The palace of Knossos covers a significantly large area of the hill of Kephala, located 7km to the south of Heraklion. The site, because of the area that covers (approximately 20000 to 22000 square meters), is a confusing site for a number of reasons.
The Minoans settled in the area continuously, starting from the aceramic Neolithic period, approximately 7000 B.C. (terracotta was not used during that period) till the Mycenaean invasion, then the area was used by the Mycenaeans until finally it was abandoned. Human presence on the site is evident for thousands of years, before the construction of the first palace. Knossos is the largest palace in Minoan Crete. To be precise, it is twice as big as Phaistos, Mallia, four times the size of Zakros and seven times larger than the palatial centre at Gournia.
For a period of about 600 years, palaces were the centres of the political, economic and religious life of Minoan Crete during the second millennium BC.
In the course of the long Minoan Age the palace of Knossos was hit by two great disasters. Each marked new developments in Minoan civilization. The first destruction was brought on by an earthquake at the end of the First Palatial period, about 1700 BC. Relatively soon after this destruction, the palaces were rebuilt by the Minoans marking the second, more glorious period, the Neopalatial period, the peak of the Minoan civilization. About 1613 (+-10 years) BC, once more earth tremors completely devastated the Minoan palaces. After this, during the Post-palatial period, most of palatial centres were abandoned and only the palace at Knossos remained inhabited until Mycenaean rule. The ruins of the palaces, which can be visited today, belong to the second palatial period. It’s is also the building phase that the excavator of Knossos, Sir Arthur Evans, decided to reconstruct.
Palace architecture reflects the needs of a hierarchical and centralized society, where all the procedures were determined in an absolute way. Their planning and functionalism reveal the influence from palaces of the Middle East and Egypt from where the Minoans borrowed certain features which they adapted to the natural environment of Crete and to the needs of Minoan society. Planning and construction of the palaces had certain common elements which were followed closely.
The Knossos palaces are made up of multi-storey apartments, structured in four wings around an enormous rectangular central court. Despite the fact that the palaces were administrative and economic centres of Minoan Crete where certainly politicians and even religious leaders lived and where treasures were stored, they were not fortified. This indicates the feeling of security of inland palatial society.
During our tour at the palace of Knossos we will have the time to narrate the history of the Minoans, explain why and how this civilization reached this high level, we will discuss about the Minoan society, economy, their burial customs and their religious practices, their administrative system and their writing etc. Follow us to unveil the secrets of the Minoan civilization. With patience and professionalism we will guide you around, point out the important buildings of the palace.
Use the services of a professional licensed guide and explore the Palace of legendary King Minos.