The Minoan Palace of Knossos is located roughly 5 kilometers away from Heraklion. We got a chance to visit what is known as the largest Bronze Age architectural site when we visited Crete. Knossos Palace complex (Cnossos Palace) began in the Neolithic period and survived until around 1380 BC. At its most populated, it is estimated that 100,000 people lived in the surrounding city, including 18,000 in the palace complex. It was amazing to be able to see and walk in the footsteps of ancient Minoans. I think a visit to Knossos Palace is worthy of any Crete itinerary as it is also the largest of all the discovered palaces. This post is full of images of our visit.
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Knossos Palace Heraklion Crete Visit:
Getting to Knossos is quite easy from the city of Heraklion. There is a Knossos bus that you can catch from the one and only bus station in town. Note that there is no need to go inside the building. The ticket booth is outside, off to the corner. The cost was €2.60 l think for the round trip. The bus says Knossos right on it and it is the last stop, so you can’t miss it. There is a bus every 20 minutes or so. The journey was about twenty minutes including the stops along the way.
The entrance fee for Knossos Palace complex is €6. We purchased a combined ticket which also let us visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. A very good deal indeed as we thoroughly enjoyed both places. One of the first things you see upon entry to Knossos Palace is a huge statue of the archaeologist Arthur Evans. He was the man who discovered the ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization. He then put it all together based on how he thought the complex would have looked all those years ago. There are some with the school of thought that the complex is not authentic. I think it’s probably a good replication of the way things were, or how l imagined things were.
Looking back, I think we would have benefited from hiring a guide for our visit to Knossos. It didn’t happen for one big reason:
- the guides were pushy and were asking for €30 each! Not sure if it was because it was not super crowded, so they wanted to make their full wages or what! For that price, I would want a small group tour. Hell NO!
The good news though is that the signs are written in Greek as well as English, so you are able to understand what each place is and was. If you choose to have a guide, consider booking one ahead of time. The site is pretty large and I found it quite interesting. It reminded me a lot of Italica Ruins in Seville. Some of the sections that we saw at Knossos Palace included:
The Throne Room at the Minoa Palace:
It is believed that the room was used during religious ceremonies. There is what l considered a very small chair (they must have been quite little in those days) and stone benches in the room, along with stone vases which were used for rituals and would have contained oils. Lots of mythical beasts artwork in the series of rooms. Kind of dark in there and we saw some bats flying in and out of there which made me anxious and l left pretty quickly. I hate all sorts of birds and creepy crawlies :-).
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Rows of steps and a platform makes for an angle, the bottom of which leads to a paved court and a road going the other way that passes under modern Heraklion and connected the palace to the Minoan town. Sir Evans believed that this was where the townspeople would stand to observe palace ceremonies.
Prince of Lilies Fresco:
This was badly eroded and then reconstructed. No one is sure if it is a prince, a king, or even a woman. The only thing they know for sure was that it was a figure wearing jewelry in the shape of lilies. What do you think?
There were a few other sections that l can not recollect :-). I was more than happy to catch little bits and pieces from passing groups on a tour. Something we learned was that the people lived in really, really, close quarters and spent most of the day outside. When children died, they were buried under the house. We saw some mummified bodies at the museum, both young and old. I can’t even begin to imagine the smells inside, despite embalming.
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Tips on visiting Knossos Palace:
- Plan on spending at least 2.5 hours there. It is quite big
- Consider getting a private combination guided tour as there is a lot to learn. The originals of the artifacts found are contained at the Heraklion Museum, another place we enjoyed thoroughly.
- Bring water. Once you leave the entrance, there is no place to get any refreshment.
- Wear a hat
- Wear sun protection. It’s all open air
- Wear comfortable shoes
- There are levels, so you have to climb up and down steps, we did see some wheelchair friendly ramps.
- If you’re doing a self-tour, take note that the bus back to town does not say Iraklion like you would think, so we missed at at least a couple of buses on the way back. Ask the driver if the bus stops at the central bus station and get on any one that does.
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Have you been to Greece? Did you like being up close with ancient history? What do you think of Knossos Palace and its insanely ancient history?