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The Palace of Knossos
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One of the most noteworthy sites in Crete is Knossos with the elaborated palace complex of the Minoan period. The palace is located 5km southwest from the town Heraklion in the valley of the river Keratos. It covered an area of 22000m² and constituted the administrative centre of the Minoan Knossos. The palace was constructed in 1900B.C. at the town’s south edge and was destroyed in 1700B.C. due to an earthquake. Soon after it was reconstructed but was partially destroyed once again in 1400B.C. and burnt down completely in 1350B.C. The Palace of Knossos is an enchanting archaeological site that attracts the universal interest because of its elaborated construction and architectural plan, the materials and the developed constructional methods.


The palaces of king Minos have been associated with several Greek myths. Minos claimed the throne in Crete and on his effort to convince the Cretan of his suitability he supported that the Gods have appointed him to be the king and in fact he asked Poseidon to emerge a bull from the sea that he was about to sacrifice. Minos did not fulfill his promise and Poseidon punished him by making his wife (Pasiphae) fell in love with the bull. Pasiphae and the bull gave birth to a monster-child (Asterion) that is known to history as the Minotaur. When Minos subdued over the Athenians he forced them to send seven young men and seven young women to be offered up to the Minotaur. Theseus, son of the Athenian king Aegeas, was committed to kill the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, daughter of Minos. She gave Theseus a ball of thread so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

The palace is also associated with the myth of Daedalus and Ikarus. Daedalus was the craftsman who constructed the palace and gave the ball of thread to Ariadne. Minos imprisoned him for this action and later he managed to escape along with his son Ikarus with large wax wings that he himself had constructed.

The Palace

The palace of Knossos follows the complicated architecture pattern of the labyrinths avoiding linear structures. It consists of various architectural parts that have got a unique archaeological and aesthetical value. The palace was a multi-storey building decorated with elaborated murals thematized by religious rituals. It had got three entrances (north, south and west); the north gate communicated with the port in Knossos. Four wings spread around the central court. The east wing included the stairwell that led to the royal chambers, the staff rooms, the Sanctuary and the Hall of Double Axes. The north wing consisted of the Customs Office, the lustral basin and a stone theater. In the west wing there were the ceremony rooms, the treasuries and the Throne room. Finally, the south wing was composed of the south Propylon and the Corridor of the Procession.

The small palace is the natural extension of the larger one and its aesthetic value is higher. It was constructed between the 17th and the 15th centuries B.C. Its dimensions are 45x28 and consisted of worship rooms, various facilities and a lustral basin. The main chamber was separated into two smaller which were decorated with elaborated murals of analith and slate stoned floors. Behind the chamber was located the so-called ‘washing facility’ (drainage system) and at the back-south side was a roofed lustral basin.

Other constructions

In the wider area of the complex there are many other buildings like the Royal Mansion. It was constructed the Late-Minoan period (14th century B.C.) at the northeastern edge of the palace and separated from it with the so-called Royal Street. This construction was apparently the residency of a distinguished member of the aristocracy or of a priesthood member. The House of Frescoes is situated southwestern from the palace and has got many impressive frescoes. Other important constructions are: the South House which was probably a private residency, the Unexplored House that was connected to the small palace through a bridge, the Guest Room that housed the visitors and the Royal Tomb where according to various claims one of the last kings of Knossos had been buried.


The first excavations on the area were conducted by the Herakleot Mino Kalokerinos when Crete was still under the Turkish rule and covered the site of the west storehouses. The second phase of the excavations was realized by the British Sir Arthur Evans who proceeded not only to the palace but to the wider area of Knossos too. The excavation project was finished in 1931 and the most noteworthy is the fact that the palace was excavated within just 5 years.

Further Information

The archaeological site has got a parking lot to park your vehicles. The site is approachable by the urban buses on frequent schedules.

Opening hours: Daily 08:30 – 15:00 (in winter) and 08:00 – 19:00 (in summer).

It is managed by the 23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Tel: +3(0)2810231940, +3(0)2810226470, +3(0)2810226092, +3(0)2810224630. Fax: +3(0)2810241515. E – Mail:


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