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Many legends are connected with the palace of Knossos such as the King Minoas, the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur and that of Daedalus and Icarus.

Knossos was inhabited from the Neolithic era  (7th millennium B.C.) and it was one of the most important cities in antiquity.


The first palace was destroyed, probably by an earthquake in 1700 BC. A new magnificent palace was built on the ruins of the old. The Mycenaeans settled in Knossos after a partial destruction of the palace around 1450 BC.


The main attraction of the archaeological site of Knossos is the Minoan palace. It is located 5 km southeast of Heraklion on the top of the hill Kefalas.


In 1878, a merchant from Heraklion, Minoas Kalokairinos discovered two of the warehouses of the palace. Ongoing excavations and full disclosure of the space took place a few years (1900) later by the English Arthur Evans.

In 1931 were discovered the palace, a large part of the Minoan town and the cemeteries. The excavations are still going on.


Along with the excavations of Arthur Evans, which lasted about 30 years, there have been many restoration projects. The main building was developed in many floors and it was covering an area of 22,000 m2.

The original architectural and construction techniques is striking evidence of the enormous knowledge possessed at the time. There was a great variety of building materials, mortars were colored, the marble decorations and frescoes adorning hallways and rooms are original and fantastic. Meanwhile skylights and windows were used, beams for reinforcement of walls and a complex sewer and water network.

The palace of Knossos rises around a central courtyard. The main access to the palace was through the western courtyard.

Various administrative and religious activities took place in the west wing, where are situated the Tripartite Shrine, the Sacred Vaults and Crypts.

There also lies the mighty Throne Room, which stands out with its beautiful throne and the reservoir basin.

In the south wing are the South Propyl, decorated with Holy Double Horns on the roof, the Corridor of the Procession and the South Entrance to the famous, yet stunning mural of Prince of Lilies.


Domestic dwellings and lounges are located primarily in the eastern wing. Two of the most important are the Queen's Hall and the Hall of the Double Axes.


The connection to the port of Knossos was possible from the North Entrance. The Minoan settlement extended around the palace of Knossos. Some of the most important buildings are the House of the Sanctuary, the South House, Guesthouse, the Little Theatre, the Royal Tomb - Temple and the Royal Villa.



Small palace at Knossos

The new era that began with the construction of new palaces of Minoan Crete, demonstrates the financial strength and political tranquility of the island. Knossos exemplifies residential development this period. Throughout the Palace and the Minoan city were constructed new buildings, royal mansions and monumental tombs.


Royal Villa at Knossos

Important monument of Knossos with special architectural form is the so-called Royal Villa, located in the northeastern part of the palace. It shows intense religious nature and perhaps more dwelling prominent member of the aristocracy.

House of the Frescoes at Knossos

Around the palace lies the city of Knossos, which is still waiting to be excavated. So far they have only excavated villas or buildings that were housing citizens who must have had a direct relationship with the palace. The house of murals is located on the northwest side of the palace of Knossos, at the south side of the Royal street.


South House at Knossos

The so-called'' South House'' is another example of Minoan architecture. It is a private residential house, developed in three floors with lustral basin and hypostyle crypt. South House is located on the southwest corner of the great palace of Knossos. From archaeological evidence it is concluded that the house was built after the earthquake in 1600 BC.

''Undiscovered'' House Knossos

Another sample of Minoan architecture is the so-called ''Undiscovered'' House, which is named after Evans, because he had revealed only its eastern façade. This house is located northwest of the large palace and just behind the small palace of Knossos. A private-craftsmanship, as concluded from archaeological evidence. Today, the building has been entirely excavated.


Guesthouse Knossos

This building was considered as a reception and residence hall for visitors containing frescoes and bathrooms because of artifacts found there (pieces of clay baths). Guesthouse was communicating with the palace by a bridge.


Royal tomb-sanctuary

One of the most important monuments of Crete and the last thing Evans revealed during excavations. It is located approximately 600 meters south of the great palace. It seems that one of the last Kings of Knossos was buried here.



Minoas was the child of the Phoenician princess, Europe, who was abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull. He had been given the right to be king and to make all laws of the divine father, whom he consulted every nine years. Zeus was strongly connected with Crete, as he was born and grown there (Psiloritis). According to legends it is believed that he was the first ruler of the island.


Minoas was married to Pasiphae. Once, the people of Crete defied the right to the throne. Minoas replied that it was the decision of the gods to be the King of Knossos. As evidence for this, Poseidon sent a bull to sacrifice, but it was so beautiful that Minoas decided to keep him, sacrificing one of his own bulls. This angered the god of the sea and made Pasiphae fall in love with the divine bull. The result of this relationship gave birth to a child, the Minotaur.


The architect and inventor Daedalus was assigned by the King to build a labyrinth and lock up the Minotaur.

Androgeos,  son of Minoas,  had gone to Athens to compete in the races there. He won, but the king of Athens sent him to kill a bull in Marathon. The bull killed Androgeos and Minoas waged war against Athens. Zeus destroyed the city, and the king was forced to do anything Minoas asked in order to escape the wrath of God. Minoas asked the king of Athens, seven girls and seven boys to be sent to Crete to be sacrificed to the Minotaur every nine years. This continued until the hero Theseus stood as one of the young people had to be sacrificed. Minoas' daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and with the assistance of Daedalus helped him to defeat and kill the Minotaur. After this, Theseus took Ariadne with him on the return trip to Athens but he abandoned her in Naxos. Minoas punished Daedalus and his son Icarus by locking them up in the labyrinth.


The escape of Daedalus from Crete is one of the most famous stories of Greek mythology. He made wings for himself and his son with wax and feathers and so flew to freedom. But despite the warnings of his father, Icarus flew too near to the sun and the wax which was glued his wings melted. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned, as by then named the Icarian Sea.

Daedalus arrived in Sicily and found refuge at the court of King Kokalos. Minoas chased Daedalus, but when he arrived in Sicily, he was killed by the daughters of King Kokalos. After his death, Minoas became one of the Lords of the underworld.


Hours of operation:

01 April to 31 October, Monday, 12:30 p.m. - 5 pm and Tuesday - Sunday, 8 am - 5 pm

November 01 to March 31, Monday, 12:30 p.m. - 5 pm and Tuesday - Sunday, 8 am - 5 pm


Ticket price (valid  for Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Knossos):

Whole: 10,00 €

Reduced: 5,00 €




PC 71409, Knossos, Heraklion

Tel: (+30) 2810 231940, (+30) 2810 226 470

Fax: (+30) 2810 241 515


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