to the village of Kamilari and 66 km from Knossos.
Below is a map of Crete showing the location of the Minoan palaces:
5 km from Heraklion - central Crete
62 km from Heraklion - central Crete
40 km from Heraklion - central Crete
50 km from Sitia - eastern Crete
Take a hire car, taxi or bus to the Palace of Knossos as it is only 7 km from the airport. Your ticket to Knossos also includes entry to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum which is located in the centre of town.
More details about flights and ferries to Crete below.
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