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Palaces
The Palace of Phaistos
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The Minoan palace of Phaistos is located to the southeast edge of the Province of Heraklion and specifically in the middle of the triangle created by the settlements Tymbaki, Mires and Matala. The complex covers an area of 18acres and stands on a low hill at the plain of Messara. It was constructed in 2000B.C. by king Mino and its king was the Mino’s brother, Radamanthis. In 1700B.C. the site was destroyed by a strong earthquake and was immediately re-built. After this it was no longer the administrative centre but it maintained its strong religious character. In 1450B.C. it suffered a new damage and around the 1st century B.C. it was destroyed completely by the nearby Gortyna. One of the most important findings is the Disc of Phaistos that was discovered in a palace’s basement and constitutes one of the major archaeological enigmas since it has not been deciphered yet.

The Palace

The central court was constructed in the palace’s first period (2000B.C.) and is the construction’s core around which spreads the palace. Narrow roofed corridors with pillars and columns were extended towards the east and the west. At the court’s north part we can see an Altar where the believers put votive offerings to the Gods and exactly next to it a passage that led to the south wing and the Royal chambers. The west part housed the storehouses where they gathered the products for consumption or exports. The storehouses were buildings composed of corridors and various rooms in both sides where they stored the products into big jars. Their architectural characteristic is the high central column and the engraved symbols on the walls. At the upper-south part stands the Sanctuary or Rea on a manmade platform; it is a Hellenistic construction. At the same spot lies an arched construction of the Late Stone age which was used as a residence or a kiln. The east wing was composed of independent parts that architecturally resemble to royal rooms. This is an elaborated construction with skylights in the rooms’ corner, cisterns and hygiene facilities.

At the palace’s north wing you can reach the Royal Apartments through a corridor. On the left there is a place used to house the Queen, typical of which are the alabaster floor and the fine frescoes. The light enters a place through a skylight that -unlike the rest rooms- is put in the middle of the room.

Next to the Queen’s Apartment is located the King’s Mansion. It gets luminous through a skylight in the corner of the room, the floor is of alabaster too and the walls are decorated with excellent frescoes of natural motifs. At the same spot stands the Lustral Room with the luxurious decoration where there were performed many rituals. At the northernmost edge extends a terrace with a pillared roof and an amazing view to Mount Psiloritis.

The northwest court was constructed in the palace’s first period and was used until the Roman Times. One of its most noteworthy features is the Parades’ Corridor that was used in the ceremonies and the Roman Hypostyle at the east part where they gathered and made decisions.

The staircase at the end of the northwest court, leads to the west court. Here we can see a small three-parted Sanctuary with an Altar and a Theatre composed of 8 steps each of which was 22m long. Leaving behind the west court, we can reach the central court through a Propyle. The major feature here is the steps’ inclination that facilitated the rainwaters’ run away.

Excavations

The first excavation project in the archaeological site of Phaistos was conducted by the Italian Archaeological School in the period 1900-1904. Then the archaeologist Doro Levi took charge from the 1950 up to 1971. This was the second most important excavation phase. Most of the findings are buildings of the Late Palace Period (1700-1450B.C.) and did not go through any suggestive procedures from the archaeologists like Evans treated to the Palace of Knossos.

Further Information-Opening Hours

There is provided a parking lot right next to the site’s entrance.

Opening Hours:

08:30 – 15:00 from November 1st until March 31st

08:30 – 19:30 from April 1st until October 31st

13:00 – 19:30 on Mondays.

The site is closed on official holidays.